The suspect, identified as Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, was arrested in Cleveland, Ohio, over the weekend, the FBI said. The plot involved detonating a bomb on Independence Day.
FBI charging documents reveal Pitts discussed possibly traveling to San Francisco to "conduct additional targeting and reconnaissance."
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During a press conference Monday, FBI officials said the "suspect expressed interest in chopping off heads and hands and disposing of bodies."
He allegedly told an undercover agent that he wanted to blow up a Fourth of July parade in downtown Cleveland.
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Authorities said he actively conducted surveillance in downtown Cleveland, looked for a parking spot for a van packed with explosives and also expressed a desire to give remote control cars packed with explosives and shrapnel to children of military personnel.
FBI Agent Vicki Anderson said he was arrested for "attempted material support of a foreign terrorist organization." Pitts, a U.S. citizen, is expected to face a judge sometime on Monday. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.