Another Ohio Grown Terrorist in a Long List Pleads Guilty


Another Ohio-grown terrorist pled guilty this week to federal charges that included, “…attempting to provide support to a terrorist group and threatening to kill President Trump and his family.” Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, also known as Abdur Raheem Rafeeq, was indicted in January on those charges which included scouting locations for a possible July 4th attack in Cleveland.

The Maple Heights man, “…expressed a desire to recruit people to kill Americans.” He also claimed he wanted to, “…meet with an Al Qaeda ‘brother’,” according to a 19News report.

Pitts is not the first Ohioan to be charged with Islamic-linked terrorism or to try to join a terrorist organization.

Damon Joseph, a Toledo-area man, was arrested last December for planning an attack on a local synagogue. He admitted to law enforcement he’d been inspired by Islamist propaganda and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter.

A Somali-born American, Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, lost his brother in the war in Syria. The 23-year-old from Whitehall was charged with providing material support to a terrorist group. According to an NBC report, “Mohamud wanted to kill Americans, and specifically wanted to target armed forces, police officers, or any uniformed individuals. Mohamud’s plan was to attack a military facility, and his backup plan was to attack a prison,” prosecutors charged.

In 2016, two Somali men committed terrorist acts in Columbus. One attacker, Mohamed Barry, entered Nazareth Deli downtown and asked a worker for details about the owner, an Israeli Christian. He then began slicing customers with a machete. The customers fought back and the suspect escaped but was shot and killed by police a short time later.

The owner of the deli, Hany Baransi, believed his establishment was targeted because he is Israeli. The FBI had investigated Barry previously because they discovered he had expressed radical Islamic views.


The second attack came later that year. Abdul Razak Ali Artan rammed into a crowd with his car on the Ohio State University campus, then jumped out and began stabbing people. He was killed by an OSU officer. ISIS claimed responsibility for radicalizing Artan, who reportedly had pro-Islamist posts on his Facebook page.

The Dayton Daily News identified three more terrorist arrests between 2015 and 2017. Laith Waleed Alebbini, Munir Abdulkader and Christopher Lee Cornell. Alebbini was a legal resident in the United States on a student visa from Jordan. The FBI had evidence he had ISIS sympathies and was planning to join them in Syria.

Abdulkader was from Eritrea. He pled guilty to attempting to kill law enforcement and military personnel in 2016. He also planned to join ISIS and fight in Syria.

The third terrorist was an American, radicalized online, who had talked about his desire to “wage jihad” against his own country.

There were twelve more individuals connected to terrorism-related offenses going back to 2004. The Columbus Dispatch provided the details.

Aaron T. Daniels, a 20-year-old Columbus man at the time of his arrest in 2016, sent money to an ISIS intermediary and planned to fight with the Islamic State in Libya. The same year a brother and sister from Reynoldsburg, Rasel Raihan, 20, and his sister, Zakia Nasrin, 24, apparently joined the Islamic State and moved to Syria where the brother was killed.

Two brothers from India, Yahya Farooq Mohammad and Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad joined two other brothers, Asif Ahmed Salim and Sultane Roome Salim, in their plot to raise funds for a terrorist in Yemen. All four were charged.

A Somali immigrant, Abdirahman S. Mohamud from the westside of Columbus, was arrested and charged in 2015 with money laundering and providing a computer to terrorists overseas. Four years earlier yet another central Ohio Somali man was arrested for providing money and assistance to al-Shabab, a Somalian terror group.

In 2008, a Worthington resident, Christopher Paul, pled guilty to helping al-Qaeda and in 2004 Nuradin Abdi, a Somali immigrant, worked with al-Qaeda member Iyman Faris from Pakistan on a plot to blow up a Columbus area mall.

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to [email protected].
Image “Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts” and “Cleveland FBI Office” by the Department of Justice/FBI.






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