WASHINGTON (SBG) - The target was a Fourth of July parade in Cleveland and, earlier this month, authorities say they stopped a planned terror attack there with the arrest of Demetrius Pitts, a U.S. citizen radicalized inside the country.
“He discussed giving remote-control cars packed with explosives and shrapnel to the children of our military uniform members,” said Justin Herdman, a U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Ohio during a July 2 press conference.
He’s just the latest suspect in a growing group of individuals accused or convicted of jihad-related terrorist acts. That number is now at 154 -- just since 2013 -- as outlined in a report by the House Homeland Security Committee.
“My No. 1 concern is people being radicalized online. One of the things that made a group like ISIS so dangerous was their ability to influence somebody, even if they’re 6,000 miles away,” said Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
It’s a central theme of homegrown terrorism, said Bennett Clifford with George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.
“There does not appear to be any indication from law enforcement or other governmental agencies that the amount of activity, the amount of investigative activity especially, has slowed down or stopped,” he said in an interview Thursday.
Many would find the number of cases shocking but experts say the reason we’re not hearing about it in the endless news cycle concerns some hard work going on behind closed doors.
“What I can say is with the intervention of law enforcement at the right times in these investigations, they were able to thwart plots that obviously would have been much bigger news stories had they successfully transpired,” said Clifford.
But Homeland Security Committee members are asking for all Americans to get involved, using anonymous tip lines and local law enforcement to report suspicious behavior.
“We used to say, 'If you see something, say something.' Well, it doesn’t just necessarily mean an item that you see abandoned; it could be people,” said House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y.