FBI says arrests man who planned to bomb Cleveland July 4 event
An FBI agent standing next to a vehicle. Image via Shutterstock.

FBI officials have arrested a man who discussed setting off a bomb during a Fourth of July event in Cleveland, the bureau’s top agent in the Ohio city said on Monday.

The man, who had expressed allegiance to the al Qaeda militant group, was arrested on Sunday after a meeting with an undercover FBI agent where he said he planned to plant a bomb at the event celebrating the U.S. Independence Day holiday and would also target other locations in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

“What would hit them in the core? ... Blow up. Have a bomb. Blow up at the Fourth of July parade,” the suspect said, according to Stephen Anthony, the FBI’s head agent in Cleveland. Anthony also told a news conference that the man was “willing to chop off hands and heads.”

Like many other U.S. cities, downtown Cleveland puts on a fireworks display to celebrate July 4.

Cities typically ramp up security around such events.

In 2015, U.S. law enforcement officials said they had arrested more than 10 people inspired by the Islamic State militant group ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, saying the arrests had disrupted planned attacks.

A pair of ethnic Chechen brothers inspired by al Qaeda killed three people and injured more than 260 with a pair of homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon in 2013.

Eight people were killed in New York last Oct. 31 when an Uzbek immigrant was accused of using a truck to plow them down on a bike path.

Reporting by Makini Brice, additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Scott Malone, Jeffrey Benkoe, Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis