Feds arrest Syrian refugee accused of plotting terrorist attack on Pittsburgh church in revenge for ISIS

(Image: screenshot)

A refugee from Syria living in Pennsylvania has been arrested for allegedly planning to bomb a church in the name of ISIS.

The Department of Justice announced that the 21-year-old who was planning an Islamic State-inspired terrorist attack on a Christian church in Pittsburgh was arrested on Wednesday, ABC News reported.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, who was born in Daraa, Syria and entered the U.S. as a refugee in August 2016, drafted a “10-point handwritten plan” of his plot to bomb the church, according to the DOJ.

In court documents filed on Wednesday, federal prosecutors accused Alowemer of planning to attack the Legacy International Worship Center “to support the cause of ISIS and to inspire other ISIS supporters in the United States.”

“Targeting places of worship is beyond the pale, no matter what the motivation,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said. “The defendant is alleged to have plotted just such an attack of a church in Pittsburgh in the name of ISIS.”

(Image: screenshot)

Believing an undercover FBI agent was a fellow ISIS supporter, Alowemer allegedly asked him for a “weapon with a silencer” and provided him with “multiple instructional documents” on building improvised explosive devices. He also shared satellite maps of the area around the building that he had marked.

According to the Justice Deaprtment:

In or around June 2019, Alowemer purchased several items with the belief that they were necessary to assemble a destructive device and with the intention that they be used to construct the explosives that would be detonated in the vicinity of the Church.

In planning the attack, Alowemer used multiple social networking and mobile messenger applications to communicate with an individual whom he believed to be a fellow ISIS supporter. During his communications, Alowemer stated his support for ISIS, and his desire to answer the call for jihad or travel to conduct jihad. Alowemer also distributed propaganda materials, offered to provide potential targets in the Pittsburgh area, requested a weapon with a silencer, and recorded a video of himself pledging an oath of allegiance to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.


He allegedly planned the attack on the Christian church for July in order to “take revenge for our (ISIS) brothers in Nigeria,” the criminal complaint read.

Alowemer had also been gathering materials to make the explosive devices, including nails for shrapnel, batteries and other household items containing materials and chemicals that could be used in bomb-making, according to prosecutors. He had not made any of the explosives and reportedly wanted more time to plan his attack which he hoped to pull off around 3 or 4 a.m,  according to court documents.

According to NBC News:

He first came to the attention of authorities because of a jihadist-oriented message he posted on an internet bulletin board and because he was communicating with an ISIS-supporter in the U.S. who was already under investigation, the court documents say. Authorities say there was never any danger to the public because Alowemer was under FBI surveillance for months.


Alowemer, who reportedly does not hold a U.S. passport and is not a legal permanent resident of the U.S., will make his first court appearance Friday.

President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court last year, blocked refugees and immigration from seven countries including Syria, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Venezuela.


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