Syrian Man Arrested on Terror Charges in Plot to Bomb Church for ISIS.

By Faye Higbee

A Syrian man, Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 21, was arrested on June 19 for plotting to attack a Christian church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the name of ISIS. He resides in Pittsburgh. (Atlanta Journal Courier). He is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support and resources, and two counts of distributing information relating to an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction. 

“Targeting places of worship is beyond the pale, no matter what the motivation. Assistant Attorney General John Demers

The US Attorney’s office reported,

The FBI Pittsburgh JTTF investigation of Mustafa Mousab Alowemer (Alowemer) revealed that Alowemer plotted to bomb a church located on the North Side of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (the Church), using a weapon of mass destruction (i.e., an explosive device).  According to Alowemer, his motivation to detonate a device at the Church was to support the cause of ISIS and to inspire other ISIS supporters in the United States to join together and commit similar acts in the name of ISIS.  Alowemer also targeted the Church in order to “take revenge for our [ISIS] brothers in Nigeria.”  Alowemer was aware that numerous people in or around the Church could be killed by the explosion.  

According to the complaint and information provided to the FBI by the Department of Homeland Security, Alowemer was born in Daraa, Syria, and was admitted to the United States as a refugee on Aug. 1, 2016.

In furtherance of the plot to bomb the Church, in May 2019, Alowemer distributed multiple instructional documents related to the construction and use of explosives and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to an individual Alowemer believed to be a fellow ISIS supporter, but who was in fact an FBI employee.  Alowemer distributed these documents with the intent that the information be used in the assembly of a destructive device and in furtherance of conducting an attack in support of ISIS.  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. 

The Syrian man reportedly possessed detailed Google maps in which escape routes were clearly marked. He met with undercover FBI operatives at least 4 times, and even provided a handwritten 10 point plan for the attack.

Featured photo for a church at Northview Heights in Pittsburgh – screenshot via AJC.