On Wednesday, agents of the FBI foiled the scheme of an ISIS connected Syrian refugee, living undercover in Western Pennsylvania.
Before he could carry out his intended bombing of Legacy International Worship Center, on Pittsburgh’s North Side, 21-year-old Mustafa Mousab Alowemer was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the federal authorities, Alowemer previously obtained “bomb-making materials” and he had his escape routes well planned.
Alowemer didn’t know that his co-conspirator was an informant and undercover FBI agent, when he shared his “marked-up satellite maps of the area around the building and a multi-point plan for the attack he’d written out by hand.”
Earlier, Alowemer “bought batteries, nails and other household materials that he planned to use to build an explosive device,” the court documents state.
He seemed to know how to make bombs, but Alowemer texted the undercover agent asking him for a “weapon with a silencer.”
Alowemer was all fired up to blast the church:
“to support the cause of ISIS and to inspire other ISIS sympathizers in the United States to join together and commit similar acts.”
He had a reason to pick that particular “Christian and Nigerian” church. To “take revenge for our (ISIS) brothers in Nigeria.”
The FBI started tracking Alowemer as soon as they ran into him on social media in April 2018. “he was a prolific consumer of online ISIS propaganda and communicated with another person who had pledged support to ISIS and was known to distribute bomb-making instructions online.” When he shared “a video he’d made pledging allegiance to ISIS’ leader,” they added it to his evidence file.
Targeting places of worship is beyond the pale, no matter what the motivation,” Assistant Attorney General Demers relates in a statement. “The defendant is alleged to have plotted just such an attack of a church in Pittsburgh in the name of ISIS.”
U.S. Attorney Brady adds, “Our top priority is protecting the citizens of western Pennsylvania. Every day investigators and prosecutors work tirelessly behind the scenes to disrupt terrorist activity and keep our community safe.”
Assistant Director McGarrity notes, “Court documents show Mustafa Alowemer planned to attack a church in the name of ISIS, which could have killed or injured many people. Fortunately, his plans were foiled by the full force of the FBI Pittsburgh Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
Alowemer was aware that numerous people in or around the Church could be killed by the explosion. Alowemer will have his initial court appearance Friday and does not yet have an attorney.