Syrian Refugee Who Plotted To Bomb Pittsburgh Church Sentenced To 17 Years In Prison

Syrian Refugee Who Plotted To Bomb Pittsburgh Church Sentenced To 17 Years In Prison

A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to over 17 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for his involvement in a plot to bomb a Pittsburgh church.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 24, of Pittsburgh was sentenced last week to one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS in connection with his plan to attack a church in Pittsburgh.

“Alowemer admitted to planning a deadly bombing of a Pittsburgh church in the name of ISIS,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, according to a press release by the Justice Department. “The National Security Division was created to protect the nation from terrorist threats and we remain vigilant against those who would plot violent attacks on U.S. soil in furtherance of an extreme ideology.”

“The defendant’s plan to bomb a Pittsburgh church and risk death or injury to residents in the area in the name of ISIS was thwarted by the extraordinary work of the Pittsburgh Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said U.S. Attorney Cindy K. Chung for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Our office will continue to hold accountable individuals who threaten the safety of our communities.”

Alowemer plotted to bomb a church located on the north side of Pittsburgh with an explosive device, according to court records. His stated motivation to conduct such an attack 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.

The Syrian refugee also targeted the church, which he described as a “Nigerian Christian” church, to “take revenge for our [ISIS] brothers in Nigeria.” Alowemer was aware that numerous people in the proximity of the church could be killed by the explosion. Alowemer pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS in relation to his plan to attack a church in Pittsburgh in the Western District of Pennsylvania in September of last year.

“The guilty plea today by Mustafa Alowemer leaves no question about his intention to commit an act of terrorism against a place of worship,” said Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall of the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office in September 2021. “Mr. Alowemer will now face the consequences of his elaborate plan to inflict harm on innocent people. I’m proud of FBI Pittsburgh and all of the personnel who worked countless hours to protect the community, and I want to thank all of the agencies that participate in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Together, we combine our resources to identify and disrupt threats to protect our communities and the nation,” he added.

In May 2019, Alowemer distributed 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. The person was instead an undercover FBI employee. Between April 16 and June 11, Alowemer met four times in person with FBI undercover workers related to the plot. He was detained during a meeting on June 19, 2019.