- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Syrian refugee living in Pittsburgh plotted to blow up a church next month in support of the Islamic State, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 21, was arrested Tuesday by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. He is charged with terrorism charges and two counts of distributing information relating to an explosive, destructive device or weapon of mass destruction.

As prosecutors tell it, Mr. Alowemer planned to blow up a Pittsburgh church dubbed the Legacy International Worship Center. They say his motivation was to show his support for the Islamic State, better known as ISIS, and inspire other sympathizers to commit similar crimes.

Court documents describe the church as Christian and Nigerian. He sought to attack the church “to take revenge for our [ISIS] brothers in Nigeria.”

Mr. Alowemer recruited and began discussing the plot with someone he thought was an Islamic State sympathizer, but was actually an undercover FBI employee, according to court documents.

“Beginning in or around March 2019, Alowemer utilized multiple social networking and mobile messaging applications to communicate with an FBI online covert employee, whom Alowemer believed to be a fellow ISIS supporter or ‘brother’ based outside the Untied States,” according to a criminal complaint filed in a Pittsburgh federal court.

The FBI said Mr. Alowemer distributed bomb information to the undercover employee and purchased several items to complete the church attack, including acetone, 9-volt batteries, ice packs and nails.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Alowemer communicated with the undercover agent through social networking sites. He is also accused of distributing propaganda material and scouted other targets in Pittsburgh.

Between April 16 and June 11, Mr. Alowemer met four times with the undercover FBI employee and another FBI source, according to court documents.

At the June 11 meeting, Mr. Alowemer went into great detail about the bomb plot, providing the FBI sources with printouts of Google maps identifying the church’s location, and a handwritten escape route, the criminal complaint said.

Mr. Alowemer was set to appear before a federal judge on Wednesday, but that has been moved to Friday, according to several Pittsburgh media outlets.

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