by Sheri Urban
A Syrian refugee living in Pittsburgh was arrested Wednesday in an alleged plot to blow up a church in the name of the Islamic State.
Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 21, is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS, as well as two counts of distributing information relating to an explosive, destructive device or weapon of mass destruction.
Alowemer was born in Daraa, Syria, and admitted to the U.S. as a refugee on Aug. 1, 2016, federal prosecutors said according to the criminal complaint against him. He recently graduated from a Pittsburgh-area high school and does not hold a U.S. passport.
Prosecutors allege that Alowemer said he was planning an attack against the Pittsburgh church in order to “take revenge for our [ISIS] brothers in Nigeria.” Alowemer allegedly plotted to attack the Legacy International Worship Center, a majority black church on the city’s north side, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Alowemer met four times between April 16 and June 11 with undercover FBI employees and informants, the government says. In May, Alowemer allegedly provided bomb-making instructions to an undercover FBI employee who he believed was a fellow ISIS supporter. Earlier this month, he allegedly purchased what he believed to be materials to make an explosive.
“During his communications, Alowemer stated his support for ISIS, and his desire to answer the call for jihad or travel to conduct jihad,” prosecutors said.
Alowemer also recorded a video showing him swearing his allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.
During the most recent meeting, Alowemer allegedly provided a confidential human source with copies of Google maps that he had printed of the church. He also provided a 10-point plan that detailed the operation, which he hoped to carry out next month.