The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Wednesday that a Syrian refugee was arrested after allegedly plotting a terrorist attack on a Christian church in Pittsburgh, citing the Islamic State as his inspiration.
According to federal documents, Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 21, was plotting to attack a Christian church on the north side of Pittsburgh in the name of radical Islam. He was allegedly targeting the Legacy International Worship Center, a self-described “multicultural, millennial-driven and community-based ministry.”
“I am addressing the recent alleged incident regarding our church being the target of a terrorist threat,” said Michael Anthony Day, the founder and lead pastor of the Legacy International Worship Center, in a social media post. “Gratefully God thwarted such a tragedy, protecting our congregation and northside community.”
Alowemer, who was born in Daraa, Syria and came as a refugee to the U.S. in Aug. 2016, had allegedly planned the attack “to support the cause of ISIS and to inspire other ISIS supporters in the United States.”
“Targeting places of worship is beyond the pale, no matter what the motivation. The defendant is alleged to have plotted just such an attack of a church in Pittsburgh in the name of ISIS,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers in a press release.
“The National Security Division and our partners will continue our efforts to identify and bring to justice individuals in our country who seek to commit violence on behalf of ISIS and other terrorist organizations. I want to thank the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this investigation,” Demers added.
Court documents allege that Alowemer supplied “multiple instructional documents” detailing how to build bombs to an undercover FBI agent who he believed was a fellow ISIS sympathizer. He also displayed his Islamic extremist views in social media posts, according to the complaint.
“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 DOJ said in a statement.
The DOJ also pointed to Alowemer’s “10-point handwritten plan” plotting to bomb the church to bolster their case against him. Prosecutors allege he had bought supplies like nails, batteries, chemical-laden consumer products, and other items needed to build a bomb capable of causing a terrorist act.
“Our top priority is protecting the citizens of western Pennsylvania,” said U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Every day investigators and prosecutors work tirelessly behind the scenes to disrupt terrorist activity and keep our community safe. While the public does not always see the results of the hard work of these dedicated men and women, this case is a visible demonstration of our commitment to rooting out terrorists and bringing them to justice.”
Alowemer will make his first court appearance on Friday regarding the charges. The incident belies the promises of the taxpayer-funded refugee resettlement program, which purports itself as operating for humanitarian purposes but is actually rife with corruption.