A Syrian refugee who came to the United States three years ago plotted this spring to bomb a church to inspire followers of the ISIS, federal authorities said on Wednesday announcing the man’s arrest.
Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, a 21-year-old native of Pittsburgh who was raised in Daraa, Syria, and who went to the United States as a refugee in 2016, met an undercover FBI officer and an FBI source several times between April and June as ISIS sympathizers, according to the criminal complaint.
“Targeting places of worship is beyond the pale, no matter what the motivation,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement. “The defendant is alleged to have plotted just such an attack of a church in Pittsburgh in the name of ISIS.”
In a video he captured of himself and had been in touch with another ISIS fan who was also under inquiry, he pledged an oath of loyalty to the leader of ISIS, prompting the FBI to look into him.
The 21-year-old Alowemer, a native of Pittsburgh, is charged with one count of trying to provide material assistance to ISIS and two counts of spreading data about an explosive device or mass destruction gun.
An attorney was not listed for Alowemer on the federal court docket and the Department of Justice did not return a message asking if he had an attorney who could comment on the charges announced Wednesday.
According to the complaint, Alowemer planned to carry out the attack next month by supplying the explosives in a backpack.
Includes reporting from The Associated Press