Syrian Refugee Accused in Plot to Bomb Pittsburgh Church – to Kill Nigerian Christians By Patrick Goodenough for CNS News
A 21-year-old Syrian refugee inspired by ISIS is due to appear in federal court in Pittsburgh Friday on charges relating to a plot to blow up a church in the city, apparently selected as a target because it has Nigerian congregants.
Having first ruled out attacking Yezidi and Shi’ite targets in Pittsburgh, Mustafa Mousab Alowemer settled on the Legacy International Worship Center – according to court documents – in order to “take revenge for our brothers in Nigeria.”
Nigerian Islamists belonging to what was formerly known as Boko Haram – a declared ISIS affiliate since 2015 – have been waging a bloody jihad against the country’s Christians for more than a decade. With the help of neighboring states, and U.S. counterterrorism support, Nigerian security forces have made gains against the terrorists over recent years.
Alowemer was born in Dara’a, Syria, arrived in the U.S. as a refugee in August 2016 and just recently graduated from a Pittsburgh high school. He came to the FBI’s attention because of Internet posts and after he communicated online in April and May last year with a known ISIS supporter in Wisconsin, who was herself already under surveillance.
According to court documents, the ISIS supporter in Wisconsin allegedly collected and distributed “information on how to make explosives and biological weapons.” (She was later arrested and pleaded guilty in federal court in Wisconsin earlier this year to providing material support to ISIS.)
Between April 16 and June 11 this year, Alowemer met several times with an individual he believed to be a fellow ISIS sympathizer, but who was an undercover FBI agent.
At the June 11 meeting he provided details about the plot to bomb the church, provided some materials he had bought to make the bomb, and printouts of Google satellite maps he had marked to identify the location of the church and escape routes.