ISIS supporter gets 17 years in federal prison for planning Pittsburgh church bombing

A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison for planning to bomb a Pittsburgh church in the name of the terrorist group ISIS, according to prosecutors.

The Department of Justice said Wednesday that Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 24, will serve 208 months after he originally pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS in September 2021.

Prosecutors said that Alowemer intended to bomb the church and potentially kill numerous people to support the cause of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, as well as to inspire other ISIS members in the U.S. to carry out their own attacks.

He targeted what he called a “Nigerian Christian” church in order to “take revenge for our [ISIS] brothers in Nigeria,” according to the DOJ.

“The defendant’s plan to bomb a Pittsburgh church and risk death or injury to residents in the area in the name of ISIS was thwarted by the extraordinary work of the Pittsburgh Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said U.S. Attorney Cindy K. Chung for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Our office will continue to hold accountable individuals who threaten the safety of our communities.”

In May 2019, Alowemer distributed instructions on how to make and use an improvised explosive device (IED) to an FBI employee who was posing as a fellow ISIS supporter.

Alowemer met with the FBI informant four times between April and June of that year. During a meeting on June 11, Alowemer shared his plan with the FBI employee, which included printed maps of the church, arrival and escape routes, and a 10-point outline detailing his strategy for delivering the explosives in a backpack.

The two met once more on June 19 to review the plan, at which point Alowemer was arrested. 

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