24-year-old man, Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, has been sentenced to 208 months (17 years and 3 months) imprisonment for plotting with an international terrorist organisation, Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) to bomb a Nigerian church in Pittsburgh, United States.
The US Department of Justice, in a statement signed by Assistant Attorney-General Matthew G. Olsen of DOJ National Security Division on Wednesday said Alowemer’s jail term would be followed by a lifetime of supervised release.
Alowemer pleaded guilty in the Western District of Pennsylvania on September 16, 2021, to one count of attempting to offer material support to ISIS in connection with his plan to attack the said church.
The statement read, “Alowemer admitted to planning a deadly bombing of a Pittsburgh church in the name of ISIS,” said Olsen. “The National Security Division was created to protect the nation from terrorist threats and we remain vigilant against those who would plot violent attacks on US soil in furtherance of an extreme ideology.”
“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 US 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.”
“I want to commend the great work of our Joint Terrorism Task Force, and that of their partners and sources, in successfully thwarting a planned terrorist attack in the name of ISIS,” said Assistant Director Robert R. Wells of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.
“Alowemer’s plan to conduct an attack at a church in Pittsburgh and inspire other ISIS supporters in the United States was unsuccessful thanks to the efforts of law enforcement officials at both the federal and state level. This sentencing demonstrates the commitment we share with our partners to pursuing justice against those who violate our laws and seek to harm innocents in our communities.”
According to court documents, Alowemer plotted to bomb a church located on the north side of Pittsburgh using an explosive device. His stated motivation to conduct such an attack was to support the cause of ISIS and to inspire other ISIS supporters in the United States to join together and commit similar acts in the name of ISIS.
Alowemer also targeted the church, which he described as a “Nigerian Christian” church, to “take revenge for our [ISIS] brothers in Nigeria.” Alowemer was aware that numerous people in the proximity of the church could be killed by the explosion.
In furtherance of the plot to bomb the church, in May 2019, Alowemer dispersed several instructional documents related to the construction and use of explosives and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to an individual Alowemer believed to be a fellow ISIS supporter, but who was in fact an FBI employee.