WASHINGTON (KDKA) — A Pittsburgh resident was arrested on terrorism charges after he allegedly was planning to attack the Legacy International Worship Center on the North Side.
Mustafa Alowemer, a 21-year-old man who was admitted to the United States as a refugee from Syria, is facing one count of attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and two counts of distributing information relating to an explosive, destructive device or weapon of mass destruction.
“Targeting places of worship is beyond the pale, no matter what the motivation,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.
“The defendant is alleged to have plotted just such an attack of a church in Pittsburgh in the name of ISIS. 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.”
According to an affidavit, the FBI Pittsburgh Joint Terrorism Task Force, an investigation revealed that the man had plotted to place a bomb on the church and he was inspired by ISIS.
Alowemer also said he targeted the church in order to “take revenge for our brothers in Nigeria.”
KDKA’s Lindsay Ward Reports:
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto thanked the FBI’s effort in a statement.
“On behalf of the citizens of Pittsburgh, I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their arrest today, and the daily investigative work they and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police do to protect us from acts of terrorism and hate,” Mayor Peduto said. “Today’s events are especially alarming due to the suspect’s alleged target of yet another place of worship in our city, like the Tree of Life synagogue, which should be peaceful places of refuge and reflection that are free of threats of violence.”
He also reaffirmed his support for the immigrant and refugee community in the statement.
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“Pittsburgh has historically been a home for refugees and immigrants and will continue to be one,” he said. “In debates over the refugee crisis the past several years, as people from around the world have sought to flee violence and misery and seek better lives for their families in the United States, I have always been consistent in our message: we welcome all refugees and immigrants, and we oppose hate against anyone in any form, and we also cooperate with law enforcement whenever legitimate and dangerous crimes are threatening us. Today, unfortunately, those threats come from everywhere. The record shows most terrorists attacking the United States are domestic, such as the man who murdered 11 Tree of Life worshippers in October. The City of Pittsburgh will continue to welcome newcomers to our city and nation, while diligently working with federal law enforcement and others to keep us safe, and to eradicate all attempts to threaten and terrify us.”
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