PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — New photos have been released in the case against a young man from Syria who is accused of planning a bombing attack on a church on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
Mustafa Alowemer, 21, living in Northview Heights, is accused of planning an attack on the Legacy International Worship Center.
He’s accused of telling an undercover FBI agent he was going to walk up to the church with a backpack full of explosives and put the bag on the side of the church.
The suspect allegedly said he would leave an ISIS-affiliated flag with the words “we arrived” near the scene of the attack.
Now, two evidence photos have been released by the court.
Undercover FBI agent — Gary Morgan, who posed as an ISIS sympathizer — said Alowemer sent the videos to him, asking that they be forwarded on to ISIS command.
Instead, they’ll be used to put Alowemer away for a very long time.
The first image shows Alowemer in a hoodie with a black and white mask covering his face. An ISIS-like flag can be seen in the background.
The second image shows an explosion and smoke billowing up over homes and buildings from a propaganda video.
Last week, Alowemer appeared in federal court.
Judge Cynthia Eddy ruled that the government presented enough evidence for his case to go to trial. She also decided he’ll remain behind bars without bail.
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FBI Special Agent Gary Morgan took the stand during the hearing.
He said the FBI first became aware of Alowemer after he allegedly used his mother’s computer to access ISIS supporter sites on the dark web.
Morgan said they’ve tracked him ever since — even his mundane day to day actions inside his North Side neighborhood Northview Heights.
Agent Morgan testified that Alowemer purchased acetone, ice packs, batteries and nails with the intent of blowing up this Nigerian Christian church on the North Side.
And while his defense attorney characterized Alowemer’s threats as “youthful bragging,” former federal prosecutor Mark Rush says the videos indicate he was committed to carrying out the attack.
“One of the things they’ve charged here is furthering ISIS goals within the United States — something the government takes very seriously,” he said.
Rush says the videos indicate he was committed to carrying out the attack. Each count carries a maximum of 20 years and Alowemer could be looking at up to 60 years imprisonment. Rush says the feds may likely seek those maximums.
“On the face, it doesn’t get much more serious than this, particularly in this time and this age, but we also have to let justice take its course and see what defense counsel has to offer,” Rush said.
Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.