PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – An attorney says the time frame for the case of a 21-year-old Syrian native accused of plotting to blow up a North Side church depends on how quickly an interpreter can work through the evidence.

Mustafa Alowemer is being held in the Mahoning County Jail until his federal trial begins. Right now, the case is in the discovery and communication phase.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Soo Song says it is going well.

The government has given the defense attorneys eight installments of evidence, including details of in-person meetings and audio recordings between Alowemer and undercover FBI agents, as he allegedly planned to bomb the Legacy International Worship Center in Pittsburgh’s Perry South neighborhood.

(Source: Evidence Photo)

In court Wednesday, Alowemer, a refugee from Syria whose first language is Arabic, wore a headset to listen to an interpreter from Chicago.

The government’s information has been translated by a FBI Linguist, and the defense attorneys have hired their own translator.

Attorney Andrew Lipson told the judge the speed of their translator will determine how quickly the defense attorneys can get through their information, and then advise Alowemer on any pre-trial motions and next steps.

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The judge wants to schedule another status hearing for January 2020.

Until then, Alowemer will remain in jail.


In August, a judge denied Alowemer’s request to return home to his family. Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy agreed with Prosecutor Soo Song, who said Alowemer had a “lethal and toxic” animus towards other Muslims, Christians and Jewish people, “creating a danger that the community should not be made to bare.”

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He was arraigned on federal terrorism charges in July. He pleaded not guilty and requested a trial by jury.