Syrian refugee gets 17 years in church bomb plot case

Nov 9, 2022, 3:37 PM | Updated: 4:17 pm

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Syrian refugee has been sentenced to more than 17 years in what authorities said was a plot to plot to bomb a Christian church in Pittsburgh.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 24, was sentenced Tuesday to 17 years and four months on a guilty plea last year to a federal charge of attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic Stage group, a militant extremist organization.

Authorities said Alowemer, who was born in Syria and came to the United States in 2016, had detailed plans in 2019 to bomb the Legacy International Worship Center, a small Christian church on the city’s North Side. Prosecutors said he wanted to inspire other U.S. supporters of the Islamic State group to conduct similar actions.

Alowemer gave someone he thought was a fellow IS supporter instructions about how to build and use explosives in May 2019, but that person was in fact with the FBI, prosecutors said. A month later, they said, he purchased nails and nail polish remover to build an explosive device, they said.

In a June 2019 meeting with an FBI agent and an FBI confidential source, Alowemer gave them maps with arrival and escape routes, and a handwritten, 10-point plan about how he would deliver the explosives in a backpack. He was arrested about a week later.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that U.S. District Judge Marilyn Horan told Alowemer on Tuesday that the case had brought “nothing but tragic impact” on him and his family, as well as the community.

“You knew full well what you were doing,” she sad. “All of your actions were knowing, intentional and deliberate.”

Prosecutors sought the maximum term of 20 years. The defense argued for an eight-year term, arguing that years of trauma had left Alowemer with post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder as well as survivor’s guilt that made him obsessed about what was happening in his homeland.

“At the time of his offense, he was sick, and that sickness contributed to his offense,” assistant public defender Andrew Lipson said. “That sickness distorted the world around him.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Soo Song acknowledged that he had endured trauma but said what he planned was not only “an act of terrorism” but had the hallmarks of a hate crime in targeting a Christian church to try to retaliate for actions against ISIS in Nigeria. Other potential targets he identified included classmates and U.S. soldiers, she said.

In court, Alowemer apologized to the church’s pastor and congregation as well as the community and the government.

“I understand the severity of my crime,” he said. “I no longer think or act the way I used to. I no longer support ISIS.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Web designer Lorie Smith is shown in her office on Nov. 7, 2022, in the southwest part of Li...
Associated Press

Both sides see high stakes in gay rights Supreme Court case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is being warned about the potentially dire consequences of a case next week involving a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for same-sex couples. Rule for the designer and the justices will expose not only same-sex couples but also Black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims and others […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: December 3, gas disaster in Bhopal

Today in History Today is Saturday, Dec. 3, the 337th day of 2022. There are 28 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Dec. 3, 1984, thousands of people died after a cloud of methyl isocyanate gas escaped from a pesticide plant operated by a Union Carbide subsidiary in Bhopal, India. On […]
23 hours ago
FILE - John Duarte, a Republican candidate in California's 13th Congressional District, arrives at ...
Associated Press

GOP’s Duarte takes California Central Valley US House seat

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Republican John Duarte defeated Democrat Adam Gray on Friday in a new California U.S. House district in the Central Valley farm belt that produced the closest congressional contest in the state this year. With virtually all of the ballots counted, Duarte has just over 50% of the vote. Gray conceded in […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Family seeks answers after police kill man on his own porch

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The family of an Austin, Texas, man is seeking answers after he was fatally shot by police last month on his front porch following a late-night emergency call by a neighbor. Video and audio released Thursday show Austin police officers arrived Nov. 15, yelled “drop your gun,” then fired at Rajan […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Flowers and candles are placed around crosses on May 28, 2022, at a memorial outside Robb El...
Associated Press

Uvalde shooting victims seek $27B, class action in lawsuit

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Victims of the Uvalde school shooting that left 21 people dead have filed a lawsuit against local and state police, the city and other school and law enforcement officials seeking $27 billion due to delays in confronting the attacker, court documents show. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in […]
23 hours ago
The Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee discuss proposed changes to the primar...
Associated Press

Dems move to make South Carolina, not Iowa, 1st voting state

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats voted Friday to remove Iowa as the leadoff state on the presidential nominating calendar and replace it with South Carolina starting in 2024, a dramatic shakeup championed by President Joe Biden to better reflect the party’s deeply diverse electorate. The Democratic National Committee’s rule-making arm made the move to strip Iowa […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Syrian refugee gets 17 years in church bomb plot case