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Man Charged With Threatening To Bomb North Side Church Expected To Plead Guilty

Pittsburgh Federal Courthouse criminal justice 2 10.18.19 (Herring).JPG
An-Li Herring
/
90.5 WESA
A Syrian refugee is expected to plead guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to charges that he plotted to bomb a North Side church in 2019.

A Syrian refugee is expected to plead guilty Thursday in federal court to charges that he plotted to bomb a North Side church three years ago in an effort to inspire followers of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, a designated foreign terrorist organization, according to court records.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 23, is scheduled to enter the guilty plea Thursday morning before U.S. District Judge Marilyn J. Horan. Federal investigators in June 2019 charged Alowemer with one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and two counts of distributing information relating to an explosive device or weapon of mass destruction.

Investigators accused Alowemer of planning the attack on the Legacy International Worship Center in Perry South and purchasing materials he thought were necessary to build a bomb. He also allegedly provided plans and a map to an undercover FBI agent he thought was a fellow Islamic State supporter, investigators said.

Alowemer was born in Daraa, Syria, and came to the United States as a refugee in 2016, according to the FBI. According to the criminal complaint filed in his case, Alowemer met several times between April and June 2019 with the undercover FBI agent and an FBI source.

During one of the meetings, Alowemer allegedly provided plot details, bomb materials he'd purchased and printed copies of Google satellite maps with markings showing the location of the church plus arrival and escape routes. Alowemer planned to carry out the bombing by delivering the explosives in a backpack, according to the complaint.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.