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Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, originally from Daara, Syria, was sentenced to 17 years in prison, Nov. 8, 2022, after pleading guilty to providing material support to the Islamic State group.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, originally from Daara, Syria, was sentenced to 17 years in prison, Nov. 8, 2022, after pleading guilty to providing material support to the Islamic State group. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)

A Pittsburgh man who plotted to bomb a local church out of a desire to show support for the Islamic State group was sentenced this week to a 17-year prison term.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 24, who is originally from Syria and came to the United States, had shared his plan with an undercover FBI agent who he thought was an ISIS adherent.

The sentence was handed down Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to charges of providing material support to a terrorist group last year in federal court.

“Alowemer’s plan to conduct an attack at a church in Pittsburgh and inspire other ISIS supporters in the United States was unsuccessful thanks to the effort of law enforcement officials at both the federal and state level,” Robert Wells, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism unit, said in a Justice Department statement Wednesday.

Alowemer’s intended target was a Nigerian Christian church, which he chose because he sought to “take revenge for our (ISIS) brothers in Nigeria,” according to court documents.

He told investigators he wanted to encourage other ISIS sympathizers to commit similar terrorist acts throughout the United States.

The plot began in 2019, when Alowemer gave documents about building improvised explosive devices to an undercover FBI agent. He expected the bombing to happen in July of that year.

The materials he handed over included maps of the church’s location marked with routes to and from the church, the DOJ statement said.

He also bought such items as nails and acetone, which he gave to the undercover agent with the expectation that they would be used to make the bomb, according to the statement.

Alowemer met with the agent four times in 2019. Investigators said he insisted on one final meeting in June of that year before going through with his plan, and he was arrested then, the Justice Department said.

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Kyle Alvarez covers the U.S. military in England. He graduated from Berry College in Rome, Ga., with a degree in public relations.

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