On September 16, Mustafa Mousab Alowemer of Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to the Jihadist terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). According to court documents, he planned to conduct a terrorist attack against a Pittsburgh church, the Legacy International Worship Center, in July of 2019. He got caught because the alleged ISIS supporter he was talking to for several months was actually working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to a Department of Justice press release, the 23-year-old Alowemer’s “stated motivation to conduct such an attack was to support the cause of ISIS and to inspire other ISIS supporters in the United States to join together and commit similar acts in the name of ISIS. Alowemer also targeted the church to ‘take revenge for our [ISIS] brothers in Nigeria.’ Alowemer was aware that numerous people in the proximity of the church could be killed by the explosion.”
Adams Daily Voice offers more background, stating that the aspiring terrorist “graduated from Brashear High School, an English as Second Language school within the Pittsburgh Public School District” and “pledged his allegiance to leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and started planning an attack on one of several locations around Pittsburgh, a Shia mosque and US servicemen before choosing the non-denominational Christian Legacy International Worship Center.”
The Syrian-born Alowemer originally arrived in the United States as a refugee in August 2016, during the Obama administration. According to Breitbart News, he was “granted RE3 status, which indicates he was the child of a refugee. Sometime [there]after, Alowemer wanted to adjust his immigration status to become a lawful permanent resident. Alowemer’s green card application was pending with USICS at the time of his arrest.”
Yes, you read that right: the United States took in the wannabe-bomber and his family – offering them safety, public education, and no doubt many other taxpayer-funded services – and he decided to express his “gratitude” and repay his host nation by attempting to attack and hurt Americans while pledging allegiance to a bloodthirsty, anti-American terrorist organization that killed, tortured, or persecuted many Middle Eastern people during their reign of terror in Syria and Iraq.
While the overwhelming majority of refugees are no doubt perfectly nice people fleeing genuine persecution, the case of Alowemer should serve as a cautionary tale reminding us that “bad apples” exist even among refugees. And similar stories are happening across the Atlantic in Europe as well. Moreover, no amount of politically correct indignation can change the fact that in some parts of the world rabid and violent anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Judeo-Christian extremism and terrorism are more widespread than in others. That is why, for example, Somali-born scholar and human rights activist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, suggested in her latest book, Prey, that “the main criterion for granting residence should be how far they [refugees/asylees] are likely to abide by the laws and adopt the values of their host society.”
Given that the Biden administration plans to resettle at least 130,000 Afghans in the United States, the vast majority of whom are not among those who provided assistance to U.S. forces, and to sharply increase the refugee inflow (raising the cap from 15,000 in Fiscal Year 2021 to 125,000 for FY2022), it is important for the American public to keep the above considerations in mind. Even the best vetting may not detect someone who is very good at hiding their hate and extremism. Moreover, under current circumstances, rigorous vetting is all but impossible. As in so many other aspects of life, compassion must be tempered by realism.