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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Keyword: worldwide terrorism threats & domestic extremist threats & trends

The man who plotted to blow up a church on Pittsburgh’s North Side in the name of ISIS pleaded guilty Thursday.

Mustafa Alowemer, a Syrian refugee, appeared before a judge Thursday morning.

Alowemer was 21 at the time of his arrest in 2019. Investigators then charged him with attempting to provide material support and resources for ISIS, and two counts of distributing information relating to an explosive, destructive device or weapon of mass destruction.

Alowemer pleaded guilty to one count against him. The other two counts are being withdrawn as part of the plea deal. His immigration status could be impacted if he is convicted.

According to the FBI, he planned to bomb a small church on Wilson Avenue in the Perry South neighborhood. He identified the church as Christian and Nigerian, and said he targeted it to “take revenge for our [ISIS] brothers in Nigeria.”

Read more: WPXI

An Ohio man was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and attempting to commit a hate crime, for planning an attack on a synagogue in the Toledo, Ohio area.

Damon M. Joseph, aka Abdullah Ali Yusuf, 23, of Holland, Ohio, pleaded guilty in May 2021. According to court documents, in 2018, Joseph drew the attention of law enforcement by posting photographs of weapons and various messages in support of ISIS on his social media accounts, as well as a photograph originally distributed by the media wing of ISIS.

“Inspired by ISIS, Damon Joseph planned to conduct a deadly terrorist attack at a synagogue in Ohio.  He hoped to cause mass casualties by selecting a time when numerous innocent victims would be present.  For this conduct, he will now spend 20 years in prison,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. "We are committed to identifying, disrupting, and holding accountable individuals who seek to engage in such attacks.  I commend the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who identified the threat posed by this defendant and took action to protect the public from his plans.”

Read more: Department of Justice

Thirty-one late-stage attack plots were disrupted over the past four years by intelligence officers, the director general of the MI5 has said.

MI5 director general Ken McCallum said that the threat of terrorism in the UK remains “a real and enduring thing” and warned that recent events in Afghanistan could lead to a new 9/11-style attack plot.

He added: “We do face a consistent global struggle to defeat extremism and to guard against terrorism - this is real problem.”

He told the BBC’s Today programme on Friday: “In the last four years, working with the police, my organisation has disrupted 31 late-stage attack plots in Great Britain.

“That number includes mainly Islamist attack plots but also a growing number of attack plots from right wing terrorists.”

Read more: The Independent (UK)

A 16-year-old boy set up an extremist right-wing group including a member who plotted a terrorism attack, it can now be revealed.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard the teenager ran "The British Hand" from 5 August last year when he was 14 on the encrypted Telegram app.

One group member, Matthew Cronjager, from Essex, was convicted of planning terrorist acts on 3 September.

The cases can now be linked after reporting restrictions were lifted.

The teenager, from south Derbyshire, vetted others in private chat groups where they talked about "doing something" against ethnic minorities and discussed weapons, the court heard.

In one post, he wrote in capital letters: "I am planning an attack against the Dover coast where every Muslim and refugee has been given safety if you're interested tell me now."

Read more: BBC News

The federal judge in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person ever put on trial in the U.S. in the 9/11 attacks, said Thursday that the trial proved that civilian courts can successfully handle terrorism cases, despite the abundant challenges.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema presided over the lengthy trial in Alexandria, Virginia. The courthouse is near the Pentagon, which was one of the three targets hit by terrorist hijackers 20 years ago this week. She made rare public comments about the trial during a panel discussion hosted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for Eastern Virginia.

"I think our approach to terrorists should be really an approach to criminals. They shouldn't get any heightened respect or treatment," she said.

Read more: NBC News