U.S. Domestic Islamist Extremism 2019

attack on Times Square in New York City. Alam expressed admiration for various foreign terror organizations, including ISIS. He also spoke approvingly of past terrorist attacks, including the September 11th attack.

·  In June 2019, 21-year-old Mustafa Mousab Alowemer (Syrian refugee) was arrested for plotting to bomb a church on the North Side of Pittsburgh using a weapon of mass destruction in support of ISIS. He claimed the attack on the church would avenge his “[ISIS] brothers in Nigeria” and he distributed multiple instructional documents, which explained how to make explosives and improvised explosive devices.

·  In August 2019, 19-year-old Awais Chudhary (U.S. citizen) was arrested for planning to conduct a stabbing or bombing in New York on ISIS’s behalf. Chudhary claimed he wanted to record his attack to inspire others and identified pedestrian bridges over the Grand Central Parkway to the Flushing Bay Promenade and the World’s Fair Marina as attack targets.

·  In November 2019, 23-year-old Salman Rashid (U.S. citizen) was arrested for soliciting the help of alleged ISIS members to carry out an attack on his behalf against a nightclub or religious building. Rashid ultimately targeted two employees from the colleges that had previously suspended/expelled him, asking that explosive devices be used to make the attack as big as possible. 

Extremists have increasingly targeted religious institutions. “In the last several years, America has experienced an increase in targeted violence against our faith-based communities and organizations,” DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said in December 2019, summarizing a recent DHS report. While there has been a significant uptick in white supremacist attacks targeting places of worship, including the Charleston church shooting, Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, and the Poway synagogue shooting, Islamist extremists have also targeted religious institutions. ISIS has shown a particular affinity for this type of attack, and in their most recent large-scale attack, they targeted multiple churches across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday in April 2019, killing more than 250 people and injuring 500 more. Mousab Alowemer’s June 2019 plot to bomb the Pittsburgh church is reminiscent of this tactic. ISIS’s brutal sectarian violence has targeted religious institutions of many faiths; however, antisemitism has long since been at the core of Islamist extremist ideology.

The 2019 plots demonstrate that extremists continue to prioritize Jews in their attacks. Both Taheb and Domingo explicitly referenced wanting to target Jews and a synagogue in their attacks. Additionally, Jonathan Xie referenced antisemitic tropes while expressing his