ISIS-inspired teen plotted to attack Christian churches


An Idaho teenager was arrested Saturday for allegedly plotting to carry out a violent terrorist attack against Christian churches in allegiance to ISIS.

According to a Justice Department press release, 18-year-old Alexander Scott Mercurio was arrested Saturday by federal law enforcement officials after he pledged his allegiance to the terrorist organization and planned to carry out an attack against Christian churches on Sunday with “flame-covered weapons, explosives, knives, a machete, a pipe, and ultimately firearms.”

“As alleged in the complaint, the defendant swore an oath of loyalty to ISIS and planned to wage an attack in its name on churches in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,” Attorney General Merrick Garland stated. “Thanks to the investigative efforts of the FBI, the defendant was taken into custody before he could act, and he is now charged with attempting to support ISIS’s mission of terror and violence.”

JP reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) discovered Mercurio in 2021 during a criminal investigation into a fundraising network that was used to fund Islamic terrorist organizations. Additionally, in 2023, FBI investigators uncovered multiple pieces of evidence on Mercurio’s laptop that demonstrated the teen’s commitment to ISIS and his interest in “communism” and “socialism.”

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According to JP, Mercurio told a confidential FBI informant that in his video expressing his allegiance to the ISIS terrorist organization, the 18-year-old was planning to emphasize the importance of responding “to the call to the caliphate by killing Jews and Christians.” The Idaho teenager allegedly believed that by murdering Christians, he would be doing “a good deed.”

According to court documents obtained by Idaho Statesmen, Mercurio was planning to “walk to the church, pull out the pipe to light it on fire on one end, hit people in the elbows and kneecaps, force them to the ground, slit their throats with a knife or machete, start small fires, use gas cans to throw at the small fires to cause an explosion and when the police respond he will hide in a corner and attempt to grab the gun of an officer to use.”

In the Justice Department press release, FBI Director Christopher Wray described Mercurio’s plan to attack Idaho churches as “truly horrific.” Wray said the plan was “detected and thwarted” by the agency’s Joint Terrorist Task Force and that the incident highlights the FBI’s commitment to work with other law enforcement agencies to “stop those who wish to commit acts of violence on behalf of – or inspired by – foreign terrorist groups.”

Las Vegas News Magazine

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