Idaho Teen Arrested in Foiled Church Attack Plan to Support ISIS

Attempting to offer material assistance to the Islamic State (IS) organization is one of the charges against 18-year-old Idaho resident Alexander Scott Mercurio. Despite his Christian parents’ wishes, Mercurio converted to Islam and met with FBI operatives pretending to be members of the Islamic State. He was taken into custody on Saturday, the same day that detectives thought he was going to execute the assault. One informant heard Mercurio say that he planned to use a pipe to incapacitate his father and then handcuff him. He also said that he would grab his pistols and a vehicle and then attack in the Idaho city, Coeur d’Alene.

His dad had a locked closet full of weapons, including rifles, pistols, and ammo. Even without the guns, Mercurio intended to launch an assault using the pipe, flames, and knives. A picture of Mercurio standing in front of the IS flag with a knife and an extended index finger gesture—a typical one among the group—was to be accompanied by the tape.

Over two years, Mercurio spoke with confidential sources and even attempted to construct an explosive vest for use in the assaults. Several documents outlining the radical ideology of IS were discovered on his school-issued laptop, and he first made contact with the group during the COVID-19 outbreak, when schools were shuttered.

On March 21, Mercurio again wrote a direct communication to the informant, expressing his growing restlessness, frustration, and confusion about how long he could endure living in such a humiliated state. He also started to fear that he was being hypocritical for not attacking yet.

After receiving an audio clip in which Mercurio pledged his loyalty to the Islamic State, law officials took action to apprehend him. In a press statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the Justice Department would persist in its dogged pursuit, disruption, and accountability of those plotting terrorist attacks against the American people and their interests.

If found guilty, Mercurio faces a maximum of twenty years in jail. He is expected to make his first court appearance late on Wednesday, and he is detained at a northern Idaho prison.