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Alexander Mercurio pledged loyalty to ISIS. Images: FBI.

FBI details Idaho man’s ISIS plot against churches

An 18-year-old Idaho man is awaiting a court hearing for planning a “violent plot” for ISIS against 21 churches.

In a release, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Alexander Mercurio was plotting to incapacitate his father, restrain him, steal his guns and other weapons, and attack churches in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Sunday.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that the defendant swore devotion to ISIS “and sought to attack people attending churches in Idaho, a truly horrific plan which was detected and thwarted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Mercurio “planned to wage an attack in its name on churches in Coeur d’Alene,” but he was arrested before he could act.

The announcement comes as attacks against churches have surged 800%. Recent attacks have been fueled by pro-Hamas and Palestinian protests on college campuses and cities across the nation since Hamas attacked Israel Oct. 7. CNN reported last year that ISIS-connected traffickers are working along the US southern border.

According to the DOJ’s news release, he could serve 20 years in federal prison if convicted. Mercurio is in jail awaiting court a court date.

According to court filings, the FBI arrested him after he expressed support for ISIS and other terrorist groups online. Court documents suggest he made those remarks to an FBI-affiliated law enforcement source.

The court papers claimed he filmed himself carrying a knife in front of an ISIS flag.

“He amassed a collection of items he intended to use to conduct an attack against a local church and its congregation, planned to violently assault his father with a metal pipe so he could steal a vehicle and firearms belonging to his father, pledged allegiance to ISIS, declared his own desire to be killed during his attack, and made arrangements to send his life savings to ISIS,” the court documents stated.

His parents’ Idaho home was searched and found “items consistent with his planned attack,” court filings showed. They had “handcuffs, folding saw, head coverings, two butane fuel canisters, and [a] machete.”

According to court documents, Mercurio “intended to incapacitate his father with a pipe, handcuff him, and use the firearms locked in the closet to attack the church,” after finding several rifles and handguns in his father’s bedroom.

Officials accused the young man of promoting pro-ISIS propaganda online and discussing financial support for the Islamist terrorist group. Court papers also stated that he wanted to visit western Africa to support the organization. ISIS and other extremist groups are in the process of carrying out what’s been described as a genocide against African Christians.

FBI evidence revealed that he was in a chat group with ISIS supporters and that his laptop contained ISIS ideology documents.

Garland stated in the announcement that the FBI’s investigation led to the defendant’s arrest and charge with attempting to support ISIS’s mission of terror and violence. “The Justice Department will relentlessly pursue, disrupt, and hold accountable terrorists who threaten US citizens and interests.”

In the announcement, FBI special agent Shohini Sinha said the Mercurio case “should be an eye-opener to the dangers of self-radicalization, which is a real threat to our communities.”

Humzah Mashkoor, 18, from Colorado, was charged with supporting ISIS after plotting to join the group in the Middle East some months earlier.

ISIS-K, which is growing in Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal, claimed responsibility for a music hall attack in Moscow, Russia, that killed over 140 people.

The US considers the group a threat. It is similar to Hamas though the Palestinian group has a political wing and represents the majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament in the West Bank.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice




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