FBI Thwarts ISIS-Inspired Attack on Churches in Idaho 

Alexander Scott Mercurio. Photo: Federal complaint

By Steve Neavling

An 18-year-old man who pledged loyalty to ISIS was plotting a violent rampage on churches in Idaho before the FBI stopped him, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday. 

Alexander Scott Mercurio was arrested Saturday, one day before he planned to carry out the attacks on churchgoers in Coeur d’Alene. 

Mercurio detailed his plot to an FBI informant. He said he planned to strike churchgoers with a metal pipe, kill them with a knife, start fires, and try to snatch a gun from an officer once police arrived, according to court documents. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray called the plot “a horrific plan” that was “detected and thwarted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

“This investigation demonstrates the FBI’s steadfast commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to stop those who wish to commit acts of violence on behalf of – or inspired by – foreign terrorist groups,” Wray said.

Mercurio was charged in District of Idaho federal court with providing support to a terrorist organization. 

“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,” Garland said. “The Justice Department will continue to relentlessly pursue, disrupt, and hold accountable those who would commit acts of terrorism against the people and interests of the United States.”

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