An Idaho teen was arrested for planning to attack a church

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Washington — An 18-year-old from Idaho was arrested Saturday and accused of plotting to kill churchgoers in his town in the name of ISIS, according to court documents unsealed Monday.
Mercurio is accused of writing to an unnamed FBI source that he was set to “stop close by the church, equip the weapon(s) and storm the temple, killing as many people as possible.”
“I am going to perform a martyrdom operation very soon,” he allegedly wrote in one recent message.
Court documents revealed Mercurio also allegedly told members of a terror-affiliated group chat that he had previously been in contact with an individual who was later arrested for providing financial support to the terrorist group.
Earlier this year, he met at various points with a confidential FBI source and reiterated his desire to die a martyr.
In meetings and via online messaging, Mercurio allegedly revealed that he planned to “donate every last cent in my bank to the State (ISIS)” and wanted to film a video message in support of ISIS before he carried out his attack.
On April 3, the FBI informant fillmed Mercurio declaring his allegiance to the leader of ISIS, charging documents alleged.
The FBI executed a search warrant at his family’s home and arrested Mercurio on Saturday, one day before they said he intended to carry out the attack.


Washington — Court documents released on Monday reveal that an 18-year-old from Idaho was detained on Saturday and charged with planning to murder churchgoers in his town in the name of ISIS.

In a criminal complaint, Alexander Mercurio was accused of giving material support to a foreign terrorist group. He has not entered a plea and is still being held, according to court documents.

On Sunday, April 7, Mercurio was allegedly going to attack at least one church in his area with firearms, knives, and combustible chemicals. However, investigators claimed to have stopped him before he could complete his plan.

Allegedly, Mercurio wrote to an unidentified FBI source stating that he was scheduled to “enter the temple, equip the weapon(s), and stop near the church, killing as many people as possible.”. Investigators have determined that his intention was to carry out a martyrdom before the end of Ramadan, which is a holy month that Muslims around the world observe peacefully and which emphasizes prayer and fasting, and to swear allegiance to the leader of ISIS.

He is said to have written in a recent message, “I am going to perform a martyrdom operation very shortly.”. “The different churches in my town will be the targets. “.

Prosecutors detailed a shift in the teen’s beliefs starting in 2022, when messages and posts purportedly showed his interest in ISIS and his parents’ apparent disapproval of his religious convictions. These details were included in recently made public court documents. According to investigators, he posted pro-ISIS content online and saved media on his electronics, including a jihadi chant.

Mercurio also allegedly claimed to have shared information about having been in contact with someone who was later arrested for giving financial support to the terrorist group with participants in a group chat connected to terrorism, according to court documents.

He reaffirmed his desire to die a martyr during several meetings he had earlier this year with a confidential FBI source. Mercurio allegedly disclosed in meetings and over the internet that he intended to “donate every last cent in my bank to the State (ISIS)” and that he intended to record a video message endorsing ISIS prior to carrying out his attack.

At one point, he allegedly told the confidential FBI source, “I really want to (carry out) an operation,” and at another, he allegedly told the source, “I want to “fix” what he saw to be too many churches in his area.”.

Prosecutors said that his plan involved taking his father’s guns and using them in an attack with a metal pipe. It was allegedly part of the plan to destroy the churches he targeted with chemicals like butane or hand sanitizer.

According to charging documents, on April 3, Mercurio filled out an FBI informant declaring his allegiance to the leader of ISIS. Holding a knife, he snapped a picture in front of the terrorist group’s flag.

According to court documents, prosecutors claim that Mercurio said, “No…I can delay it beyond Tuesday anyway,” in response to the confidential source’s question on April 5 about whether or not he was going to postpone his plans.

One day before they claimed he planned to carry out the attack, on Saturday, the FBI executed a search warrant at his family’s residence and took Mercurio into custody. Inside his father’s closet, investigators found several firearms, a machete, butane, hand sanitizer, and a metal pipe.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Mercruio’s arrest on Monday. “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,” the statement read. “Because of the FBI’s investigation, the defendant was apprehended prior to his taking any action. “.”.

It was not possible to immediately identify the defendant’s lawyer.

The charges coincide with a few days after the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, among other federal law enforcement agencies, alerted law enforcement officials nationwide to “possible threats to public gatherings in the United States from threat actors.” The alert was prompted by the deadly terror attack that occurred last month on a Russian concert hall. The attack, which claimed over 100 lives, was attributed to ISIS-K.

Specifics were not provided in the law enforcement bulletin from last week that CBS News was able to obtain, but it did state that “messaging encouraging attacks against other mass gatherings was released by ISIS-aligned media groups.”. “.

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