Idaho Man Arrested for Aiding Terrorist Organization

( – Law enforcement arrested an 18-year-old Idaho man on April 7 for allegedly plotting to attack churches with a cache of homemade weapons.

Alexander Scott Mercurio’s arrest was part of an FBI sting in which agents portrayed themselves as extremists with the group Islamic State. Mercurio had converted to Islam after a Christian upbringing. Authorities say they arrested him just one day before he planned to put his violent plans into action.

Mercurio’s stash of jury-rigged weapons included lighter fuel, metal pipes, and a machete. According to the FBI, he said he intended to knock his father out with the heavy pipe, put him in handcuffs, steal his father’s guns, and boost his car to get to whichever church he planned to attack first in Coeur d’Alene.

The man has apparently been planning an attack on Christian houses of worship for some time. The FBI said Mercurio had been talking to its informants (he believed they were fellow Islamic extremists) for at least two years. In addition to putting together jury-rigged weapons, he was also planning to build his own explosive-proof vest.

The FBI’s statement on the case paints a picture of a young man who seemed troubled for reasons other than religious faith. At one point, Mercurio said he had stopped “praying for martyrdom” and did not want to “die for the sake of Allah.” But he also said he did want to die and “have all my problems go away.”

Mercurio told one of the undercover informants that he made contact with the terrorist group ISIS when public schools were closed during the pandemic. Investigators found documents on his school-issued computer going into depth about ISIS’ views.

Their son’s newfound extreme religious beliefs were troubling to his Christian parents.

Mercurio seemed to vacillate, telling informants he felt ashamed and hypocritical for not carrying out the terror attack as he originally planned. His plan was to attack a church and then other people in town, then to die as a martyr, according to the FBI statement.

The young man is in jail charged with giving support to the terrorist group ISIS. If convicted he could spend up to 20 years in prison.

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