Idaho teen planned to attack churches in support of ISIS over Ramadan: Affidavit

The teen had been expressing his desire to fight for ISIS since October 2022, and he used his school-issued laptop to connect with other ISIS supporters, per an affidavit.
Alexander Scott Mercurio, ISIS, undated

An Idaho teenager allegedly planned to attack churches during Ramadan after pledging his support for the Islamic State, according to an affidavit from the Justice Department.

Alexander Scott Mercurio, 18, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, was arrested over the weekend and charged with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, officials announced late Monday.

Mercurio began expressing his desire to fight for ISIS since October 2022, and the FBI arrested him on April 6, 2024, one day before he planned to execute a "suicide attack" on Christians in his hometown. The day Mercurio was arrested, he sent a video of himself pledging his allegiance to ISIS and its deceased leader, Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, while expressing his desire to die for Islam.

The attack, which Mercurio planned to execute before the end of Ramadan, would have "involved using flamecovered weapons, explosives, knives, a machete, a pipe, and ultimately firearms," according to a federal affidavit.

Mercurio used his school-issued laptop to connect with other ISIS supporters online, and the FBI obtained copies of electronic files from his school computer, email and other electronic devices in March 2023, investigators said. 

The teenager expressed online and to confidential FBI sources that he had issues with his Christian family, attended therapy and was drawn to white supremacy before finding ISIS, according to the court document.

Mercurio "claimed he would use the metal pipe to incapacitate people and then slit throats with the machete and/or knife once a person was wounded by the pipe," per the affidavit. Mercurio also planned on attacking his own father with the pipe so the teen could steal his vehicle and break into his safe to steal his firearms to use in the attack, officials said.

The teenager had also made arrangements to send his life savings, which was about $11,000, to ISIS before the attack, per the affidavit.

During a search of Mercurio's bedroom on the day of his arrest, law enforcement agents seized a black and white "ISIS" flag, a pipe and handcuffs, according to the affidavit. Agents also seized instruments that could be used in a terror attack, such as butane fuel, a machete, a folding saw and a head covering.

If convicted, Mercurio faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

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