Idaho Teen Busted While Planning Terrorist Attack

Jan H Andersen /
Jan H Andersen /

18-year-old Alexander Scott Mercurio found his weekend cut short as the FBI gave him a set of steel bracelets after hauling him off. Accused of plotting an attack on an Idaho church on behalf of ISIS, per the Department of Justice (DOJ). According to the DOJ’s report, it was a church near his Coeur d’Alene, Idaho home that he had targeted.

Setting his sights on his father’s gun collection, he planned to assault him with a steel pipe and then take the firearms to carry out his attack.

In a criminal complaint filed, an FBI agent working on the case painted Mercurio as completely unhinged. “His attack plan involved using flame-covered weapons, explosives, knives, a machete, a pipe, and ultimately firearms. Mercurio spread ISIS propaganda online and solicited ISIS’s involvement in and approval of his propaganda efforts, discussed traveling from the United States to join ISIS, [and] considered and planned ways to support ISIS financially.”

The DOJ’s statement also said, “Mercurio is charged by a federal complaint with attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, Mercurio faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.”

Self-radicalization through social media, YouTube, and other sources has been on the rise. As people are exposing themselves to more hateful and inflammatory works, the easier beliefs are being shifted. Islamic radicalization tends to happen more with those who have grown up with their belief system. Yet, people who find themselves at odds with their conservative influences often go so far left they end up following Islam. From there, it quickly becomes a slippery slope that often leads down the radical pathways. While some go for the “peaceful Muslim” route, they often still end up going for the violent aspects of it.