ISIS Follower Planning Church Attacks Arrested

Department of Justice seal | Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Office of Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Monday the arrest of an 18-year-old man who allegedly pledged loyalty to ISIS and planned to attack churchgoers in Idaho.

Alexander Scott Mercurio was arrested on April 6 and “taken into custody before he could act, and he is now charged with attempting to support ISIS’s mission of terror and violence,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in the press release.

The statement noted that Mercurio “planned to attack individuals at churches in Coeur d’Alene on April 7 using weapons, including knives, firearms, and fire.”

“The defendant allegedly pledged loyalty to ISIS and sought to attack people attending churches in Idaho, a truly horrific plan which was detected and thwarted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray, per the press release.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, there has been a purported rise in anti-Christian hate in the United States and abroad. Mercurio’s arrest follows a church shooting in Houston in which a 7-year-old boy and an older man were wounded. Law enforcement officers responding to the incident killed the shooter.

“This case should be an eye-opener to the dangers of self-radicalization, which is a real threat to our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Shohini Sinha of the Salt Lake City FBI, per the press release.

Mercurio could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

“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,” added Garland.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted the investigation in coordination with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, and Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

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