Alexander Scott Mercurio of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, appeared in courtroom Wednesday on prices of attempting to provide material assist and methods to the Islamic Point out group acknowledged as ISIS. Picture from federal affidavit.

An Idaho man who at the time “drank the kool-assist of white supremacy&#8221 but grew to become a devout follower of ISIS as a teen was arrested last week a day right before he prepared to assault a nearby church with guns and a notional “flame sword,” the FBI mentioned.

Alexander Scott Mercurio of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, appeared in courtroom Wednesday on charges of attempting to give substance assistance and resources to the Islamic Condition team known as ISIS. Mercurio faces a 20-year sentence if convicted on the federal charges.

In a 47-web page affidavit that led to his arrest, an FBI agent who tracked Mercurio laid out how the 18-12 months-aged prepared an attack on one or extra church buildings in Coeur d’Alene. In on the internet chats and email messages, Mercurio instructed an FBI informant how, his desire in ISIS grew in his teen several years as his mothers and fathers threatened to drive him to show up at in-individual public college or even “juvenile camp” if he did not slash his beard and dress in his trousers in excess of his ankles.

The FBI arrested Mercurio on April 6, just after he recorded a Ba’yah, an oath generally “recited by ISIS affiliates prior to martyrdom assaults,” in accordance to the FBI. He had planned the attacks for April 7, the FBI explained, a date “intentionally chosen by him so his attack would take place right before the conclude of Ramadan,” according to the affidavit filed in Idaho federal court docket. 

The attack plans he in-depth to a confidential informant and in chats did not deficiency violent imagery. But Mercurio admits he experienced no intention to rehearse or coach for the assaults, in accordance to the FBI and his communications with the FBI informant demonstrate minor comprehending of weapons past fanciful tips uncovered by means of Google and on line movies.

A bloody approach but no rehearsal or training

Mercurio told the informant that he planned to go to the church on foot owing to the fact that he only experienced a learner’s permit rather than a driver’s license “which calls for an adult to experience with him,” in accordance to court docket documents.

He reviewed thieving his father’s guns for use in the attack — possibly by killing his father or handcuffing him — but as the assault drew closer, in accordance to the affidavit, Mercurio appeared to settle on plans for a melee-type assault employing a pipe — which he named a ‘baton — along with a machete, knives and butane. 

At a resort in the days prior to the assault, Mercurio laid out a program to enter a church and strike churchgoers “in the elbows and knees” with the pipe, which he purchased at a hardware store. He would then “slit their throats.” The FBI uncovered a machete and a 4-inch knife at Mercurio’s home when he was arrested.

“My prepare is very solid suitable now: stroll into a church and then start off beating people with a baton,” he wrote in a chat to the informant. “Hit them very first on thr [sic] kneecaps and elbows. Batons aren’t meant for mass crowd attacks. I have to be sluggish and methodical. I will conquer them only to incapacitate them, I will use my knives and machete to slit their throats and eliminate them.”

Mecurio also mentioned that, to start out fires, somewhat than kerosene, he ordered hand sanitizer as a “substitute,” which he appeared to equate with hugely-flammable elements like oil-primarily based tar. “Sanitizer is not explosive but its flammable,” he wrote to an FBI informant. “It burns a very long time since it is vicious [sic], type of like tar. Safer than tar much too, no hazardous harmful toxins unveiled into the air.”

Mercurio experienced bought two butane bottles and hand sanitizer for the assault, telling the FBI informant that the hand butane bottles would provide as a crude bomb. When the churchgoers have been “dead or gone,” Mercurio explained, he would commence fires utilizing the hand sanitizer —  and “chuck the gas cans at the fires” to lead to explosions.

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Mercurio also explained to the CI he hoped to include element of the pipe with electric tape and established it on fire. turning it into what he termed a “flaming sword.” Hanging victims with the flaming sword, he reported – nevertheless he admitted in a chat it was ‘not really’ a sword — would ideally result in bacterial infections in victims.

Content Aid of ISIS

On Wednesday, prosecutors filed a motion for Mercruio’s detention till a demo, citing the proof versus him and his possible risk to the neighborhood Idaho community. 

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Process Force’s investigation began after Mercurio achieved out to “confidential human sources online” indicating his help for ISIS and terror companies “more usually,” according to the federal affidavit. Mercurio allegedly distribute ISIS propaganda on the internet and talked over traveling from the U.S. to join the terror team which is energetic in sections of Syria and Iraq.

An e mail to Mercurio’s law firm and requesting remark was not returned. A spokesperson for the public defenders’ business office declined to remark.

Throughout the FBI investigation, officers tracked an in individual conference in between Mercurio and a “confidential human source.” Mercurio allegedly informed them that “he experienced earlier ‘drank the Kool-aid’ of white supremacy, but following discovering Dawlah, [the Islamic State] Mercurio felt there was far more objective for him.” 

Mercurio explained that his deen, or religious route, was from Dawlah, which he uses interchangeably with ISIS (according to the FBI) and that it commenced throughout the pandemic when educational institutions were closed. He was released to ISIS from a source he fulfilled on the web from Canada, the affidavit said.

“This situation should really be an eye-opener to the risks of self-radicalization, which is a authentic menace to our communities,” FBI Exclusive Agent Shohini Sinha reported in the DOJ launch.

The case will come a few months immediately after an ISIS-affiliate claimed duty for a terror attack in Moscow, Russia at the conclusion of March. Subsequent the assault, Pentagon officers mentioned the group’s steady risk and expansion to other regions of the entire world like Central Asia and Africa.

Counter-ISIS missions by the U.S. and associate forces continued in excess of the very last few months with 66 missions in Iraq and 28 in Syria – ensuing in 18 ISIS operatives killed and 63 far more detained, in accordance to U.S. Central Command. Officials mentioned that around 2,500 ISIS fighters stay in the two nations, inspite of the tumble of the group’s previous refuge in Baghouz, Syria in 2019.  

FBI investigation 

In 2021, the FBI came throughout Mercurio for the duration of an investigation into crypto exchanges and other monetary provider platforms used in revenue laundering techniques for terrorist organizations in Syria like ISIS and ISIS-K. FBI officials came throughout a few people who gathered and offered resources and other financial assist to ISIS, together with a person residing in Gaza.

Mercurio also advised the FBI informant that he desired to give him all of the cash in his wallet for no matter what he needed. Mercurio “left $56 and some modify on the table” inspite of the informant’s refusal to get the income, according to court paperwork.

Investigators eventually connected Mercurio to a username from a cell messaging application in which specified facts corroborated his identification which include his age at the time and his parents’ ethnic background. In his messages, Mercurio allegedly shared his parents’ concerns around his conversion to Islam.

“I gotta continue to keep my Imam company, no subject what. They could even mail me to a ‘youth program’ (ship me off hundreds of miles to force me to ‘behave’) and so on and so on. Kinda afraid but In Sha Allah everything will be alright,” Mercurio claimed.

For the duration of an in-individual meeting with a further suspect, Mercurio allegedly explained to them that his mothers and fathers ended up not content about his deen – a phrase this means “the path” is Islamic terminology – and had it cover it from them.

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