Man Arrested For Plotting To Attack Churches in the U.S.

Federal authorities have arrested an 18-year-old man from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for allegedly plotting to attack churches in the name of ISIS. Alexander Scott Mercurio was taken into custody by the FBI on April 6 and charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to the terrorist organization.

The arrest comes amidst heightened concerns over possible attacks on large gatherings in the US, following the deadly ISIS-K terrorist attack on a concert hall in Russia that claimed over 140 lives. The FBI and Homeland Security had recently issued warnings about potential threats to such gatherings.

According to the Department of Justice, Mercurio had allegedly planned to use an array of weapons, including flame-covered weapons, explosives, knives, a machete, a pipe, and firearms, to carry out his attack on churches before the end of Ramadan. One investigator revealed that the suspect had even devised a plan to restrain his father using handcuffs and steal his firearms to ensure maximum casualties.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force was alerted to the alleged plot and worked swiftly to prevent it from being carried out. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland commended the FBI for their efforts, stating that Mercurio had allegedly “swore an oath of loyalty to ISIS and planned to wage an attack in its name on churches” in the resort town. Garland pledged to continue pursuing, disrupting, and holding accountable those who attempt to “commit acts of terrorism against the people and interests” of the United States.

US Attorney Josh Hurwit, from the District of Idaho, emphasized that protecting the country from terrorists is the highest calling for members of the Department of Justice. He assured that his office would always remain “laser-focused” on this mission and expressed gratitude to the FBI for uncovering and disrupting the alleged plot.

FBI Director Christopher Wray reiterated the allegations against Mercurio, describing the plan as “truly horrific” and highlighting the agency’s commitment to preventing terrorist attacks.

If convicted, Mercurio faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The successful intervention by the FBI serves as a reminder of the ongoing threat posed by terrorist organizations and the importance of vigilance in preventing such attacks from occurring on American soil.

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