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An 18-year-old named Alexander Scott Mercurio, accused of planning attacks against churches in Idaho and pledging allegiance to ISIS, pleaded not guilty to a federal terrorism charge. The FBI arrested Mercurio one day before the planned attack, where he was found with weapons and explosives. A jury trial is set for May 28, with a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison if convicted. Mercurio’s attorney has not yet commented on the case.

Court documents reveal that Mercurio had meetings with a confidential FBI source where he expressed support for terrorist organizations, specifically ISIS. He planned to attack a church on April 7, before Ramadan concluded, and had recorded a statement pledging allegiance to ISIS. Police found items consistent with the planned attack in a search of his parents’ home, including butane canisters, weapons, and handcuffs. Mercurio’s intention was to incapacitate his father and then use his father’s firearms to attack the church.

Investigators believed that Mercurio’s efforts to carry out the attack intensified following a March incident that killed 144 people at a concert hall complex near Moscow. This attack was linked to ISIS-K, an affiliate operating in central Asia known for its brutality and fear-inducing tactics. Mercurio’s case highlights the ongoing threat of domestic terrorism and the influence of international terrorist organizations on individuals in the United States.

The case against Mercurio is scheduled for a jury trial on May 28, with a pretrial conference set for May 14. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Authorities are continuing to investigate the case and gather evidence related to Mercurio’s alleged plans to attack a church using a variety of weapons and explosives.

The FBI Task Force officer involved in the case, John Taylor, stated that Mercurio planned to attack a church using a combination of flame-covered weapons, explosives, knives, a machete, a pipe, and ultimately firearms. The court documents also revealed that Mercurio had brought butane canisters and a metal pipe for the attack, as well as items found in a toolbox at his parents’ home that were consistent with his planned actions. Multiple rifles and handguns were discovered in his father’s bedroom, indicating his intent to use them in the attack.

The news of Mercurio’s arrest and alleged plans to attack a church in Idaho have raised concerns about the prevalence of domestic terrorism and the influence of terrorist organizations on individuals within the United States. Law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate the case and gather evidence related to Mercurio’s activities and connections to ISIS. The upcoming trial will shed light on the extent of Mercurio’s involvement with the terrorist group and his intentions to carry out an attack on a church.

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