FBI Makes Arrest in Terrorist Plot Against Churches in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

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FBI Makes Arrest in Terrorist Plot Against Churches in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Last week, the FBI arrested an Idaho teenager for planning to kill churchgoers during Sunday services in the name of the Islamic State.

According to a federal criminal complaint filed on Saturday April 6, Alexander Scott Mercurio, 18, from Coeur d’Alene, was "attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS," by actively planning to attack churches using "weapons, including knives, firearms, and fire.” The affidavit spells out the involvement of a “confidential informant” – likely a cooperator or undercover agent to whom Mercurio laid out his plan.

"Stop close by the church, equip the weapon(s) and storm the temple, kill as many people as possible before they inevitably disperse/scatter, then burn the temple to the ground and flee the scene," Mercurio allegedly wrote. He said he would then repeat this for all 21 churches in the town.

In preparation for the attack, Mercurio purchased weapons, accelerants, and other items to facilitate the attack. 

According to reporting by NBC News, the FBI said it became aware of Mercurio during an investigation into a fundraising network that uses cryptocurrency and other fundraising methods to support ISIS in Syria and its Afghan affiliate ISIS-K.

Over the last few years, TRM has identified a number of ISIS and pro-ISIS fundraising efforts in cryptocurrencies, including multiple focused on recruiting Tajik nationals. In August 2023, Turkish police arrested a Tajikistan national associated with ISKP for operating a fundraising and recruiting campaign. In that case, TRM Labs provided intelligence to Binance which led to the arrest of two individuals in Tajikistan and enabled Turkish authorities to arrest Shamil Hukumatov, the senior ISKP fundraiser allegedly behind the fundraising campaign.

TRM graph visualizer showing representative flow of funds on Bitcoin and Tron involving ISIS-K

In the wake of the deadly March 22, 2024, attack on a Moscow theater, for which ISIS took credit, TRM wrote a report on the use of cryptocurrencies by ISIS-K. For much more read it here.

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