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Mentally ill teenager targeted in latest FBI online honeypot

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Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – A mentally ill teenager was arrested for his alleged role in an FBI-influenced plot to attack a local church in the name of ISIS. The teen is said to have been pressured by at least five different federal assets before a raid of his family home.

According to reports, 18-year-old Alexander Scott Mercurio was arrested on charges of “providing material support to ISIS” by the Department of Justice on Saturday. The arrest culminated after Mercurio was said to have spoken to at least five different federal informants—including two FBI employees.

In a criminal complaint, the FBI stated their honeypot began after one of its “confidential human sources” (CHS) assumed the role of a deceased ISIS agent online, which had been solicited by Mercurio sometime in the last three years. Mercurio—who is White—told the informant that he had “drank the Kool-Aid of White Supremacy” before self-radicalizing into Islamic terror.

18-year-old Alexander Scott Mercurio, pictured wearing a green suicide smock while in custody by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office. Photo: Kootenai County.

Mercurio would go on to pledge his support to “ISIS-K,” the same group allegedly responsible for the infamous terror attack at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia. The group has long been accused of being a proxy force for Western intelligence agencies, including the CIA and MI6.

Mercurio was only 17 at the time of his pledge and his interactions with the FBI, and according to statements made to CHS, appeared to be struggling with mental illness. On Page 8 of the criminal complaint, Mercurio admits that his parents had previously enrolled him in therapy, and often battled with the social ramifications of an act of terror should he carry out one.

“I am completely unmotivated to do anything,” said Mercurio to a CHS in February 2024. I do the bare minimum at work and school…and the only thing I do is work and indulge in time-wasting activities like entertainment and shallow play.”

Screenshots from the 48-page criminal complaint against Mercurio show a history of mental illness and the FBI’s efforts to implicate him in Islamic terror.

“I’ve stopped asking and praying for martyrdom because I don’t feel like I want to fight and die for the sake of Allah, I just want to die and have all my problems go away,” he stated in December of 2023

Despite this, the feds continued to pressure the teen, who eventually told an undercover FBI agent, “I am going to perform a martyrdom operation.” He told another CHS that he planned to use a makeshift flamethrower and “flame sword,” but would have to walk to his target because the boy only had a learner’s permit and would need someone older to drive him there.

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In April, a CHS met with Mercurio, where they spent an evening at a hotel and planned an attack at a local church. Mercurio was provided an ISIS flag by the informant, who later took a picture and recorded an Islamic “ba’yat” video of him standing in front of it. The complaint states that at some point, after discussing plans to steal his father’s AR-15, Mercurio became emotional, breaking down and crying in front of CHS-2.

“I don’t feel like I want to fight and die for the sake of Allah, I just want to die and have all my problems go away.”

17-year-old Alexander Scott Mercurio, FBI Criminal Complaint

The day before the attack was supposed to take place, Mercurio had reached out to CHS-2, once again expressing fears and doubts over the attack. CHS-2 is then said to have reassured him.

On April 6th, the FBI Joint Terrorism Taskforce conducted a raid of Mercurio’s family home in Coeur d’Alene. According to the documents, by the end of the FBI’s scheme, the teen is believed to have spoken to five different federal assets, including three informants, one undercover agent, and one FBI “online covert employee.”

Mercurio pictured in front of an ISIS flag given to him by a confidential human source working for the FBI. A Criminal complaint alleges that a CHS took this photo of Mercurio, and also recorded a video in the months leading up to Mercurio’s arrest. Photo: FBI.

“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 in a DOJ statement.

“Protecting the American people from terrorism remains the FBI’s number one priority, and we continue to encourage the public to report anything suspicious to the FBI or your local law enforcement,” Sinha continued.

The online grooming, raid, and arrest of Mercurio—now 18—was quickly interpreted as yet another act of entrapment by the bureau. Some, including investigative journalist Radix Verum, pointed to Mercurio’s age and apparent lack of social support as enticing to FBI assets who often target the mentally ill online.

Video: Radix Verum Youtube

“If this does not scream entrapment, I don’t know what does,” said Radix Verum in a YouTube video discussing the case. “Here’s the FBI giving him that (ISIS) flag and then taking a picture of him posing in front of it. That’s not appropriate.”

“This is who the FBI is targeting for entrapment, and who they want you to believe is some kind of big threat to the community. A child who could not even drive on his own without an adult,” she continued.

“These are people who don’t have friends, so the FBI is essentially paying people to pretend to be their friends to nudge and steer them into things that they were otherwise unable to come up with on their own,” she said.

Mercurio’s highly orchestrated arrest comes amid several other high-profile schemes concocted by the FBI, which often implicates the young, impressionable, and mentally ill in extravagant terror plots. In 2020, the FBI arrested numerous people in the wake of a fabricated plot to “kidnap and kill” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Over the course of the investigation, it was revealed that FBI informants and agents had invented the plot themselves, arrested people with zero ties to the alleged “crime,” and pressured defendants into acting on it. While some were acquitted in court, many of those entrapped by the scheme continue to languish in federal prison while advocates fight on their behalf.

In November, a family was brought to financial ruin after an ‘aggressive’ FBI honeypot led to a military-style raid on their home in Manchester, Connecticut. According to reports, the FBI began pressuring a 15-year-old into committing actions of racially motivated terror online. When the child rightly stepped away from the FBI-run chatrooms, the bureau was said to have raided the home, believing the boy had “gone rogue.”

While the investigation resulted in only juvenile probation and a minor misdemeanor conviction for breach of peace, they were forced to come up with thousands of dollars in non-refundable bail money and legal fees.

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