The 23-year-old son of a Boston Police captain is accused of plotting to kill innocent victims in a Massachusetts terror attack in support of ISIS, federal authorities say.
Alexander Ciccolo, also known as Ali Al Amriki, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a press release.
Ciccolo was arrested at his Adams, Massachusetts, home on July 4. The court documents were unsealed on Monday and he is set to appear in court for a detention hearing on Wednesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Regan said in a court filing, “the defendant ordered and took delivery of four firearms he had ordered, including two rifles with large ammunition magazines, to use during his plan to kill innocent people in support of ISIL, an international terrorist organization. The defendant is both a danger to the community and a risk of flight.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. His Police Captain Father Tipped Off the FBI About His ‘Extremist Jihadist Sympathies’
A law enforcement source told ABC News that Ciccolo’s father, Robert Ciccolo, told the FBI that his son was “going off the deep end” and “spouting extremist jihadist sympathies.”
Ciccolo’s father is a commanding officer assigned to the Boston Police headquarters. He was one of the first to respond to the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013. He has had limit contact with his son recently, ABC News reports.
“While we were saddened and disappointed to learn of our son’s intentions, we are grateful that authorities were able to prevent any loss of life or harm to others,” Ciccolo’s family said in a statement posted by the Boston Police Department. At this time, we would ask that the public and the media recognize our grief and respect our desire for privacy.”
According to ABC News, Alexander Ciccolo told an FBI informant he was inspired by the marathon attack, and he bought a pressure cooker to make a bomb similar to the ones used by the Marathon bombers.
Ciccolo’s father, Robert, talked to a Curry College alumni news website about the Marathon bombings. Ciccolo was in Kenmore Square when the bombs went off.
“At first I wasn’t really sure what it was,” he said “My first thought was that it was some type of colonial reenactment or something. Then of course, you started hearing people yelling on the radio, and you think ‘okay, that was a bomb.'”
The alumni website took down the story, but a cached version can be seen here.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Regan said in a court filing that the FBI learned about Ciccolo in Fall 2014 and that he had expressed a desire to go overseas to fight for ISIS. The “close acquaintance” said Ciccolo had a long history with mental illness and had become obsessed with Islam over a period of 18 months.
Read the full detention memo filed by O’Regan below:
The “acquaintance” told the FBI that Ciccolo had said he believed his “faith is under attack” and he’s “not afraid to die for the cause.” He also sent text messages to the acquaintance calling America “Satan” and that Americans are disgusting.
The FBI then found a Facebook page belonging to Ciccolo under the name Ali Al Amriki. The page “contained information indicating the user was interested in martyrdom for the sake of Islam.”
In October, Ciccolo posted a photo of a person in a wooded area wearing a head covering and holding a black machete with the caption, “Another day in the forest strengthening myself.”
A few days later, he posted an image that appeared to be a dead American solider with the statement, “Thank you Islamic State! Now we won’t have to deal with these kafir back in America.” Kafir means “non-believers” of Islam.
2. Ciccolo Was Arrested After Allegedly Buying Guns From an FBI Informant
The FBI said in the criminal complaint affidavit that Ciccolo acquired four firearms on July 4 that he had ordered from a person cooperating with the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force. The informant had been talking with Ciccolo about Ciccolo’s plans to engage in a terrorism act, the FBI says.
The FBI put the informant in touch with Ciccolo and they met in person in June 2015. During a recorded conversation, the FBI says Ciccolo talked about traveling to another state to carry out terrorist attacks on civilians, members of the military and police. He said he would attack two different bars and a police station, which he described geographically.
He said he would use pressure cooker bombs:
Ciccolo met again with the informant in late June and they talked about the terror attack in Tunisia. One June 26, gunmen at a beachside resort used guns and grenades to kill 38 people. ISIS has taken credit for the attack.
Ciccolo that he wanted to carry out a terrorist attack in another state and said he would need four AK-47s, two sniper rifles, four handguns and gelignite, a variety of dynamite.
Ciccolo said he knows how to use sniper rifles and grew up around guns. “I know what I’m doing,” he told the informant.
He was arrested on July 4 after getting guns, including a Colt AR-15 .223 caliber rifle, a SigArms Model SG550-1 556 caliber rifle, a Glock 17 9mm pistol and a Glock 20 10 mm pistol, from the informant.
Ciccolo was previously convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year in jail and was therefore prohibited from possessing firearms, prosecutors say. According to court records, he was convicted of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor in February 2015.
3. He Talked About Attacking a College Campus & a Bar That Celebrated the Same-Sex Marriage Decision, the FBI Says
According to the FBI, Ciccolo talked to the cooperating witnesses in recorded conversations about, “his plans to commit acts of terrorism inspired by ISIL, including setting off improvised explosive devices, such as pressure cookers filled with black powder, nails, ball bearings and glass, in places where large numbers of people congregate, such as college cafeterias.”
Ciccolo said he could carry out the attack on an unidentified State University outside Massachusetts. He said the attack would include executions of students streamed live on the Internet.
He said the attack would occur before Ramadan was over, and no later than July 31. According to court documents:
He said that he wanted to ensure that there were a lot of people there, like in a cafeteria at lunchtime, and that he wanted the conditions to be right where he could see it with his own eyes. The defendant said that he wanted to use pressure cookers to make an explosion and referenced the Boston Marathon bombings. Finally, the defendant said that if he ended up having to make a stand, then that was okay. He said, ‘We win or we die.’
Agents saw Ciccolo purchase a pressure cooker similar to the one used in the Marathon bombings prior to his arrest, the FBI says.
According to an affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Paul Ambrogio, Ciccolo also considered targeting a bar outside Massachusetts that held a promotion celebrating the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling.
Ciccolo said the bar was connected to the college and “supports the f****ts so even better to destroy them.”
The FBI says that when they searched Ciccolo’s apartment after his arrest, agents found partially constructed Molotov cocktails, incendiary devices containing what appeared to be shredded Styrofoam soaking in motor oil.
Ciccolo told an informant that the mixture would cause the fire from the explosions to stick to people’s skin, making it harder to put out.
4.He Is Accused of Stabbing a Nurse With a Pen After His Arrest
Court documents show that Ciccolo attacked a nurse at the Franklin County House of Correction after his arrest while she was giving him a standard medical screening.
Ciccolo is accused of stabbing the “innocent” nurse in the head with a pen in a “potentially fatal attack.”
Prosecutors said that “During his meeting with the nurse, the defendant grabbed a pen and forcefully stabbed the nurse in the head, leaving a bloody hole in the nurse’s skin and causing the pen to break in half.”
5. He Took Part in Peace Walks Against Nuclear Power Plants & Weapons
In 2012, Ciccolo took part in peace walks against nuclear power plants and weapons. The “No More Fukushimas” Peace Walk began after a tsunami damaged the Fukushima power plant in Japan.
The walk began in Syracuse, included several New York and Canadian towns and cities, and ended in Buffalo.
“Nuclear power and nuclear weapons for years have crippled societies,” Ciccolo told the Napanee Guide. “Native American societies, Asian societies, Middle Eastern, all of them are affected by nuclear weapons and nuclear power. All of us are affected by it. If we don’t stop using them then we’re not going to be able to live on this earth anymore.”