Son of Boston police captain charged in pro-ISIS plot
Monday, July 13, 2015
By: Joe Dwinell
The family of an Adams man accused today of plotting to bomb a university on behalf of ISIS to kill “sinful” college kids said they are “grateful” nobody was hurt, but that has not lessened their grief.
“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. At this time, we would ask that the public and the media recognize our grief and respect our desire for privacy,” the family of suspect Alexander Ciccolo, 23, said in a statement.
The statement was posted on BPDNews.com — the website for the Boston police. Ciccolo is the estranged son of a Boston police Capt. Robert Ciccolo who turned his son in to authorities, a law enforcement official told the Herald.
The suspect allegedly lived in an apartment in Western Massachusetts filled with Molotov cocktails, guns, a pressure cooker and other explosives. He has been charged by the feds for plotting to attack a college on behalf of ISIS, according to a federal complaint released today. He was also known as Ali Al Amriki and had long been under surveillance.
Prosecutors say Ciccolo faces possession of firearms charges as part of the “plot to engage in terrorism.” That alleged plan included “an attack” at a State University in another state “using assault rifles and improvised explosives.”
Authorities say Ciccolo told a cooperating witness that he “knew how to use sniper rifles and that he had grown up with guns.” He is set to be appear tomorrow in federal court in Springfield.
Ciccolo is alleged to have taken delivery of four guns — 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 — on July 4 and was immediately arrested by the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force.
He is also said to have a long history of mental illness and had already purchased a pressure cooker. He also spoke at length about ISIS attacks around the world and his support for the terror organization.
As for his alleged campus attack plan, “He intended to place a few explosives on campus before the attack and would plan to attack the cafeteria at lunchtime when it would be packed,” prosecutors wrote. “Ciccolo said that he wanted to use pressure cookers to make a big explosion. He said that the Boston Marathon bombing gave him the idea of what to do, using the same materials and emptying fireworks into a pressure cooker.”
He added that he wanted the mass murder to be broadcast over the Internet, authorities said.
The arrest comes as federal authorities said last week they had intercepted about 10 suspects tied to terror plots aimed at the Fourth of July weekend. Last month, Boston police and the FBI shot and killed 26-year-old Usaamah Rahim of Roslindale, who was accused of plotting with two other men to behead anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller before turning his sights on police.
Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was also just sentenced to death for killing four and injuring 260, 17 of them who lost limbs, in the April 15, 2013, race.
Ciccolo, authorities said today, wanted to hit a college because the place was “very sinful and has a crowd.” Investigators added they saw him buy a pressure cooker at the Wal-Mart in North Adams on July 3.
“Allahu Akbar!!!” he messaged a confidential informant about the purchase. (Allahu Akbar is Arabic for “God is great.”)
He added in the same instant message that he had already made “ten firebombs,” authorities say.
Those bombs included Molotov cocktails packed with shredded Styrofam “soaking in motor oil” that would “stick to people’s skin.”
After his arrest, Ciccolo is accused of snapping a pen off in a nurse’s head while in jail undergoing a routine medical screening. The nurse was left a bloody puncture wound in her head, a photo sent by federal prosecutors shows.
In a tragic twist, Ciccolo’s father was on duty the day of the Boston Marathon bombings — in Kenmore Square — and saw the smoke from the twin pressure-cooker bomb blasts rise from Copley Square.
“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,'” he says on a Curry College magazine web page.
This investigation was conducted by the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force, and member agencies of the JTTF including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Springfield Police Department, the Ludlow Police Department, the Holyoke Police Department, the West Springfield Police Department, the Easthampton Police Department, the Pittsfield Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police and Homeland Security Investigations, with critical assistance from the Adams Police Department and the Massachusetts State Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team.