Updated as of 4:04 p.m. EDT: The Ciccolo family released a statement Monday afternoon through the Boston Police Department news website regarding the recent arrest of their son for allegedly planning an ISIS-inspired terror attack. It read:
“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.”
A man has been arrested in Massachusetts and charged for planning to carry out an attack on a college on behalf of the Islamic State terrorist group, according to a statement released Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice. The man allegedly planned to use improvised explosive devices made from pressure cookers, similar to those used in the Boston Marathon bombing. He is the son of Boston Police Captain Robert Ciccolo, a first responder in the April 2013 attack, reported WHDH in Boston.
Alexander Ciccolo, also known as Ali Al Amriki, was arrested July 4 after he accepted the delivery of four guns and was charged with being a felon in possession of firearms. The 23-year-old allegedly bought the 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 -- from someone working with the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force. Alexander Ciccolo's father is in charge of the Boston Police Department's 911 call center and has served on the force for more than 25 years, according WHDH.
— ABC7News (@ABC7News) July 13, 2015
Alexander Ciccolo, who had previously been convicted of a crime preventing him from possessing firearms, is allegedly a supporter of the Islamic State g roup, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and had spoken to a cooperating witness about plans to commit terrorist acts inspired by the militant group. The alleged intended acts included 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," according to the Department of Justice statement. Agents also watched Ciccolo buy a pressure cooker similar to those used at the Boston Marathon bombing, the Department of Justice said.
"Ciccolo said that he wanted to use pressure cookers to make a big explosion,” according to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent in the case, reported the Boston Globe. “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.”
The bombs at the finish line of the 2013 race killed three people. The Globe reported that court records stated Ciccolo had previously discussed targeting a police station, but shifted to college dorms and a cafeteria, also allegedly stating that the attack “would include executions of students broadcast live via the Internet.”
ABC News reported that law enforcement officials said Capt. Ciccolo had alerted counterterrorism authorities about a year ago that his son -- with whom he had very little contact for several years -- was "going off the deep end" and "spouting extremist jihadist sympathies." Authorities said in a court filing that Ciccolo has “a long history of mental illness,” according to the Globe.
The statement from the Department of Justice also alleged that, during a search of Ciccolo's apartment, agents found several partially constructed "Molotov cocktails," containing what appeared to be shredded Styrofoam soaking in motor oil, which would make the fire from the incendiary devices harder to put out.
A detention hearing for Ciccolo has been schedule for Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Ciccolo's arrest follows a June incident involving a man in Boston -- allegedly radicalized by ISIS and under surveillance by anti-terrorism authorities -- who was shot and killed by police after waving a large knife at officers.