Friday 20 April 2018

Cop's son accused of IS terror plot

Alexander Ciccolo pictured on a peace walk through Brighton, Ontario, in 2012 (Northumberland News/AP)
Alexander Ciccolo pictured on a peace walk through Brighton, Ontario, in 2012 (Northumberland News/AP)

The son of a Boston police captain has been arrested in an FBI sting and accused of plotting terrorist acts in support of the Islamic State (IS) group, including setting off pressure-cooker bombs at a university and slaughtering students live online.

Alexander Ciccolo's father Robert alerted authorities last year that his son had a long history of mental illness and was talking about joining IS, according to two law enforcement sources.

Ciccolo, 23, of Adams, was charged in a criminal complaint with illegal possession of a firearm for receiving four guns on July 4 from a person co-operating with the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force. Ciccolo was barred from having a gun b ecause of a drink-driving conviction.

Robert Ciccolo has been with the Boston police force for 27 years.

"While we were saddened and disappointed to learn or our son's intentions, we are grateful that authorities were able to prevent any loss of life or harm to others," Ciccolo's parents said in a statement.

In court papers, the FBI said Ciccolo, also known as Abu Ali al Amriki, talked with the co-operating witness in recorded conversations in June about his plans to commit acts inspired by IS.

Ciccolo initially talked about killing civilians, police officers and members of the US military but later said he wanted instead to attack a state university outside Massachusetts because more people would be there, according to the FBI. The FBI said the attack would include executions of students, broadcast live over the internet.

The day before his arrest, agents watched Ciccolo at Wal-Mart buying a pressure cooker similar to those used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the agency said.

Ciccolo first came to the attention of the terrorism task force on September 11 last year, when a close acquaintance, identified by the law enforcement officials as Ciccolo's father, told the FBI that his son had expressed a desire to go overseas and fight for IS, according to court papers.

The acquaintance told the FBI that Ciccolo had a long history of mental illness and in the last 18 months "had become obsessed with Islam". The person also told the FBI he had received texts from Ciccolo in which he said America was "Satan" and Americans were disgusting.

The FBI said Ciccolo told the co-operating witness he planned to attack the university with assault rifles and explosives, focusing on dormitories and the cafeteria during lunch because it would be packed with people.

He also allegedly said that if a student was a Muslim "he would be permitted to help, sit tight or leave". Ciccolo told the witness that the Boston Marathon bombing gave him the idea of using pressure-cooker bombs, the FBI said.

The FBI said it found several partially-built Molotov cocktails, two machetes and a long curved knife during a search of his apartment.

After Ciccolo's arrest, he grabbed a pen during a medical screening in jail and stabbed a nurse in the head, according to the FBI.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security had warned recently of a heightened terror threat tied to July 4 - Independence Day. FBI director James Comey said last week that the FBI believes it stopped acts of violence in the month before the holiday with the arrests of more than 10 people.

Ciccolo will appear in federal court in Springfield today for a bail hearing.

Press Association

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