Federal officials have revealed that Alexander Ciccolo, 23, the son of a Boston police captain, was arrested on July 4th as part of an operation against ISIS-inspired “lone wolf” jihadis.
According to ABC News, Ciccolo was “taken into custody on gun charges after buying two pistols and two rifles from an undercover FBI confidential informant.” Federal officials found his apartment “loaded with possible bomb-making equipment including a pressure cooker, a variety of chemicals, and an alarm clock, along with ‘attack planning papers’ and ‘jihad’ paperwork.”
NBC News adds that Ciccolo also had several “partially-constructed” Molotov cocktails, two machetes, and a “long, curved knife.” The Boston Herald explains that his firebombs were made from styrofoam soaked in motor oil – a mixture that would, according to Ciccolo, “cause the fire from the exploded devices to stick to people’s skin and make it harder to put the fire out.”
The FBI’s affidavit against Ciccolo said the jihad operation he was planning (and filling out paperwork for?) would have involved traveling from Massachusetts to another state, where he originally planned to use a pressure-cooker bomb, similar to the weapon of choice for the Boston Marathon bombers, to “conduct terrorist attacks on civilians, members of the U.S. military and law enforcement personnel.”
Later he refined his plan to target dorm rooms and cafeteria facilities at a state university, using both guns and bombs, with an eye toward broadcasting the execution of students live on the Internet. According to court documents, Ciccolo said Muslim students he encountered during his attack would “be permitted to help, sit tight, or leave.”
He reportedly tried to stab a nurse in the head with a pen during a routine medical screening after his arrest, “leaving a hole in the nurse’s skin.”
A senior federal official told ABC News Ciccolo was “a very bad person arrested before he could do very bad things.”
Ciccolo is also known as “Abu Ali al-Amriki,” and was reportedly a “recent convert to Islam” — a description that usually turns out to be false when applied to lone wolf jihadis, as it is later revealed they converted to Islam quite some time before they became radicalized, but calling them “recent converts” helps with the preferred No True Muslim storyline.
A glance at the FBI detention memo reveals Ciccolo was talking about going overseas to fight for ISIS in the fall of 2014 and was said to have been “obsessed with Islam” for the past 18 months. It’s not clear if that means 18 months from now, or 18 months from when the FBI found his jihad Facebook page in October 2014; but either way, the “recent” timing of his Islamic conversion is a matter of debate.
Meanwhile, the FBI describes him as an ISIS fan, inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings. “Allahu Akbar!! I got the pressure cooker today,” he told an FBI informant after procuring the essential component of the bomb he planned to make. He posted a photo of a dead American soldier online with congratulations to ISIS: “Thank you Islamic State. Now we won’t have to deal with these kafir back in America.”
He was also delighted by the brutal terrorist attack on a Tunisian beach resort in late June, declaring it “awesome,” and calling the jihad shooter “impressive.” He enjoyed the contemporaneous beheading of a businessman in France, tas well.
Alexander Ciccolo’s father, Boston police captain Robert Ciccolo, was one of the first responders to the Boston Marathon attack in 2013. He had reportedly been estranged from his son for several years, and alerted federal authorities when Alexander began “going off the deep end” and “spouting extremely jihadist sympathies.” Prior to this, the younger Ciccolo was said to have a “long history of mental illness.”