Alexander Ciccolo, 25, the son of a Boston police captain, pled guilty on Monday to plotting an Islamic State terrorist attack on a college campus.
He will face up to 20 years in prison for charges of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, illegal weapons possession, and assault with a dangerous weapon.
The Berkshire Eagle runs down the details of Ciccolo’s case:
Ciccolo was arrested July 4, 2015, after he allegedly accepted a small cache of weapons from an FBI informant.
He had come to the attention of authorities after his estranged father, a Boston Police captain, alerted them about his son’s expressed interest in going overseas and fighting alongside the Islamic State. He had been under surveillance by the FBI for about six months before his arrest, via a camera mounted outside his Adams apartment. Ciccolo told the informant that he planned to build a pressure cooker bomb packed with gunpowder, shrapnel, and debris — like the ones used at the Boston Marathon in 2013 — and detonate the device. He also revealed that he planned to attack a target like a college cafeteria in support of the Islamic State, and to broadcast student executions.
After arresting Ciccolo, investigators found at least partially constructed Molotov cocktails in his apartment and a recently purchased pressure cooker.
If a plea agreement had not been reached, Ciccolo’s trial was scheduled to begin on June 19. He initially pled not guilty and denied all of the charges against him when he was arrested in July 2015. His indictment said that he used the name “Ali al-Amriki” when communicating with supporters of the Islamic State.
The assault charge against Ciccolo was booked after he was arrested; he stabbed a nurse at the jail with a pen. Despite this, and the fact that he was once suspended from school for threatening another student, his mother insisted in July 2017 that Ciccolo is “very compassionate,” has a “deep respect for all living things,” and “literally would not hurt a fly.”
She theorized that he stabbed the nurse because he was disoriented from hunger due to his Ramadan fast, having converted to Islam several years previously after being raised as a Catholic.