The son of a Boston police captain was sentenced to 20 years in jail on Wednesday for being a “committed soldier” of the Islamic State and helping plan a terror attack.
Alexander Ciccolo, 26, of, Adams, Massachusetts, was first arrested in 2015 when his father Boston Police Capt. Robert Ciccolo contacted authorities about concerns he had over his son’s behavior. Prosecutors have since praised him for a decision that “likely saved the lives of numerous innocent people.”
According to a Justice Department statement, Ciccolo pleaded guilty in May on a variety of charges that included counts of “attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization,” “attempting to use weapons of mass destruction,” “being a convicted person in possession of firearms,” and another count of “assaulting a nurse during a jail intake process by use of a deadly weapon causing bodily injury.”
On Wednesday, he was sentenced to 20 years in jail and a supervised release. Lawyers for Ciccolo had argued that he suffered from mental health issues and the plan was not well planned out. Their client attended all hearings in Islamic dress. They claimed he is no longer loyal to the Islamic State, but to Islam itself.
“Not only did Ciccolo admit to supporting ISIS — a well-known terrorist group — but he also collected weapons and explosives in order to further their goal of murdering innocent Americans,” said John Demer, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.” This sentence holds him accountable for breaking our laws and putting American lives at risk.”
His plan involved using pressure cooker devices filled with “black powder, nails, ball bearings and glass,” similar to the ones used by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack. He planned to attack a university campus where he hoped to target a large concentration of people. Authorities also found several partially constructed “Molotov cocktails” following a search of his apartment.
“Make no mistake, Alexander Ciccolo was a committed soldier of ISIS who wanted to kill innocent people at a United States university with assault rifles and pressure cooker bombs, not an unwitting dupe who didn’t understand the gravity of what he was doing,” added FBI Special Agent in Special Agent in Charge Harold H. Shaw.
“He repeatedly expressed his desire to engage in acts of violent jihad against our country, and with this sentencing, he will now pay the price for conspiring with a foreign terrorist organization,” he continued.
Cicollo’s mother and stepfather, Shelley and Stuart MacInnes, issued a statement saying the sentence was “unjust and harsh” and that their son had been unfairly portrayed by the media.
“His sentence is unjust and harsh and Alex is undeserving of it. But we have no place in our hearts for anger or shame,” their statement read. “We are proud of our son for who he truly is, not how he is portrayed by the media and those who do not even know him.”