Massachusetts man accused of plotting college bombing due in court
The son of a Boston police captain arrested this month and accused of planning to bomb a college cafeteria on behalf of the Islamic State militant group is due in court on Wednesday to face criminal charges.
Alexander Ciccolo, 23, was arrested on July 4 after illegally receiving four guns from a person working with the U.S. Justice Department, which had placed him under surveillance after his father alerted authorities to his activities.
Ciccolo told an informant that he wanted to build bombs similar to those detonated at the Boston Marathon in 2013, and federal agents saw him buy a pressure cooker similar to the ones used in that attack, which killed three people and injured more than 260, according to federal prosecutors.
Authorities also said they found partially built bombs at his apartment that were filled with a mix of shredded Styrofoam and motor oil, a combination that federal prosecutors said Ciccolo believed would stick to victims’ skin, causing severe injuries.
Ciccolo will face two criminal counts when he appears in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts: One for illegally receiving four guns including two military-style assault rifles and one for stabbing a nurse with a pen while he was being booked at a jail in Western Massachusetts after his arrest.
He was prohibited from owning firearms due to a prior criminal conviction.
A federal judge unsealed the charges against Ciccolo on July 13 and ordered him held without bail the following day.
Ciccolo could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if convicted. In a video taken after his arrest and played in court this month, Ciccolo defended Islamic State’s hostage executions and agreed with an FBI interviewer’s assertion that in his view all Americans should be considered “enemies.”
U.S. authorities have expressed increasing concern about “lone wolf” attacks by citizens who become adherents of Islamic State and other militant groups, many of which have robust online propaganda operations.
Last month, officers in Boston shot Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, whom they suspected of planning to behead police officers on behalf of Islamic State. Rahim, a 26-year-old security guard, threatened officers with a large knife and was shot and killed after ignoring orders to drop the weapon, according to court papers.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, an adherent of al Qaeda’s violent Islamist ideology who carried out the marathon bombing, was sentenced to death last month.