SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A man from Berkshire County is accused of plotting to use guns and pressure cooker bombs in an ISIL-inspired attack on a college campus has been arrested. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced Monday that 23 year-old Alexander Ciccolo, a.k.a. Ali Al Amriki of Adams was arrested on a charge of being a felon in possession of firearms.
Because the government says that he planned to use the weapons to commit terrorist acts, they are hoping to detain him in advance of trial. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Springfield.
Ciccolo is the son of veteran Boston Police Capt. Robert Ciccolo, who was one of the first responders at the site of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. His family released a statement Monday afternoon, which the Boston Police Department posted on their website.
“While we were saddened and disappointed to learn of our son’s intentions, we are grateful that authorities were able to prevent any loss of life or harm to others. At this time, we would ask that the public and the media recognize our grief and respect our desire for privacy,” the statement reads.
The complaint affidavit says that Ciccolo had four guns delivered to him on the Fourth of July, from a person who had been cooperating with the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force. That person was allegedly communicating with Ciccolo about committing an act of terrorism. Upon receiving the guns (a Colt AR-15 .223 caliber rifle, a SigArms Model SG550-1 rifle, a Glock 17-9mm pistol, and a Glock 20-10mm pistol) Ciccolo was arrested.
The affidavit states that Ciccolo was recorded in conversations with cooperating witnesses expressing his intent to set off explosive devices- such as pressure cookers filled with black powder, ball bearings, and glass- at crowded places. He originally planned to go out of state to attack a police station and two bars (one of which he was specifically intent on targeting due to a Facebook post celebrating the court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage). Later, he stated that he changed his plans to attack a university cafeteria instead because there would be more people there.
The suspect allegedly wanted to carry out the attack before the end of the month, while the Islamic holy period of Ramadan was going on, and was planning to spare the lives of any Muslim students. “CICCOLO said that if a student was Muslim, then they would be permitted to help, sit tight, or leave. CICCOLO said that he knew how to use sniper rifles, and that he had grown up with guns. ‘I know what I am doing,’ he explained.”
The specific college that Ciccolo intended to target has not been named.
Agents also allegedly saw Ciccolo buy a pressure cooker resembling those used during the Boston Marathon bombings at the North Adams Walmart store. Inside Ciccolo’s apartment, agents reported that they discovered several “partially-constructed ‘Molotov cocktails.’”
“Ciccolo had previously stated that this mixture would caused the fire from the exploded devices to stick to people’s skin and make it harder to put the fire out,” a news release from Ortiz’s office stated.
Following his arrest, Ciccolo was brought to the Franklin County House of Correction in Greenfield. While going through a routine medical screening there, Ciccolo allegedly grabbed a pen and stabbed a nurse in the head. The stabbing was so forceful, that the pen broke in half.
Ciccolo’s previous felony conviction is on a charge of operating under the influence of