Terrorism charges for Adams resident Alexander Ciccolo
SPRINGFIELD >> A one-time peace activist and son of a Boston Police captain, Alexander Ciccolo, now stands accused of supporting the Islamic State and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.
A federal grand jury handed down indictments on the new charges Thursday, nearly a year after he accepted a small cache of weapons from an FBI informant cooperating with the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Ciccolo, 23, of Adams, is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges Thursday in U.S. District Court in Springfield.
After his July 4 arrest, Ciccolo, who also goes by the name Ali Al Amriki, was charged with being a prohibited person in possession of firearms. He also was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing bodily injury for allegedly stabbing a nurse in the head with a pencil at the Franklin County House of Correction.
The indictment handed down Thursday is the first that alleges Ciccolo was plotting a terrorist attack.
The plan, which evolved during subsequent conversations with the informant, investigators said, included setting off improvised explosive devices including pressure cookers filled with black powder, nails, ball bearings and glass.
Prior to his arrest, Ciccolo purchased a pressure cooker, similar to those used in the Boston Marathon bombings, according to court files.
He allegedly said he intended to execute college students and broadcast their deaths on the Internet.
Ciccolo said Muslim students would be spared during his assault, allowing them to stay, leave or assist if they wished to, according to court documents.
He ordered four weapons from the informant — a Colt AR-15 rifle, a Sig Arm SG550 rifle, a 9mm Glock 17 handgun and a 10mm Glock 20 handgun — and took possession of them July 4 in Adams.
He was arrested almost immediately after receiving them.
In an interview with authorities after his arrest, Ciccolo is seen telling the interviewer that the Islamic State has been doing good work and people who welcome the Islamic State are living well as a result.
"You don't hear about that in the news," Ciccolo says.
When asked about the violent nature of Islamic State takeovers and persecution of other lands and people, Ciccolo tells the interviewer: "I don't find this unjust, because Allah has commanded it ... Allah's law is most high ... There can be nothing else."
About nine minutes of that interview was played in court to support the government's argument that Ciccolo should be held in pretrial detention.
During a search of Ciccolo's apartment, investigators recovered items believed to be partially constructed Molotov cocktails. Those items contained what appeared to be shredded Styrofoam soaking in motor oil.
Ciccolo allegedly said that mixture would cause the resulting fire to stick to people's skin and be harder to extinguish.
His attorney, David Hoose, of Northampton, previously had said he expected new charges would be forthcoming, but he also lamented the gait of the case, calling it, "somewhat of a snail's pace."
A voicemail message left for Hoose Thursday afternoon was not returned by press time.
Ciccolo participated in a 2012 peace walk around Lake Ontario, organized by the Grafton Peace Pagoda in Petersburgh, N.Y.
By spring of 2013, Ciccolo had become "obsessed" with Islam, according to his father, Boston Police Capt. Robert Ciccolo.
In fall 2014, the senior Ciccolo alerted authorities to his son's stated desire to go overseas to fight on behalf of the Islamic State.
Ciccolo also came to the attention of the Anti-Defamation League in 2014, prompting the group to begin monitoring of his Facebook accounts.
The group said the posts reflected anti-Israeli, anti-American and anti-Semitic sentiments.
In a Dec. 3 post, Ciccolo mocked U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, which he said, resulted in providing the Islamic State with, "some of the best weapons in the world."
"Maybe the Israelis ... will be the cause of their own destruction. As will America," part of the post reads. "They will suffer severe Hellfire and find themselves tortured souls."
Part of a Dec. 22, post referred to Adolf Hitler. Ciccolo described himself "dressed in an SS uniform" inspecting children in a school when he "saw Hitler and his face was so bright and beautiful."
In another post, Ciccolo described dreams of moving a caravan of Muslims across the desert and stealing weapons from the trunk of a police car to carry out some type of plan.
"Allah has apparently decided to speak quite clearly to me," he wrote.
Among the pieces of evidence the government has collected in the case are phone calls and mail Ciccolo allegedly has sent and received while in custody and comments posted online from his Wordpress account, according to court filings.
Ciccolo faces life in prison on the weapons of mass destruction charge and up to 20 years on the charge of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
He has been held at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island while awaiting trial.
Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.