His father was one of the first law-enforcement officers to arrive at the scene of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 in which two Muslims set off two bombs near the finish line that killed three people and injured an estimated 264 others.
But now Alexander Ciccolo, the son of Boston police Capt. Robert Ciccolo, faces 20 years in prison after converting to Islam and plotting – in the name of ISIS – to use guns and homemade bombs to attack a university campus.
He pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts, a month before he was to go on trial, and his sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 5, reported the Boston Globe. The 25-year-old was arrested in July 2015 after he received four guns he ordered from a person who was cooperating with the FBI.
Prosecutors and Ciccolo’s attorney are jointly recommending a 20-year prison term, the Globe said.
His father tipped off authorities, informing them his son, known online as Ali Al Amriki, said he wanted to join ISIS.
The 25-year-old initially was charged only with being a felon in possession of a firearm and stabbing a nurse in the head with a pen after he was brought to jail, Fox News said. But later he was indicted on attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office said in a statement that even though he was “born and raised in Massachusetts, Alexander Ciccolo swore allegiance to ISIS and planned to kill innocent civilians in the United States on ISIS’s behalf.”
“Fortunately, someone who knew Ciccolo alerted law enforcement, and we were able to stop Ciccolo before he tried to kill anyone.”
Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer commented that the case is yet another in which “we see a convert to Islam getting the idea that his new religion requires him to commit mass murder of people who do not accept that religion.”
“Despite the fact that we see this again and again, authorities remain resolutely uninterested in the phenomenon of conversion to Islam,” he said.
‘Allah will provide’
Prosecutors, Fox News reported, said Ciccolo told a witness cooperating with authorities that he planned to commit acts of terrorism to support ISIS.
During a meeting with the cooperating witness arranged by investigators, Ciccolo said he planned to attack two bars and a police station in another state using pressure cooker bombs or portable microwave bombs, according to court records.
In a follow-up meeting, the Globe reported, Ciccolo said he instead wanted to target an unspecified “state university” using assault rifles and homemade bombs similar to the pressure cooker bombs used in the Boston Marathon attack.
Ciccolo told the informant the university was a better target because more people would be present, and he would allow any Muslim students present to “help, sit tight, or leave.”
Ciccolo also discussed attacking an unidentified bar that advertised a promotion to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling establishing same-sex marriage.
He wrote, according to a legal document, that the bar “supports the [antigay slur] so even better to destroy them.”
Ciccolo bought a pressure cooker the following day and told the witness in an instant message: “Allahu Akbar!!! [Allah is supreme] … I got the pressure cookers today.”
The witness asked Ciccolo if he wanted money to purchase the black explosive powder.
Ciccolo, according to the court records, replied, “Allah will provide.”
Prosecutors also say agents found partially made Molotov cocktails in Ciccolo’s apartment after he was arrested.
On Ciccolo’s Facebook page, investigators discovered, he posted a photo of a dead American soldier that said “Thank you Islamic State!”
Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston field office, said in a statement that any “material support of a terrorist organization threatens our national security, and had Mr. Ciccolo’s efforts to advance his agenda not been thwarted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, countless lives could have been lost in a lethal terrorist attack.”
Ciccolo converted to Islam a few years ago, according to his mother, Shelley MacInnes.
In an interview last year with New England Public Radio, Innes described her son as “very compassionate” and insisted he “would not hurt a fly.”