ISIS Sting...or FBI Catfishing?
Alex Ciccolo was arrested after weeks of talking to an FBI agent he thought would sell him weapons for a terror attack—and who likely knew he was mentally ill.
The latest suspect charged in an alleged ISIS inspired plot was arrested after an FBI informant provided him with four guns. Sources say Alex Ciccolo, 23, the son of a Boston police captain, has struggled with mental illness his whole life.
Ciccolo, of Adams, Mass., was arrested on the 4th of July on federal gun possession charges shortly after the informant provided him with two glocks and two rifles. Ciccolo was allegedly planning to use the guns to carry out an attack on a college campus that would include “executions of students broadcast live via the Internet,” according to complaint against him released today.
The younger Ciccolo revealed his plan of attack to the same FBI informant who gave him the weapons, according to the complaint. The Massachusetts US Attorney’s office says it was illegal for Ciccolo to be in possession of the guns because of an outstanding drunk driving conviction.
Ciccolo has been in and out of mental health facilities since he was a child until the age of 18 when he began to refuse treatment and live by himself, according to NECN.
The complaint against him also cites a source who attested to his “long history” of mental health issues. The same source says Ciccolo had become obsessed with Islam in the last 18 months, started to think his “faith is under attack,” and sent texts saying that America is “Satan.”
It’s unclear exactly what mental health issues Ciccolo has received treatment for in the past, though the indictment against Ciccolo makes one thing clear: he had serious daddy issues.
Ciccolo is the estranged son of Boston Police Captain, Robert Ciccolo.
Robert Ciccolo tipped off counter-terrorism agents to his son’s growing radicalism about a year ago, according to ABC News. He told the feds his son “was going off the deep end” and “spouting extremist jihadist sympathies.”
Counter-terrorism officials who communicated with Ciccolo through an informant were most likely aware of his mental health condition, as well.
Ciccolo’s father was one of the first to respond to the 2013 terror attack, according to ABC News.
His son’s terror plot allegedly spawned out of a plan to attack an unspecified police station. Robert Ciccolo’s cousin, Steven Ciccolo, is also a lieutenant on the Boston Police force, according to Boston.com. A source familiar with the Ciccolos says they both belong to a “big police family.”
Later, Ciccolo allegedly changed his target to a college campus, because it is more heavily populated.
To carry out the attack, Ciccolo was allegedly planning to rob a gun store and make pressure cooker bombs like the ones the Tsarnaev brothers used on the Boston Marathon finish line.
He allegedly told the informant they would need pressure cookers and “nails and things like that.”
“But I already have those,” he said. “And I also have aerosol cans and propane tanks to maximize explosive power.”
He also noted that the gunpowder would be expensive. The Boston bombers, paid $400 for fireworks they extracted gunpowder from in the marathon attack, he told the informant.
Last October, Ciccolo, who called himself Ali Al Amriki on Facebook, allegedly posted a picture of himself wearing a headwrap and holding a machete. “Another day in the forest strengthening myself,” he wrote.
He also posted picture of a dead American soldier and with a note that read, “Thank you Islamic State! Now we won’t have to deal with these kafir back in America.”
The name of the college Ciccolo was planning to attack is not listed in the complaint, but he allegedly told the informant it was “very sinful and has a crowd.” He also allegedly told the informant that when it came time to attack, other Muslim students would be “permitted to help, sit tight or leave.”
Ciccolo allegedly told the informant he was going to need “tons of ammo” and he wanted to carry out the attack before Ramadan was over. “I know what I’m doing,” he told the informant.
“We win or we die,” he said.
He allegedly began to put his plan together in early July.
In a July 2 instant message conversation he allegedly told the informant he was preparing the bombs, but then lamented that “the big thing is guns.”
When the informant told him he could help him out with the guns, Ciccolo replied. “You get the rifles. I’ll get the powder. Then next time we meet I want us to have at least those two things.”
On July 3, agents watched Ciccolo buy a pressure cooker from Walmart.
On July 4, agents arrested him immediately after the informant supplied him with the guns. Agents allegedly found he had several half-made Molotov cocktails made from shredded Styrofoam soaking in motor oil. Ciccolo allegedly told the agent the motor oil would make the fire stick to people’s skin so they couldn’t put it out.
Agents also seized two machetes and a long curved knife.
Once taken into Franklin County House of Correction, Ciccolo allegedly stabbed a nurse in the head with a pen, “leaving a bloody hole in the nurse’s skin,” according to the complaint.
Last week, FBI Director James Comey said in the previous month and a half the FBI has arrested 10 people with ties to ISIS in an attempt to thwart Independance Day terrorism attacks, but declined to provide names. The Daily Beast previously reported that the July 4th FBI arrests involved the take down of alleged terror cells in New York and Boston.
Ciccolo is set to appear in Springfield Federal Court for a hearing tomorrow. He is the third person charged in a Massachusetts Federal court in the last 7 weeks, not including Usaama Rahim who was shot to death after brandishing a knife around a Joint Terrorism Task Force attempting to question him about an ISIS-inspired plot to attack Boston Police. Rahim’s associates David Wright and Nicholas Rovinski are facing charges for material support of ISIS.