SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A Boston police captain’s son, who authorities called a “committed soldier” of the Islamic State group, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Wednesday for plotting to use assault rifles and homemade bombs to kill Americans on a college campus.
Alexander Ciccolo, who went by the name Ali Al Amriki, pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in May, three years after his father alerted the FBI about his son’s desire to fight for the terror group.
Ciccolo’s lawyers say the man, who dealt with mental health and substance abuse issues, had poorly thought out plans and no real ability to carry out the attack. Authorities, meanwhile, described him as a loyal Islamic-State group supporter devoted to inflicting “maximum damage” upon the United States.
“Make no mistake, Alexander Ciccolo was a committed soldier of ISIS who wanted to kill innocent people at a United States university with assault rifles and pressure cooker bombs, not an unwitting dupe who didn’t understand the gravity of what he was doing,” Hank Shaw, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office, said in a statement.
Ciccolo was arrested in July 2015 after he received four guns he ordered from a person who was cooperating with the FBI. He pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, among other charges, one month before he was set to go on trial.
Prosecutors said he also planned to use homemade bombs similar to the pressure cookers used in the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon attack. Ciccolo was seen buying a pressure cooker shortly before his arrest.
Lawyers for 26-year-old Ciccolo identified the school in court documents as New Mexico State University.
After Ciccolo was arrested, he stabbed a prison nurse in the head more than 10 times, authorities said.
Before his arrest, he posted a photo of his Facebook page of Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with the words JUSTICE FOR JAHAR KEEP THE HOPE,” prosecutors say. They said he continues to espouse violent rhetoric, saying in a call from behind bars in April: “We’re at the point where Muslims are justified in using violence, yeah I do agree with that.”
Ciccolo’s father hasn’t spoken publicly about his son’s arrest. He told his son’s lawyers that he to this day doesn’t believe his son would have or could have followed through on his plans, his attorneys said in court documents. But his father, who was unaware of a specific plot, said he was worried his son might have done something “smaller and more impulsive,” the lawyers say.
Ciccolo’s mother, Shelley MacInnes, told New England Public Radio last year that her son is “very compassionate” and “would not hurt a fly.”