Twenty-six-year-old Alexander Ciccolo was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday after being convicted of terrorism charges, ABC News reported.
According to authorities, Ciccolo, who went by the name Ali Al Amriki, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and was planning an attack on a university campus using assault rifles and homemade bombs. Law enforcement said he also tried to recruit others to help him with the attack.
“Alexander Ciccolo planned to kill innocent civilians in the United States on ISIS’s behalf,” prosecutor Andrew Lelling said in the statement. “Even though he was born and spent most of his life in Massachusetts, Ciccolo decided to turn against his country and plotted to attack his fellow Americans.”
Ciccolo’s father, Boston police captain Robert Ciccolo, tipped off the FBI of his son’s interest in joining the Islamic State three years ago.
In a sentencing memorandum filed on Friday, federal prosecutors thanked Ciccolo’s father, who was also a first responder to the Boston Marathon bombing, for his “heartbreaking decision.”
“The government recognizes that Captain Ciccolo’s decision to come forward was heartbreaking,” they said. Because of that “agonizing” decision, they said Ciccolo “likely saved the lives of numerous innocent people.”
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Following the tip from his father, Ciccolo was arrested in July 2015 after he received four guns that he ordered from someone cooperating with the FBI. Due to a prior conviction, it was illegal for Ciccolo to obtain the weapons.
According to prosecutors, Ciccolo was also plotting to use homemade bombs in his attack like those used in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
“Ciccolo was seen buying a pressure cooker shortly before his arrest,” NBC News reported. When federal authorities searched his apartment, they found partially made Molotov cocktails.
Shortly before his arrest, Ciccolo declared his support of Boston Marathon terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Facebook, captioning a photo of Tsarnaev, “JUSTICE FOR JAHAR KEEP THE HOPE.”
Following his arrest, Ciccolo attacked a prison nurse, stabbing her in the head over 10 times.
In May, Ciccolo pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, including providing material support to a foreign terrorist group, attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, possessing firearms and assaulting a nurse.
Ciccolo’s lawyers argue he struggled with mental health and substance abuse and wasn’t actually capable of carrying out the attack.
The FBI disagreed.
“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,” said FBI special agent Harold Shaw, who leads the Boston FBI office.
In addition to his 20 years in prison, Ciccolo was also sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release.
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