The 25-year-old son of a Boston police captain pleaded guilty on Monday to planning terrorist attacks in support of ISIS on U.S. targets to cause mass casualties.
Alexander Ciccolo, also known as Ali Al Amriki, of Adams, Mass., pleaded guilty to two counts of terrorism, including one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS and one count of attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ciccolo also pleaded guilty to being a convicted person in possession of firearms and assaulting a nurse with a deadly weapon.
Ciccolo planned to set off improvised explosive devices including pressure cookers filled with black powder, nails, ball bearings, and glass in several locations including a university cafeteria where large numbers of people congregate.
According to the DOJ, Ciccolo purchased a pressure cooker and several partially constructed Molotov cocktails were found when his apartment was searched. The devices contained motor oil and possible shredded Styrofoam which Ciccolo indicated would cause fire from the exploded devices to stick to people's skin and make it harder to put the fire out.
"Homegrown violent extremists pose a serious danger to innocent Americans," said Assistant Attorney General John Demers in a statement. "Not only did Ciccolo admit to supporting ISIS, but he also collected weapons and explosives in order to further its goal: the murder of Americans."
Ciccolo was arrested in July 2015 after he received four guns he ordered from a person cooperating with the FBI. His father, Boston Police Captain Robert Ciccolo, according to Boston CBS news, tipped off law enforcement authorities after his son indicated he wanted to join ISIS.
"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," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling of the U.S. District of Massachusetts. "Fortunately, someone who knew Ciccolo alerted law enforcement, and the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorist Task Force was able to stop Ciccolo before he tried to kill anyone."
Lelling indicated that the threat of homegrown terrorism continues.
"There are a few lessons here: the threat of ‘homegrown' radicalization and terror continues, and we are safest when we work together to spot and contain these threats," said Lelling.
Ciccolo faces 20 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release.