The FBI is trying to establish whether a third person was involved with Alexander Ciccolo, 24, in a plot to attack a university with explosives and guns at the prodding of the Islamic State, the Boston Globe is reporting.
FBI Special Agent Jeffrey J. Lawrence, disclosing this in an affidavit filed in a U.S. District Court, said that Ciccolo was assisting authorities and had confessed that he had discussed his extremist plans with another person.
A witness had alerted authorities to the dastardly plot to attack a school in June, 2015. He was told by the FBI to go ahead and provide weapons to Alexander Ciccolo, who was then arrested for possessing two handguns and two rifles.
Ciccolo allegedly confided in the witness that “there was a brother who wanted to be involved a while ago and he has not been responding to my messages.” The witness provided evidence of the June 1 online discussion he had with Ciccolo to authorities.
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Lawrence revealed in the affidavit that “it appears as though Ciccolo was telling (the cooperating witness) that at least one other individual had previously indicated that he wanted to be involved in his terrorism plot.” The court affidavit also alleges that Ciccolo talked about the idea of creating a terrorist cell to launch attacks against the U.S.
The affidavit is an application put forward by officials seeking right of entry to Ciccolo’s online Skype account and unravel the identity of this mysterious person.
Lawrence is arguing that terrorist groups like the Islamic State are using social networking sites to recruit soldiers, garner support and spread their ideology. The search warrant is asking Microsoft, which owns Skype, to provide the government with conversation content, written messages, and logs from Ciccolo’s account, “alialamriki1.” A spokesperson for Microsoft could not be reached for comment. But the company rest assured authorities that all the support required would be provided.
Ciccolo was arrested with a cache of weapons, including a colt AR-15 rifle, SigArms high-powered rifle, and two Glock handguns on July 4. He was under close scrutiny when he was taken into custody by undercover operatives. His apartment was searched, and Molotov cocktail bombs in different stages of completion, an alarm clock, and jihad material were discovered.
Shredded Styrofoam soaked in motor oil was found at the residence. Ciccolo had said the shredded Styrofoam would cause the fire from his bombs to stick to skin and be difficult to put out. He had planned to attack an unnamed university armed with guns and explosives, focusing on dorms and the school cafeteria during lunch time when they would both be brimming with people. According to an affidavit, he had said Muslims would be exempted from the massacre and asked to “sit tight or leave.”
Investigators say Ciccolo was inspired by the Boston Marathon pressure-cooker bomb attacks that had killed three people and injured 264 others, according to CNN. He had allegedly told an FBI undercover operative, “Allahu Akbar!!! I got the pressure cooker today.” Still chatting with the FBI informant, he had gone on to praise the Tunisia June terror massacre at a beach resort, saying “Awesome Awesome, you that ah, that brother in Tunisia was impressive.”
Ciccolo’s father, Boston police Captain Robert Ciccolo, a veteran with the police force and one of the first respondents during the Marathon bombing, had alerted the terrorist task force to the activities of his son, who he said had expressed a desire to fight for the Islamic State. He revealed to authorities that his son had a lengthy history of mental illness and in the last 18 months had become infatuated with Islam. He said he had occasionally received texts from his son, calling America “Satan” and Americans repulsive.
Ciccolo has been held without bail for charges of possessing firearms and stabbing a nurse with a pen while in custody. Prosecutors are building a massive case against him including charges of attempting to use weapons of mass destruction and provide material support for a terrorist organization. His attorney, David Hoose, declined to comment because of the continuing case but said his client had been labeled a terrorist by a plot the FBI had helped to create by setting him up with weapons.
[Photo by Northern Berkshire District Court/AP]