By Frank McGurty
(Reuters) – The son of a Boston police captain was indicted on fresh charges in connection with an alleged plot, inspired by Islamic State, to detonate bombs filled with nails and ball bearings in crowded public places, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.
Alexander Ciccolo, 23, of Adams, Massachusetts, was charged with attempting to use weapons of mass destruction in the planned attack, the Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts said in a statement.
He also faces a single count of attempting to provide material support to a “foreign terrorist organization.” Authorities said the suspect was inspired by Islamic State, a militant group accused by Turkey of carrying out a suicide attack at Istanbul’s main airport that killed 42 people this week.
Ciccolo, as known as Ali Al Amriki, was arrested in July 2015 after he received four firearms, including a Colt AR-15 rifle, from a witness who was cooperating with the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The suspect was recorded saying he planned to set off pressure cookers filled with gun powder, nails and ball bearings in college cafeterias and other places where people congregate, prosecutors said.
Before his arrest, police observed Ciccolo buying a pressure cooker similar to those used in the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three and injuring 264 people. FBI agents had put Ciccolo under surveillance after being alerted to some of his posts on social media.
Law enforcement authorities also found partially constructed Molotov cocktails when searching Ciccolo’s apartment. The devices contained a mixture of Styrofoam and motor oil designed to stick to the skin of victims after exploding, they said.
The suspect was initially charged with illegal possession of a firearm and assaulting a nurse at a county jail.
Ciccolo has received mental health treatment since childhood, sources familiar with the family told Reuters last year. His father had alerted authorities to his concerns about his son’s activities, the sources said.
If convicted in the charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, Ciccolo faces a sentence of life in prison and a fine of $250,000.
It was not known whether Ciccolo had an attorney, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office could not be reached for comment.
(Reporting By Frank McGurty in New York; Additional reporting by Tim McLaughlin in Boston; Editing by Alan Crosby)