Government Moves for Pretrial Detention Based on Terrorist Attack Plans
An Adams, Massachusetts, man has been arrested and charged in connection with a plot to engage in terrorism on behalf of ISIL. The announcement was made today by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts and Special Agent in Charge Vincent Lisi of the FBI’s Boston Field Division.
A criminal complaint, charging Alexander Ciccolo, aka Ali Al Amriki, 23, with being a felon in possession of firearms was unsealed today. Additional information regarding Ciccolo’s plans was filed this morning in advance of a detention hearing to be held tomorrow afternoon in Springfield, Massachusetts.
According to the complaint affidavit, on July 4, 2015, Ciccolo took delivery of four firearms which he had ordered from a person who was cooperating with members of the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force, and who had been communicating with Ciccolo about Ciccolo’s plans to engage in a terrorist act. Ciccolo was arrested immediately after taking delivery of the firearms, which included a Colt AR-15 .223 caliber rifle, a SigArms Model SG550-1 556 caliber rifle, a Glock 17- 9mm pistol and a Glock 20-10 mm pistol. Ciccolo had previously been convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year in jail and therefore was prohibited from possessing firearms.
In an affidavit filed in support of the government’s detention motion, it is alleged that Ciccolo is a supporter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. According to the affidavit, Ciccolo spoke with a cooperating witness in recorded conversations about his plans to commit acts of terrorism inspired by ISIL, including setting off improvised explosive devices, such as pressure cookers filled with black powder, nails, ball bearings and glass, in places where large numbers of people congregate, such as college cafeterias. Prior to his arrest, agents observed Ciccolo purchase a pressure cooker similar to that used in the Boston Marathon bombings.
It is also alleged that during a search of Ciccolo’s apartment after he was arrested, agents found several partially constructed “Molotov cocktails.” These incendiary devices contained what appeared to be shredded Styrofoam soaking in motor oil. Ciccolo had previously stated that this mixture would cause the fire from the exploded devices to stick to people’s skin and make it harder to put the fire out.
A detention hearing has been scheduled for July 14 at 3:30 p.m. at the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The charge of being a felon in possession of firearms provides a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This investigation is being conducted by the Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin O’Regan and Deepika Shukla of the District of Massachusetts and the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
The details contained in the charges are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.