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A 23-year-old son of a policeman has been arrested and charged after an FBI sting showed that he was plotting to carry out an Islamic State-inspired attack on a university using pressure-cooker bombs and involving the execution of students which he planned to show live online. The sinister plot was uncovered after a tip to the FBI from a Boston police captain about his estranged son's desire to fight for the Islamic State.
The tip prompted federal agents to monitor and then arrest Alexander Ciccolo in connection with the alleged plan to attack a university, according to law enforcement officials and court records unsealed yesterday. Ciccolo, of Adams, Massachusetts, was inspired by the Boston Marathon bombers and allegedly plotted with a witness working for the FBI to set off explosives and shoot up a cafeteria at the unnamed university, according to legal filings unsealed in US District Court in Springfield. He was arrested on July 4 after allegedly receiving four firearms from the FBI witness and remains in custody. Ciccolo is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, the Boston Globe reported. According to the legal filings, a close acquaintance of Ciccolo, reportedly identified as his father police captain Robert Ciccolo, told the FBI that in 2014 he had expressed an interest in travelling to Iraq or Syria to fight with the Islamic State. The acquaintance told the FBI that Ciccolo had a history of mental illness and had become obsessed with Islam, court records show. According to federal authorities, the FBI learned after receiving the father's tip that Ciccolo maintained a Facebook profile under the name Ali Al Amriki and posted messages expressing an interest in martyrdom and a desire to fight for the Islamic State. The FBI later arranged for the unidentified witness to meet with Ciccolo on June 24 in Pittsfield. During the meeting, Ciccolo said he planned to attack two bars and a police station in another state and that he planned to use pressure cooker bombs or portable microwave bombs, a filing stated. But during a second meeting on June 30, Ciccolo said that he instead wanted to target a "state university", since there were more people there, and that he would allow any Muslim students present to "help, sit tight, or leave". Ciccolo told the witness that he would need firearms and pressure cooker bombs and that he would target dorms and the cafeteria, executing students and showing the carnage live on the Internet.