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A Boston police captain's son — reported to be mentally ill and obsessed with Islam — has been charged in an ISIS-inspired plot to set off pressure-cooker bombs at college cafeterias, federal authorities announced Monday.
Alexander Ciccolo, 23, who used the alias Ali Al Amriki online, was carrying a cache of weapons when he was arrested on July 4. He had been under close surveillance and in contact with undercover operatives working with the FBI, officials said.
Officials say he is the son of a Boston police captain, Robert Ciccolo. A Boston police official says it was the father who alerted the FBI to his son's interest in ISIS.
"The defendant told [an operative] that the attack would be concentrated in the college dorms and cafeteria and would include executions of students broadcast live via the internet," according to a detention memo filed by the government and unsealed on Monday.
Court documents say investigators received a tip last September that Ciccolo wanted to go overseas to fight for ISIS. The tipster said Ciccolo "had a long history of mental illness," and a Facebook profile under his name indicated "he was interested in martyrdom."
Ciccolo began talking with someone whom he did not know was an undercover operative, outlining his desire to travel to another state and attack bars and a police station by using a pressure-cooker bomb. He then changed his plan, saying he wanted to attack a college cafeteria.
The FBI watched him buy a pressure cooker at a WalMart in North Adams, Mass., the documents say. On July 3, an undercover operative gave him four guns that he had requested, and he was arrested a short time later.
Investigators say several "partially constructed" Molotov cocktails were found in his apartment, along with two machetes and a long, curved knife.
At a hospital where he was taken for treatment, authorities say, he stabbed a nurse in the head with a pen.
A detention hearing has been scheduled for July 14 at 3:30 p.m. in Springfield.
The Ciccolo family released a statement Monday afternoon through the Boston Police Department, reading:
"While we were saddened and disappointed to learn of our son's intentions, we are grateful that authorities were able to prevent any loss of life or harm to others. At this time, we would ask that the public and the media recognize our grief and respect our desire for privacy."