Massachusetts man suspected of plotting Boston Marathon-style attack arrested

Reuters| Updated: Jul 14, 2015, 03:32 AM IST

Authorities said on Monday they had arrested the son of a Boston police captain who was building bombs in his apartment and planned to attack a crowded university campus cafeteria on behalf of the Islamic State militant group.

Alexander Ciccolo, 23, was arrested on July 4 for the unlawful receipt of multiple guns, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release. His indictment was unsealed on Monday. The college he intended to target was not disclosed.

Ciccolo has received mental health treatment since childhood, according to sources familiar with the family. His father recently alerted authorities to his concerns about his son`s activities, the sources said.

FBI agents put Ciccolo under surveillance after being alerted to some of his posts on social media. They watched him buy at least one pressure cooker at a Wal Mart store in North Adams, Massachusetts, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Paul Ambrogio.

Pressure-cooker bombs were used in the attacks on the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing three and injuring 264 people. Ciccolo is accused of being a supporter of Islamic State.

Last month, officers in Boston shot Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, whom they suspected of planning to behead police officers on behalf of Islamic State. Rahim, a 26-year-old security guard, threatened officers with a large knife and was shot and killed after ignoring orders to drop the weapon, according to court papers filed by the FBI.

"Lone wolf" militants pose a bigger risk to the United States than a large-scale operation, President Barack Obama and U.S. authorities have said.

Ciccolo told an informant he wanted to build bombs similar to the ones used in the attack on the marathon, according to the affidavit. Authorities said they found partially built bombs in his apartment.

"These incendiary devices contained what appeared to be shredded Styrofoam soaking in motor oil," Ambrogio said in his affidavit. Ciccolo allegedly said the Styrofoam would cause the fire from the bombs to stick to people`s skin, according to the affidavit.

Ciccolo was arrested after taking delivery of two Glock handguns, a Colt AR-15 rifle and a SigArms high-powered rifle, authorities said.

While at the Franklin County House of Correction, Ciccolo is accused of injuring a nurse by stabbing her in the head with a pen.

It was not known whether Ciccolo had an attorney.