Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The son of a Boston police captain was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for plotting a terrorist attack for the Islamic State, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Alexander Ciccolo, 26, who also went by Ali Al Amriki, pleaded guilty in May to several charges, including attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.
"Make no mistake, Alexander Ciccolo was a committed soldier of [the Islamic State] who wanted to kill innocent people at a United States university with assault rifles and pressure cooker bombs, not an unwitting dupe who didn't understand the gravity of what he was doing," Special Agent in Charge Harold Shaw said in a statement. "He repeatedly expressed his desire to engage in acts of violent jihad against our country, and with this sentencing, he will now pay the price for conspiring with a foreign terrorist organization."
Ciccolo was arrested on July 4, 2015 after he received four firearms from an FBI informant. The informant had been speaking to Ciccolo about carrying out a terrorist attack inspired by the Islamic State, 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, like college cafeterias.
Ciccolo was reportedly inspired by the Boston Marathon bombing, in which the suspects used bombs made with pressure cookers.
After his arrest, law enforcement searched Ciccolo's home and found several partially constructed Molotov cocktails made from shredded Styrofoam soaking in motor oil.
The Justice Department said Ciccolo stated that he used that combination so the exploded device would stick to victims' skin and make it harder to put out.
The son of a Boston police captain, it was Ciccolo's father -- Robert Ciccolo -- who alerted authorities about his son's activities, which led to the 2015 arrest.
"The government recognizes that Captain Ciccolo's decision to come forward was heartbreaking," federal prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum filed Friday with U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni in Springfield, the Boston Herald reported.
But, the memorandum added, it was Captain Ciccolo's "agonizing" decision that "likely saved the lives of numerous innocent people."