Online Activity Provides Insight Into MA Man Arrested For ISIS Plot

  • July 13, 2015

Alexander Ciccolo

Alexander Ciccolo's Facebook profile picture

Alexander Ciccolo, a 23-year-old U.S. citizen from Boston, Massachusetts, is the 55th U.S. resident linked to terrorist plots and other activity in 2015. A closer look at one of Ciccolo’s Facebook profiles, which ADL began monitoring in 2014, sheds light on his views in support of terrorism, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) specifically.

Ciccolo was arrested on July 4, 2015, and charged as a felon in possession of a weapon. According to court documents, he had allegedly planned an attack against a popular bar frequented by university students and a college cafeteria, possibly with the use of pressure cooker bombs modeled after those used in the Boston Marathon bombing. He allegedly planned to broadcast the attack live on the Internet, a testament to the centrality of the Internet in terrorist activity.

According to court documents, Ciccolo had initially considered an attack on civilians, military and law enforcement, for which he also allegedly considered using pressure cooker bombs. As many as 5 other domestic plots in 2015 targeted the military, and as many as 3 other plots targeted law enforcement. At least 2 other domestic plots in 2015 involved attempts at replicating the pressure cooker bombs used in the Boston Marathon bombing.

A series of Facebook posts analyzed by ADL in December 2014 in which Ciccolo posted using the name Ali NoSisters Al Amriki (previously Ali Al Amriki, with the middle name added to indicate that he did not want women to add him as a friend, a further demonstration of his religious extremism) reveal Ciccolo's apparent embrace of terrorist ideology.

Ciccolo Facebook post ISIS Syria father dream

One of Ciccolo's Facebook posts

In a post dated December 1, 2014, he described a dream in which he was “running to Sham (Syria), climbing over walls, over fences, through train stations and across the country. It seemed like everyone was trying to stop me from getting to Sham. I eventually stopped running and turned around. There was a man pointing a pistol at me and my father was with him. I kept telling them to let me go, I was trying to reason with them. They wouldn't listen and continued trying to harm me. I then had to kill this man and my father.” In the same post, he also described a second dream in which he “needed weapons desperately, so I came up with a plan and stole the rifles an (AR15, and a shotgun) out of the trunk of a police car.”

Two days later, Ciccolo posted a paragraph about ISIS capturing weapons supplied by the U.S. and Israel (which he calls the “kuffar alliance,” or apostate alliance) resulting in both countries

Cicollo posted support for ISIS on Facebook

Cicollo posted support for ISIS on Facebook

“working against [themselves]” and “rot[ting] themselves from the inside out. They will suffer severe Hellfire and they will find themselves tortured souls.” One of Ciccolo’s Facebook friends commented on this post saying, “may almighty Allah help isis and in shaa allah rab (God willing) we shall become victorious above the shayatin (devils).”

Other statements further indicated his extremist and conspiratorial beliefs.

  •  “I only hope that I can serve Him the best I can and die a good death” (possibly referring to dying as a terrorist; posted December 1, 2014)
  • “If one does not learn to subjugate the other, one quickly finds the boot of the latter on his throat,” (December 16, 2014)
  •  “It is totally impossible to free associate with kuffar (apostates) if you are a practicing Muslim.” (December 23, 2014)
  • “The kuffar (apostates) contaminated all the food. Can someone please send me a complete halal food list for the United States?” (December 26, 2014)

According to court documents, Ciccolo also praised the June 2015 attack on a beach and hotel in Tunisia, calling it “awesome” and “a huge accomplishment.” Court documents also indicate that, earlier in the year, he posted a statement on Facebook that read, “Thank you Islamic State! Now we won’t have to deal with these kafir back in America” (with an image of a dead U.S. soldier; posted October 17, 2014)

Cicollo posted on Facebook about seeing Adolf Hitler

Cicollo posted on Facebook about seeing Adolf Hitler

Some of Ciccolo’s ideas may have also been fueled by anti-Semitic sentiments.On December 22, Ciccolo described a dream he claimed to have had in which he was “dressed in an SS uniform” inspecting children in a school and then he “saw Hitler and his face was so bright and beautiful.”

Ciccolo is one of at least 15 converts to Islam linked to terrorism in the U.S. this year. And he is far from having grown up with extremist ideologies: His father is a captain in the Boston police and reportedly informed counter-terrorism investigators of his son’s increasing radicalization.

He is the fourth man linked to terror plots in New England in 2015. Ciccolo’s alleged plot makes the 13th known domestic plot apparently inspired by Islamic extremist ideology this year.

News reports indicate that Ciccolo may suffer from mental illness.