BOSTON (Reuters) - A Boston police captain’s son suspected of plotting to bomb a college cafeteria on behalf of Islamic State was ordered held without bail on Tuesday after prosecutors showed a video of him defending the militant group’s hostage executions and declaring America the enemy.
Alexander Ciccolo, 23, appeared in shackles in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts, wearing a beard, glasses, and a tan jumpsuit. He was mostly silent during the detention hearing as prosecutors described him as a radical on the verge of killing innocent people, and his attorney countered that he should not be punished for political beliefs.
Judge Katherine Robertson ordered Ciccolo held without bail until trial. “His expressions of belief really lead me to question whether he would have a commitment to showing up to court (for trial)” she said, after watching a the video of an FBI interview with Ciccolo conducted after his arrest.
Ciccolo was arrested on July 4 on weapons violations after taking delivery of several firearms from an FBI cooperating witness. Investigators have since alleged he wanted to help Islamic State by attacking an unnamed university with pressure- cooker bombs he was assembling in his apartment, similar to those used in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack.
The case follows a handful of “lone wolf” attacks in the United States and Canada since last year by people authorities say were inspired by Islamic State, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq and has vowed attacks on the West.
Authorities began investigating Ciccolo after his father, Boston Police Captain Robert Ciccolo, alerted them to his interest in the militant group, according to sources familiar with the family.
FBI agents say they watched Ciccolo buy at least one pressure cooker at a Wal Mart store and later found partially built bombs in Ciccolo’s apartment, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Paul Ambrogio.
In the post-arrest video played in court on Tuesday, Ciccolo did not detail an attack plot but defended Islamic State’s hostage executions and agreed with an FBI interviewer that all Americans should be considered “enemies”.
His attorney, David Hoose, said Ciccolo had so far only been charged with gun violations and that his views on Islamic State should not be considered.
Last month, officers in Boston shot a man they suspected of planning to behead police on behalf of Islamic State and charged two others in the alleged plot.
Editing by Peter Cooney