As the Fourth of July approached, media in the United States widely reported terrorism attacks inspired by the Islamic State were possible. The FBI and Homeland Security Department had distributed a routine bulletin to law enforcement agencies warning officers to stay alert. However, there were no terrorism attacks targeting Americans on Independence Day.
The only risk of terrorism came from an FBI sting operation, which agents conveniently “disrupted” on July 4. It involved a mentally ill son of a Boston police captain.
Alexander Ciccolo, a twenty-three year-old who also apparently went by the name of Ali Al-Amriki, was arrested while carrying four firearms. He was previously convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor so Ciccolo was prohibited from possessing these weapons and charged with a felony.
An FBI informant delivered Ciccolo two handguns and two rifles to Ciccolo in Adams, Massachusetts on July 4. A Joint Terrorism Task Force unit arrested Ciccolo immediately after Ciccolo walked away with the firearms in a duffel bag.
In a memo [PDF] filed by the government requesting he remain in pretrial detention, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz states JTTF agents found partially constructed “Molotov cocktails” with “styrofoam soaking in motor oil.” Ciccolo allegedly intended to use the firearms and “Molotov cocktails” to “commit acts of terrorism.”
Yet, Ciccolo did not plan to conduct any sort of attack on the Fourth of July, according to documents filed against him. He allegedly wanted to do whatever he wanted to “before Ramadan was over, and no later than July 31.”
Is it a July 4 terrorism plot if the terrorism suspect did not have plans timed for the Fourth of July? And, if this is part of what fueled widespread fear spread by the media, what does that say about the FBI?
Once again, the public has an example of the FBI targeting and manipulating a mentally ill man. Ciccolo was not planning any acts of terrorism until the government became involved in targeting him.
From the detention memo filed against Ciccolo:
In the Fall of 2014, the FBI became aware that the defendant had expressed a desire to go overseas to fight for ISIL, a foreign terrorist organization. According to a close acquaintance, the defendant had a long history of mental illness and in the last 18 months had become obsessed with Islam. The acquaintance also said that the defendant had recently stated that he believed that the “faith is under attack” and that he is “not afraid to die for the cause.” The acquaintance advised that the acquaintance had received text messages from the defendant indicating that America is “Satan” and characterizing Americans as disgusting.
The person who tipped off the FBI was Ciccolo’s father, Captain Robert Ciccolo of the Boston Police Department. His father had been estranged from Ciccolo for some time. He told agents his son “was going off the deep end” and “spouting extremist jihadist sympathies.”
The FBI examined messages on Facebook posted under the name Ali Al Amriki. They apparently indicated to the FBI that Ciccolo wanted to go join and fight with the Islamic State. They showed he was “interested in martyrdom for the sake of Islam.” But, remarkably, it was not until months after Ciccolo was arrested and convicted of a felony for driving under the influence of alcohol that he became the target of a terrorism sting. (more…)