Local Reaction to Adams Terror Arrest: Fear, Disbelief, Gratitude

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The Murray Street, Adams, house that was the scene of an FBI raid on Saturday, July 4, is quiet on Monday, despite an announcement that resident Alexander Ciccolo, seen at left at a 2012 peace walk, has been arrested for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshires reacted with surprise, disbelief and gratitude on Monday when the news broke that the FBI raid in Adams on July 4 netted the arrest of a man suspected of plotting a terrorist attack.

In an affidavit filed in support of the government's detention motion, it is alleged that Alexander Ciccolo, aka Ali Al Amriki, 23, is a supporter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

According to the affidavit, Ciccolo had spoken with a cooperating witness in recorded conversations about his plans to commit acts of terrorism inspired by ISIL, 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. 

Prior to his arrest, agents had observed Ciccolo purchase a pressure cooker similar to that used in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Adams Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco said Monday afternoon that he had only heard what had been reported on iBerkshires.com but expressed gratitude for the law enforcement officers who handled the raid.

"Law enforcement and first responders at all levels of government, from right here in Adams to state and federal agencies are working tirelessly every day to keep us safe and we are grateful for that," he said. "I want to thank them for their efforts and particularly to Adams Police Chief Rick Tarsa and his officers for their efforts each and every day."

Murray Street neighbors said they were surprised to hear about the allegations.

"I’m shocked but I guess he figured he was going to a hick town and not get caught, but we have pretty good police department, and the FBI I think they did a fantastic job," said neighbor Wayne Tassone. "My hats off to them; they got this clown off of the street."

"It's wild," said neighbor Yvette Pinsonneault. "I am not really going to think much about it until we get some real facts. It doesn’t pay to speculate. ... But he must have figured Adams is a good place to hide."

Neighbor Loretta Rysz-Vinette said she didn't know the suspect because there was a lot of turnover in the building.

"I don't know what he was up to because I didn’t see much of him. I only saw his car was parked there, which is nothing, because they rent those apartments all the time and different people are in and out and you don't want to seem like you’re nosy," she said. "You don’t expect this kind of thing to happen in Adams, but people are strange."

Reaction on social media also was swift and startled.

"This is super scary and I'm glad they caught the crazy before things happened," said one Facebook poster.

"This hits far to close to home! If there is one there are most likely more," said another.

"In our neighborhood. Vigilance always important," said another.

Another poster offered important advice: "Just remember if you see something. Say something. Thank God someone knew what he was planning and told the authorities."

Officials allege that Ciccolo had become obsessed with Islam and told an FBI informant that the "faith is under attack" and that he is “not afraid to die for the cause." The acquaintance said he had received text messages from Ciccolo stating that America is "Satan" and characterizing Americans as disgusting.

Ciccolo's father, Boston Police Capt. Robert Ciccolo, had informed the FBI about a disturbing conversation with his son earlier this year, according to the Boston Globe. The FBI and U.S. Attorney's office have not confirmed that information.

On July 3, the day before the raid on the Murray Street home in Adams, FBI agents observed the defendant purchase a pressure cooker at the Walmart in North Adams. When the home was raided, official found four firearms — two rifles and two handguns — as well as several partially constructed "Molotov cocktails."

These incendiary devices contained what appeared to be shredded Styrofoam soaking in motor oil, which the defendant had told the informant would cause the fire from the exploded devices to stick to people's skin and make it harder to put the fire out. Agents also found two machetes and a long curved knife in the defendant’s apartment.

A detention hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 14, at 3:30 p.m. in U.S. District Court in Springfield.

Adams Police Chief Richard Tarsa was not immediately available for comment but Pittsfield Police have a representative on an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and, in this investigation, the department lent its hand in the investigation. Pittsfield Chief Michael Wynn says the local force is constantly receiving information from federal investigators.

Wynn said law enforcement across the country has been aware and on the look out for the "home grown, lone wolf" terrorists.

There is a section of the population that seeks validation through various sources, he said.

It's a similar population they have seen join bike or street gangs. But now, many are finding that through jihadism. He said one thing residents can do is to pay attention when friends or neighbors start talking about doing violent acts.

Wynn said he understands residents were frustrated that federal investigations kept the information under wraps for more than a week but that that is what needs to happen sometimes to develop the best case and stop terrorist acts ahead of time.
"It is a little stressing that is is so close to home, but this is what solid investigations do," Wynn said.


Tags: #berkshireterror,   Adams,   guns,   terrorism,   

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Adams Suspends Memorial Building Request for Proposals

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The Memorial Building is once again on the backburner after town officials terminated a request for proposals for the long vacant structure. But the deadline for bids on revamping Russell Field have been extended.
Director of Community Development Donna Cesan said the town has decided to terminate the proposal process for the Memorial Building redevelopment with the hopes of reissuing the RFP again in September.
"For me, the proposal process, although needing to be stopped because of COVID-19, was still encouraging and validated there is keen interest in the building's potential," Cesan said. 
She said the financial impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic have guided this decision and she noted that the current financial landscape is not the most welcoming for potential developers.
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