One of two women from Queens who were “inspired by radical Islam” has been sentenced for her role in planning to build a bomb for use in a terrorist attack, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue announced.
Asia Siddiqui, also known as “Najma Samas” and “Murdiyyah,” 35, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Brooklyn federal court after admitting to learning how to build a bomb to further a potential terror attack.
Siddiqui and co-conspirator Noelle Velentzas, 31, pleaded guilty last summer to a charge of teaching or distributing information pertaining to the making and use of an explosive, destructive device, and weapon of mass destruction in furtherance of a planned federal crime of violence.
Velentzas is awaiting sentencing.
“Lives were saved when the defendants’ plot to detonate a bomb in a terrorist attack was thwarted by the tireless efforts of law enforcement,” Donoghue said. “This is precisely the reason why countering terrorism remains the highest priority of the Department of Justice, and working with the FBI, the NYPD and our Joint Terrorism Task Force partners, we will continue to do everything possible to stay steps ahead of aspiring terrorists and their evil plans to harm Americans.”
Between 2013 and 2015, Velentzas and Siddiqui plotted to build a bomb to be used in a terrorist attack, teaching each other chemistry and electrical skills related to creating explosives and building detonators. The two also conducted research on how to make plastic explosives and how to build a car bomb.
Velentzas and Siddiqui also discussed similar devices used in past terrorist incidents, including the Boston Marathon bombing, Oklahoma City bombing and 1993 World Trade Center attack, and they researched potential targets of attack, focusing on law enforcement and military-related targets.
Donoghue said that Siddiqui’s interest in violent terrorist-related activities was reflected in her written submissions to a radical jihadist magazine edited by Samir Khan, a now-deceased prominent figure and member of the designated foreign terrorist organization, al-Qaeda.
Donoghue said that “Velentzas similarly espoused violent rhetoric, praising the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and stating that being a martyr through a suicide attack guaranteed entrance into heaven. Velentzas specifically singled out government targets stating, ‘you go for the head’ when you commit a terrorist attack.”
When Velentzas and Siddiqui were arrested, investigators seized propane gas tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions, jihadist literature, machetes, and several knives.
“With the sentence imposed by the court, Siddiqui has been held accountable for her crimes. Inspired by radical Islam, Siddiqui and her co-defendant researched and taught each other how to construct bombs to be used on American soil against law enforcement and military targets,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers stated. “They were thwarted by the excellent work of the agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this investigation and prosecution. For this, we are grateful.”
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