Two women from Queens who were “inspired by radical Islam” admitted to charges that they studied some of the worst terrorist attacks in history to learn how to make bombs for a potential terrorist attack.
Noelle Velentzas, 31, and Asia Siddiqui, also known as "Najma Samaa" and "Murdiyyah," 35, pleaded guilty to teaching and distributing information pertaining to the making and use of an explosive, destructive device, and weapon of mass destruction, intending that it be used to commit a crime on U.S. soil.
“Inspired by radical Islam, Velentzas and Siddiqui 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 said. “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.”
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.
U.S. Attorney Richard 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. When they are sentenced, they face up to 20 years in prison.
“In an effort to implement their violent, radical ideology, the defendants studied some of the most deadly terrorist attacks in U.S. history, and used them as a blueprint for their own plans to kill American law enforcement and military personnel,” Donoghue said.
“Velentzas and Siddiqui were intent on waging violent jihad here in the United States, researching at length historical terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, educating themselves on how to turn propane tanks into explosive devices, and dreaming up plans to kill Americans on our own turf,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney. “Today’s plea is not only a welcome end to this years-long investigation, but a credit to the FBI’s JTTF in New York and our many law enforcement partners who saw this through to the end.”
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