via Two Queens Residents Charged WithConspiracy To Use A Weapon Of Mass Destruction.
Noelle Velentzas (left), Asia Siddiqui (right)
Earlier today, a criminal complaint was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons or property in the United States.
As alleged in the complaint, the defendants have repeatedly expressed their support for violent jihad. For instance, in or about 2009, Siddiqui wrote a poem in a magazine published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that exhorted readers to wage jihad and declared that there is “[n]o excuse to sit back and wait – for the skies rain martyrdom.” More recently, Velentzas, who has characterized al-Qaeda founder Usama Bin Laden as one of her heroes, declared that she and Siddiqui are “citizens of the Islamic State” – a reference to the foreign terrorist organization that is also known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Less than two weeks ago, Velentzas, asked whether she had heard the news about the recent arrest of a former U.S. airman who had attempted to travel to Syria to wage jihad, stated that she did not understand why people were traveling overseas to engage in jihad when there were more opportunities of “pleasing Allah” in the United States.
Since at least August 2014, the defendants have allegedly plotted to construct an explosive device for use in a terrorist attack on American soil. In their self-proclaimed effort to “make history,” the defendants researched numerous explosive precursors. For instance, they researched and acquired some of the components of a car bomb, like the one used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; a fertilizer bomb, like the one used in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City; and a pressure cooker bomb, like the one used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The investigation recently revealed that the defendants possessed propane gas tanks together with instructions from an online jihadist publication for transforming propane tanks into explosive devices.
“Velentzas and Siddiqui are alleged to have researched how to construct bombs as part of their conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction on American soil,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Identifying and disrupting such threats to public safety, whether at home or abroad, is the number one priority of the National Security Division and our partners in the law enforcement and intelligence communities. I want to thank the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for today’s charges.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez stated, “The defendants allegedly plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing. We continue to pursue those who look to commit acts of terror and deter others who think they are beyond the reach of law enforcement. I’d like to thank Commissioner Bratton and the New York City Police Department for their partnership on this case and so many others.
“These defendants allegedly engaged in sustained efforts to obtain bomb-making instructions and materials, including using instructions provided by al-Qaeda’s online magazine,” said Police Commissioner Bratton. “The work of the NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau, its undercover Detective, and the seamless collaboration with the Special Agents and Detectives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and United States Attorney for the Eastern District should serve as a model for early detection and prevention of terrorist plotting.”
If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
More: 2 MUSLIM Women Arrested In New York City For Alleged ISIS-Inspired Terror Plot
Siddiqui was also known as “Najma Samaa” and “Murdiyyah,” according to the complaint.
Valentzas praised the 9/11 terror attacks to an undercover operative, according to the complaint, saying being a martyr in a suicide attack guarantees entrance into heaven. Valentzas used a picture of Osama bin Laden holding an AK-47 as the background image on her cellphone, according to the complaint.
Valentzas took an interest in pressure cookers following the Boston Marathon bombing, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, Valentzas said, “You can fit a lot of things in (the pressure cooker), even if it’s not food,” and then pointed to a thick rope and axe.
Valentzas also allegedly considered attacking the funeral for slain NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, according to the complaint. She allegedly said the funerals would be an “attractive target” for killing officers.
“If we get arrested, the police will point their guns at us from the back and maybe from the front,” Valentzas allegedly said. “If we can get even one of their weapons, we can shoot them. They will probably kill us, but we will be martyrs automatically and receive Allah’s blessings.”
John Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism for the NYPD, indicated that other anti-terror cases are also in the works.
“There are always others in the pipeline, including after this case,” Miller said.
U.S. terror officials emphasized they believe Valentzas and Siddiqui were a real threat.
“They appeared to have the explosive materials necessary for a pressure cooker bomb; propane-type bomb,” King said. “These were serious terrorists.”
The news follows a series of arrests of terror suspects allegedly inspired by ISIS.
Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh of New Jersey was recently arrested for trying to join ISIS in Syria, authorities said. His arrest followed the arrest of three Brooklyn men who also allegedly attempted to join the terror group and wage jihad abroad, or commit terror attacks domestically if they were unable to.
Pugh and Valentzas were friends on Facebook, according to the complaint.
And more: Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui of Queens charged with plotting to detonate bomb in terror plot
Asia Siddiqui had ties to radicalism back in 2006 when she became close with Samir Khan, the creator of Inspire, a magazine from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the complaint said. Khan, who called for attacks in the U.S., was killed by an American drone strike in Yemen Sept. 30, 2011.
Siddiqui also supported Mohammad Mohamud, who was arrested in 2010 for planning to blow up a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon.
Last year, Siddiqui and Velentzas began to research electrical equipment and chemistry, reading “The Anarchist Cookbook” and the different ways to construct a deadly explosive weapon.
“They were the real deal,” the federal law enforcement source said of the women, describing them as being “radicalized and intellectually ready” to wage an attack.
“The only question,” the source said, “was when.”
Imam Charles Aziz Bilal of the Masjid Al-Hamdulillah mosque on Sutphin Boulevard in Queens said Velentza and Siddiqui attended services for about five years. Velentza and her husband would come by daily, often bringing their “very lovely daughter,” while he described Siddiqui, who is unmarried, as an “outstanding member.”
“We believe these charges are false,” he said. “We know they’re false.”
A curiously timed sting if nothing else. Considering Obama’s pick for Attorney General announced the charges. And these two jihadi-wannabes supported or had ties to many of the other Obama-admin stings.
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