Two women from Queens were arrested Thursday for plotting to launch a series of terrorist attacks with home-made bombs inspired from the 2013 bombings and other terror acts. The women were charged based on the evidence gathered against them by an undercover investigator that has been keeping an eye on them for nearly a month.
One of the plotters, Noelle Velentzas, reported to the undercover investigator that she was fascinated with pressure cooker bombs since the Boston Marathon attacks. She also made allusive jokes after receiving one pressure cooker as a gift.
Additionally, Ms. Velentzas used to carry a knife with her and boasted about it when talking with the private investigator.
Asia Siddiqui, Ms. Velentzas’s former roomate, was also arrested in the case. The pair briefly appeared in a Brooklyn court, where they acknowledged that they fully understood the charges brought against them.
Ms. Siddiqui’s attorney said that his client would plead not guilty to whatever indictment. He also expressed his concerns that it was a serious case, but he had no intention on giving up the fight.
The undercover agent reported that both women were strong supporters of a violent jihad on the U.S. territory. Their comments were also secretly recorded.
Ms. Siddiqui drew the attention of federal investigators in 2009, when she wrote a poem that was later published in an al-Qaida-funded magazine. According to investigators, the poem was calling to arms other jihadist terrorists. Ms. Velentzas told the undercover investigator that she was a big fan of Osama bin Laden and a “citizen of the Islamic State.”
But Ms. Velentzas made an even more disturbing comment after the killing of two NYC police officers shot down in a car police in December. The undercover investigator told prosecutors that the woman said that killing a police officer was easier to kill than buying groceries since that sometimes required waiting in a line.
But when the undercover officer told her that more than 25,000 police officers attended the two NYC cops’ funeral, Ms. Velentzas said that such funeral was a very attractive target to a bomb attack.
According to the criminal complaint, the two women were already preparing to build and explosive device since last year when they gathered the parts needed to put together a car bomb, a fertilizer bomb, and a pressure cooker bomb.
However, investigators decided to arrest the pair after Ms. Siddiqui obtained several propane gas tanks and a manual on how to turn the tanks into explosive devices. At that time, she told the undercover agent that she was “disinclined” to disclose her future projects.
Early Thursday, investigators found at the women’s homes three gas tanks, jihadist papers, fertilizer, a pressure cooker, and handwritten instructions on how to construct the bombs. They also found daggers and machetes.
“It is very, very important to note: there was never any imminent threat to our fellow New Yorkers. [The plot] was undercut before it could turn into something dangerous,”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said after the arrests were made.
Neighbors recall that Ms. Siddiqui and her brother lived in their parents home’s basement, but their parents didn’t live with them. They were surprised to learn about the woman’s plans since she was a quiet person.
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