2 women seeking ‘violent jihad’ arrested in NYC in ISIS-related plot
‘Multiple propane tanks,’ bomb instructions, contact with Al Qa’ida
Two women alleged to be enamored with “violent jihadist ideology” were arrested in New York City by the Joint Terrorism Task Force after a multi-year undercover investigation discovered they were trying to build homemade bombs.
The women were identified on Thursday as 28-year-old Noelle Velentzas and 31-year-old Asia Siddiqui, both U.S. citizens. A criminal complaint was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn before United States Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She was join by NYPD’s Commissioner William J. Bratton and representatives from the FBI and the National Security Agency.
“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt, and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” Lynch said in a statement.
Late Thursday afternoon, Manhattan attorney Thomas Dunn, who is representing Siddiqui, told reporters that his client plans to plead not guilty.
“She and I will address everything. I know it’s a serious case, but we’re going to fight it out in court,” Dunn said. He said that he would be providing further details later.
Attorney Sean Maher, representing Velentzas, requested medical attention for his client, according to reporters at federal court.
According to the court affidavit by FBI Special Agent Nicholas Hanak, the former roommates, also known as “Najma Samaa” and “Murdiyyah,” live in Queens.
Among other chilling details, Hanak reveals the women wrote terrorist poetry, were “obsessed” with pressure cookers and the science of bomb making, and discussed killing cops and military targets.
The joint investigation investigation revealed that the women possessed “multiple propane tanks” and instructions on how to transform them into explosive devises.
Velentzas expressed “violent jihadist ideology and an interest in terrorism,” Hanak said. For example, she praised the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and stated that “being a martyr through a suicide attack guarantees entrance into heaven.”
Velentzas also repeatedly told the undercover officer that Osama bin Laden and his mentor Abdullah Azzam were her heroes.
Siddiqui also expressed violent beliefs and had “repeated contact” with members of the terrorist organization Al Qa’ida, Hanak said. She became close to Samir Khan, author of the Blogspot blog “InshallahShaheed,” or “Martyr, God willing.”
After moving to Yemen, Khan became the editor of the magazine “Inspire,” which tries to recruit Muslims to the terrorist cause. Khan was also the author of the article, “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” and a manual calling for attacks within the U.S. Khan was killed in 2011 in Yemen.
Siddiqui herself wrote poetry espousing violent jihad, Hanak said in the deposition. After denying to the FBI that she had contact with him, she subsequently told the undercover contact that “she knew Khan before he was deemed a terrorist,” and that she needed to delete “stuff” from her email accounts.
Less than two weeks ago, according to Lynch, Velentzas was 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. Velentzas 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.”
“Why we can’t be some real bad bitches?”
Siddiqui told the undercover officer that Velentzas has been “obsessed with pressure cookers since the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013.” Velentzas told the undercover officer that she had recently received a pressure cooker as a present and joked, “You can find a lot of thing in [the pressure cooker], even if it’s not food.”
According to Hanak, Velentzas told the undercover officer, “If we get arrested, the police will point their guns at us from the back and maybe from the front. 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.”
In October 2014, Velentzas pulled a knife from her bra and demonstrated how to stab someone. She added, “Why we can’t be some real bad bitches?” and stated that people need to refer to them as “citizens of the Islamic State.”
The undercover officer appeared to go along with the women’s scheme, according to the court papers. He or she obtained a pdf of the “The Anarchists Cookbook,” a famous bomb-making handbook, which the women used to look up bomb recipes.
The women seemingly had a soft side, however. They allegedly told the undercover officer that the Boston Marathon bombers had made a mistake in attacking everyday people. “It is better to attack ‘the head, the neck, the shoulders’ of the snake,” Velentzas said.
The women were arrested Thursday in Queens, the head of the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism operation told AP.
In an unrelated case, a complaint and arrest warrant were also unsealed today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, an American citizen, with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Farekh’s initial appearance was scheduled today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky. Farekh was deported from Pakistan to the United States and arrested pursuant to the pending warrant.
In February, three man were arrested on charges of plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group and wage war against the U.S., and federal officials said one of them spoke of shooting President Barack Obama or planting a bomb on Coney Island.
Check back for updates.
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