Queens women plead guilty in plan to build explosives for domestic terror

Posted at 1:16 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 13:16:39-04

NEW YORK — Two Queens women pleaded guilty to charges associated with plans to build bombs similar to those used in prior terror attacks, the Department of Justice revealed Friday.

Asia Siddiqui and Noelle Velentzas, both citizens of the United States and residents of Queens, 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 federal crime of violence.

The Queens women were arrested back in 2015 for allegedly trying to make a homemade bomb to use in a domestic terror attack, according to the head of the New York Police Department’s counter-terrorism operation.

When the defendants were arrested, the Department of Justice said law enforcement officers seized propane gas tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions, jihadist literature, machetes and several knives from their residences.

The department also said the women planned to use materials similar to those used in the Boston Marathon bombing, Oklahoma City bombing and 1993 World Trace Center attack.

Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism John Miller said at the time of their arrest that New Yorkers were never in danger.

Noelle Velentzas, 28, could not understand why U.S. citizens were traveling overseas to wage jihad when they could simply “make history” at home by unleashing terrorist attacks, according to a federal criminal complaint.

The complaint paints a picture of a disturbing trend in homegrown violent extremism.

Siddiqui had repeated contact with members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, published jihad-themed poems in magazines affiliated with the terror group and possessed propane gas tanks along with instructions on turning them into explosive devices, the complaint said.

When sentenced, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison.

Thomas Dunn, attorney for Siddiqui, said back in 2015 that his client intended to plead not guilty.