By Sadef Ali Kully
Two Jamaica women were arrested Thursday and charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons or property in the United States, the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn said.
Roommates, Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, were scheduled to appear later in the day before U.S. Magistrate Viktor Pohorelsky in Brooklyn federal court.
The charges were announced by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton
According to the criminal complaint, the defendants repeatedly expressed their support for violent jihad against their enemies. 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 Osama Bin Laden as one of her heroes, declared that she and Siddiqui were “citizens of the Islamic State” – a reference to the foreign terrorist organization that is also known as ISIS.
WABC reported the accused women live in Jamaica.
Since 2014, Siddiqui and Velentzas have allegedly plotted to construct an explosive device for use in a terrorist attack on American soil, prosecutors said. In their self-proclaimed effort to “make history,” both researched numerous explosive precursors, according to the complaint. 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 court papers said.
The investigation, which used an undercover detective, recently revealed that Siddiqui and Velentzas possessed propane gas tanks together with instructions from an online jihadist publication for transforming propane tanks into explosive devices, prosecutors said.
“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” Lynch said “As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland. We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people, whether by traveling abroad to commit attacks overseas or by plotting here at home.”
Bratton added: “These defendants allegedly engaged in sustained efforts to obtain bomb-making instructions and materials, including using instructions provided by al-Qaeda’s online
If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull