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Federal prosecution files to hide identity of undercover agent in terror case

By Sadef Ali Kully

Prosecutors in the federal case of two Queens women accused of plotting a terror attack filed a request Tuesday for a protective order for unclassified materials, including the identity of the undercover agent who befriended them, in Brooklyn federal court.

According to the federal court records, prosecutors asked for a protective order to limit discovery materials that will be produced in the case to protect the identity of an undercover law enforcement officer involved in the investigation and to preclude the dissemination of instructions, research and other materials related to the building of an explosive device.

In litigation, a protective order prevents the disclosure of sensitive information under certain conditions.

The second status hearing held last Friday was scheduled after Asia Siddiqui, one of the two women from Jamaica suspected of planning a terror attack, refused to leave her cell and was absent for the May 20 hearing in Brooklyn federal court.

Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr., was vexed by her absence in the last hearing, but her defense attorney, Thomas Dunn, and the prosecution agreed that the dates had been changed without time to notify her.

Dunn requested a private investigator and another attorney in his firm to be vetted to receive evidence. Dunn said he had witnesses and 200 hours of discovery considered classified that needed to be processed.

Johnson said that another colleague would be accepted for the vetting process, but he denied the request for an investigator.

Dunn said after the hearing that 200 hours or more of evidence could take five weeks or more to process.

“Then I have go over the recordings with my client,” he said. “This can take a while. They cannot rush this case.”

According to the motion filed, evidence from the under cover agent to be produced consists of “audio and in some cases video recordings by the UC. These recordings contain the UC’s voice and likeness, as well as information about the cover identity used by the UC.”

Former roommates, Velentzas and Siddiqui, who lived with Velentzas’ husband Abu Baker and her two daughters, on 104th Road in Jamaica, were arrested in April and charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, teaching and distributing information pertaining to the making and use of an explosive, destructive device and Siddiqui has been additionally charged with making material false statements, according to the criminal complaint.

In the complaint, Siddiqui and Velentzas were accused by federal prosecutors of collecting and researching information on how to make bombs, including downloading the “The Anarchist Cookbook,” inspired by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing pressure cookers, and considering the funeral of two NYPD police officers as a target for their plot.

A former York College student, Siddiqui, who has been additionally charged with making false statements, allegedly lied about her terrorist ties, the complaint said. Siddiqui allegedly wrote a poem for an Al-Qaeda propaganda magazine and had been contact with its editor, who died in a drone strike in Yemen.

Both Velentzas and Siddiqui, who have pleaded not guilty to all charges, will have subsequent status hearings before the case goes to trial.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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