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Jamaica terror suspects skips pre-trial hearing

By Sadef Ali Kully

One of the two Queens women who have been accused of plotting a terror attack in the United States did not show up in court for a pre-trial hearing Wednesday at Brooklyn federal court.

Last week, Asia Siddiqui, 31, and Noelle Velentzas, 28, both pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against people or properties in the United States and to teaching and/or distributing information involving the making of a weapon of mass destruction. Siddiqui was additionally charged with making false statements.

Velentzas was present for the status hearing Wednesday, while Siddiqui refused to come to federal court, according to court sources. Siddiqui’s court-appointed defense attorney, Thomas Dunn, was not in court.

Velentzas’s husband, Abu Bakr, sat in the courtroom and Velentzas smiled weakly at him from across the courtroom. Siddiqui, Velentzas, Abu Bakr and his two children all lived together in a home on 104th Road in Jamaica.

A court source said Siddiqui was not present because she was under the impression that she did not need to be at the hearing so she refused to leave her cell.

According to the criminal complaint, a federal undercover investigation found that Siddiqui and Velentzas allegedly planned, gathered and shared material for a terror attack in the United States; expressed violent, jihadi beliefs and had alleged ties to terrorist groups.

The status hearing, which reviews where a case stands at the time, was presided over by Federal Judge Sterling Johnson.

Typically, during a status hearing, the defense and the prosecution will discuss evidence, scheduling of hearings on motions filed, trial dates and possible plea offers under the watchful eyes of a judge.

Johnson was not pleased with the reason why Siddiqui had refused to come to court.

“This is a complex case,” Johnson said. “She is not invited to court, she is ordered to come.” The judge asked the prosecution if a court order to force Siddiqui to appear in court was needed and prosecutors said it was unnecessary because her refusal might have been due to some confusion over the court dates.

Johnson also said that a date should be scheduled to vet the two defense-counsel teams so they can access classified documents and evidence related to the case.

He also rescheduled another status hearing this Friday, ordering to Siddiqui show up to discuss further details of the case.

If the two women are convicted, they both face life sentences in prison.

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