Two Jamaica women have confessed to teaching and distributing information about making and using weapons of mass destruction similar to those used in prior terrorist attacks, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
Asia Siddiqui, 35, and Noelle Velentzas, 31, both of whom are citizens of the United States, 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. At sentencing, they both face up to 20 years in prison.
“In an effort to implement their violent, radical ideology, the defendants studied some of the most deadly terrorist attacks in U.S. history, and used them as a blueprint for their own plans to kill American law enforcement and military personnel,” stated United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue. “Thanks to the tireless work of law enforcement, they were stopped before they could bring their murderous plans to fruition.”
According to charges, between 2013 and 2015, Velentzas and Siddiqui planned to build a bomb for use in a terrorist attack in the United States. In order to execute their plan, they taught each other chemistry and electrical skills related to creating explosives and building detonating devices. The pair also conducted research on how to make plastic explosives, how to build a car bomb and also acquired materials to be used in an explosive device.
Velentzas and Siddiqui referred to devices used in past terrorist attacks, including the Boston Marathon bombing, Oklahoma City bombing and 1993 World Trade Center attack. The two also researched potential targets of attack, focusing on law enforcement and military-related targets.
Charges say that Siddiqui’s interest in violent terrorist-related activities was reflected in her written submissions to a radical jihadist magazine edited by Samir Khan, a now-deceased prominent figure and member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (“AQAP”). Velentzas also reportedly spread violent rhetoric, praising the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, saying that being a martyr through a suicide attack guaranteed entrance into heaven. Velentzas specifically singled out government targets stating, “you go for the head” when you commit a terrorist attack.
When Velentzas and Siddiqui were arrested, law enforcement found propane gas tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions, jihadist literature, machetes and several knives from both of their residences.
“Velentzas and Siddiqui were intent on waging violent jihad here in the United States, researching at length historical terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, educating themselves on how to turn propane tanks into explosive devices, and dreaming up plans to kill Americans on our own turf,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney. “Today’s plea is not only a welcome end to this years-long investigation, but a credit to the FBI’s JTTF in New York and our many law enforcement partners who saw this through to the end.”