Two New York residents inspired by radical Islam pleaded guilty on Friday to planning a terrorist attack using explosives against law enforcement and military targets in the United States.
Asia Siddiqui and Noelle Velentzas of Queens intended to use explosives and a weapon of mass destruction in their attack and studied the worst terrorist attacks in the country during their planning, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
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"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," said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue.
The women's plans were thwarted by law enforcement.
According to the DOJ, between approximately 2013 and 2015 Siddiqui and Velentzas were planning to build a bomb. They taught each other chemistry and electrical skills to create explosives and detonating devices. They researched how to make plastic explosives and build a car bomb, and also bought the necessary materials.
Explosives used in past terrorist attacks including the Boston Marathon bombing, Oklahoma City bombing, and 1993 World Trade Center attack were discussed by Siddiqui and Velentzas and they researched potential targets.
When the women were arrested in April 2015, propane gas tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions, jihadist literature, machetes, and several knives were seized from their residences.
Siddiqui made submissions to a radical jihadist magazine that showed her interest in violent terrorist-related activities. She wrote a poem that called for readers to engage in violent jihad and to destroy the enemies of Islam, according to the DOJ complaint. She also wrote that she "tastes the truth through fists and slit throats" and there is "no excuse to sit back and wait—for the skies rain martyrdom."
Velentzas also used violent rhetoric and praised the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She stated that being a martyr through a suicide attack guaranteed entrance into heaven. She also singled out government targets stating, "you go for the head" when you commit a terrorist attack, according to the DOJ.
According to Velentzas, "a suicide bomber does not take her life, she gives her life in the name of Allah," the complaint stated.
Additionally, Velentzas told an undercover officer that Osama Bin Laden and his mentor, Abdulah Azzam, were her heroes. On her phone, she had a background image of Bin Laden holding an AK-47.
"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," said FBI assistant director in charge William F. Sweeney Jr.
Both women face 20 years imprisonment when sentenced.