Two women, Asia Siddiqui, 31, and Noelle Velentzas, 28, were arrested Thursday on terrorism charges. It is believed that the two women had a plan to set off a bomb in the United States as ISIS supporters. Authorities have not yet revealed how advanced their plot was, but they are sure the public was not in danger. There will be a preliminary hearing May 4.
The two women had been roommates in Queens. They were also known as “Murdiyyah” and “Najama Samaa.” Both of these women are United States citizens. However, there was a criminal complaint filed that suggests that both women had “violent jihadist beliefs” and expressed these beliefs to an undercover FBI agent. The undercover agent met with them regularly since July 2014 as an “ISIS sympathizer.”
A source from federal law enforcement said the plot was “aspirational,” but “closer to operational” than other operations where the FBI has arrested jihadists. Siddiqui has a court-appointed attorney that says his client will be pleading not guilty. This case will be fought in court, says attorney Thomas F.X. Dunn.
Both women have been attending the Msjid Al-Hamdulillah Mosque with their families for five years. Velentztas went with her husband and little daughter; Siddiqui went alone. The imam believed that the Velentzas family was sincere, dedicated and honest. He said Siddiqui was involved in positive activities, and she prayed there. The iman was shocked that either of them were trying to help ISIS, or were jihad extremists.
Velentzas walked her daughter to school, and wore a hijab that covered her body and head but showed her face everyday. Her neighbor said that she was nice and she believed she was a good mother. There were absolutely no indications there were any strong, negative ideations, or support for ISIS, as well as other terrorist groups.
The FBI put together allegations indicating the women were preparing a terrorist attack for ISIS in the name of Allah. Siddiqui was believed to have a number of propane tanks, as well as directions that would show her how to convert the propane tanks into bombs.
Both of the women had done an incredible amount of time researching other bombings. Some of the bombings they studied were the 1993 World Trade Center, Oklahoma City in 1995 and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that went off near the finish line. Velentzas was more interested in the pressure cooker bombs used in the Boston Marathon bombings, in 2013. She liked the idea that a cooker pressure could hold many things at one time. Velentzas told the undercover agent that she wanted to attack government and military targets. Both women made it clear to the undercover agent that they wanted to set a bomb off in the city. They preferred the pressure cooker or the propane tank bombs.
August 2014, Velentzas, then 28, friended Tairod Pugh, a veteran of the United States Air Force, on Facebook. Pugh was indicted two weeks ago for inspired ISIS plans. After Pugh was arrested, Siddiqui made a comment that there were plenty of ways to please Allah right here in the United States.
There is a belief that the women supported terrorist organizations. Siddiqui spoke with individual members of al-Qaida, near the Arabian Peninsula. She gave her support to al-Qaida. In 2006, she was close with Samir Khan, founder of jihadist magazine Inspire, used as ISIS propaganda. Khan left his cushy life in North Carolina for Yemen, and was killed by a drone strike, in 2011.
In 2009, Siddiqui wrote a poem for a jihadi magazine called Take Me to the Lands Where the Eyes Are Cooler. In her poem, she tells the readers to take part in violent jihad activities and do away with Islamic enemies. Velentzas admitted that she and Siddiqui were Islamic State citizens.
Recently, Siddiqui suggested that she, Velentzas and the undercover agent work independently on their own jihad plans. In November, Velentzas began to question the undercover agent’s motives. She started to research him online to find out if he was actually an FBI agent.
The women are being charged with conspiracy to use a weapons of mass destruction in the U.S. If the women are convicted, they could receive the maximum life sentence. The condition of the arrests is unclear. However, John Miller, NYPD Deputy Commissioner, said it is part of a federal and local investigation.
In the past 18 months, over 30 people have been charged with joining or attempting to join terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. These extremists that have formed the group ISIS, believe that it is their job to bring on the start of Armageddon. Propaganda is everywhere and these women thought setting a bomb off in the city was going to do some good.
By Jeanette Smith
Photo courtesy of craigcb – Flickr License