One of two women sentenced for plans to make weapons of mass destruction.
A New York federal judge recently sentenced a Queens woman to fifteen years behind bars for her role in a bomb making plot that was meant to be a terrorist attack targeting the United States, according to Department of Justice (DOJ) officials. The woman, Asia Siddiqui, 35, was one of two people who were arrested and charged in April 2015. A federal investigation found the two women had discussed what types of bombs they would construct and acquired four propane gas tanks to carry out their plans.
In August 2019, Siddiqui and the other defendant, Noelle Velentzas, 32, pleaded guilty to a charge of “teaching and distributing information about weapons of mass destruction,” the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said in a statement.
“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch back in 2015. “As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland. We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people, whether by traveling abroad to commit attacks overseas or by plotting here at home.”
“Velentzas and Siddiqui are alleged to have researched how to construct bombs as part of their conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction on American soil,” added Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin. “Identifying and disrupting such threats to public safety, whether at home or abroad, is the number one priority of the National Security Division and our partners in the law enforcement and intelligence communities. I want to thank the agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for today’s charges.”
“The defendants allegedly plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing,” said Assistant Director in Charge Diego G. Rodriguez at the time. “We continue to pursue those who look to commit acts of terror and deter others who think they are beyond the reach of law enforcement. I’d like to thank Commissioner Bratton and the New York City Police Department for their partnership on this case and so many others.”
“These defendants allegedly engaged in sustained efforts to obtain bomb-making instructions and materials, including using instructions provided by al-Qaeda’s online magazine,” said Commissioner William J. Bratton. “The work of the NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau, its undercover Detective, and the seamless collaboration with the Special Agents and Detectives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and United States Attorney for the Eastern District should serve as a model for early detection and prevention of terrorist plotting.”
While prosecutors said federal agents successfully stopped the plans, Siddiqui’s attorney insisted in an interview “there was no indication that a bomb would have ever been built.”
“Inspired by radical Islam, Velentzas and Siddiqui researched and taught each other how to construct bombs to be used on American soil against law enforcement and military targets,” argued Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers. “They were thwarted by the excellent work of the agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this investigation and prosecution. For this, we are grateful.”