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Queens Chronicle

Jamaica jihadis plead guilty in bombing plot

Pair studied bomb-making, planned attacks on government, police targets

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:30 pm, Thu Sep 5, 2019.

The two Jamaica women who were arrested in 2015 for plotting terrorist bombings in New York City pleaded guilty in federal court last Friday.

Noelle Velentzas, 31, and Asia Siddiqui, 35, 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 before United States District Court Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. CBS News reported both will be sentenced in December. They face up to 20 years in prison.

Law enforcement and prosecutors asserted from the time of their arrests in April 2015 that the women were motivated by radical Islam.

“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 Richard Donohue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement issued by his office. “Thanks to the tireless work of law enforcement, they were stopped before they could bring their murderous plans to fruition.”

“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,” according to FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William 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.”

“This investigation and the subsequent guilty pleas are yet another example of how each day the NYPD and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force remain vigilant and relentless in their efforts to protect New York City and keep America safe,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.

The women first were approached by undercover law enforcement in 2013, but Siddiqui might have been of interest to federal authorities as early as 2009, when she wrote a poem published in a magazine called “Jihad Recollections.”

In meetings and conversations with the undercover — earlier ones were not recorded pending the collection of more evidence — they discussed a desire to wage jihad.

“It’s war, it’s f---ing war!” Velentzas said in the presence of the undercover in August 2014. They also discussed the possibility of setting off bombs at police officers’ funerals such as those in December 2014 for NYPD detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were murdered while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn.

The women expressed admiration for the Boston Marathon bomber for his 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. At the time of their arrest they had acquired pressure cookers like the ones used in Boston, as well as propane canisters, torches, fertilizer, chemicals, pipes and soldering equipment.

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