(NEW YORK) — A Queens, New York woman who plotted to build a bomb for a terrorist attack inside the U.S. was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a New York federal judge on Thursday.
Asia Siddiqui and her co-conspirator Noelle Velentzas were arrested in 2015 following a lengthy undercover FBI operation that found the two were directly connected to known or suspected terrorists inside the U.S. and overseas, and had been radicalized at least in part by the terror group ISIS.
“With the sentence imposed by the court, Siddiqui has been held accountable for her crimes,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement Thursday. “Inspired by radical Islam, Siddiqui and her co-defendant researched and taught each other how to construct bombs to be used on American soil against law enforcement and military targets.”
Siddiqui plead guilty in August 2019 to a charge of teaching or distributing information pertaining to the making and use of an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction in furtherance of a planned federal crime of violence, according to the statement.
Velentzas, Siddiqui’s former roommate, is still awaiting sentencing, according to the Justice Department.
Investigators learned the pair had “taught each other chemistry and electrical skills related to creating explosives and building detonating devices, conducted research on how to make plastic explosives and how to build a car bomb, and shopped for and acquired materials to be used in an explosive device.”
They also discussed similar devices used in past terrorist incidents like the Boston Marathon bombing, Oklahoma City bombing, and 1993 World Trade Center attack and researched potential targets of an attack, focusing on law enforcement and military-related targets, federal officials said.
When the two were arrested, investigators seized propane tanks, car bomb instructions, jihadist literature, machetes and several knives from their residences. Authorities said they had moved to arrest them after an undercover agent who was in contact with Siddiqui raised alarm that she might try to move forward with an attack without telling the agent first.
According to court documents, nine years prior to her arrest, Siddiqui was known to be in touch with Samir Khan, an American who joined Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and became an editor of the group’s Inspire Magazine. Siddiqui once submitted a poem to the magazine titled, “Take Me to the Lands Where the Eyes Are Cooled,” in which she wrote that there is “[n]o excuse to sit back and wait – for the skies rain martyrdom.”
Khan was killed along with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
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