الأربعاء , يونيو 17 2020

New York women held in 'bomb plot'

New York Skyline

The women lived in New York City and planned to hit targets in the US, the FBI says

The FBI says it has arrested two women accused of plotting to plant a bomb in the US.

The two women, who are US citizens, referred to themselves as “citizens of the Islamic State”, according to court documents.

Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui were until recently roommates living in the Queens section of New York City.

Ms Siddiqui had several gas tanks and instructions on turning them into bombs, the documents said.

Ms Siddiqui “had repeated contact with members of the foreign terrorist organisation al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” the documents said.

Her accomplice, Ms Velentzas referred to Osama Bin Laden as a hero, according to the US Department of Justice.

“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 Rodriguez, of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

The justice department said the two women have plotted to build an explosive device since at least August of last year and studied chemistry and electricity.

They did not have a specific target but at one point considered Herald Square in Manhattan, according to the court documents.

The justice department said they wanted to “make history” and researched the bomb-making techniques used in several major attacks in recent decades,

‘Pleasing Allah’

Ms Velentzas apparently criticised a US Air Force veteran who was recently arrested for attempting to travel to Syria engage in violent jihad.

She questioned why people would try to travel overseas when there were targets in the US that provided opportunities for “pleasing Allah”, the justice department said.

The documents say the women have been meeting with an undercover agent for several years.

Ms Siddiqui reportedly told the agent that Ms Velentzas had a particular interest in pressure cookers, which were used in the attacks on the Boston Marathon in 2013.

The two women are set to appear in court in New York in a few hours. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Last month, officials announced that they had charged 47-year-old Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, a US citizen and a veteran of the US Air Force, for allegedly trying to provide material support to the Islamic State.

He had been living and working in the Middle East for more than a year before his arrest, and had tried to travel to Syria to join the militant group.

Mr Pugh has denied all of the charges.

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