2 Queens Women Are Charged in Bomb Plot

Stephanie Clifford, New York Times, April 2, 2015

Two women living in Queens have been charged with planning to build a bomb that they wanted to detonate in the United States.

The women, Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, who until recently were roommates, were named in a complaint unsealed on Thursday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, and were expected to appear in court on Thursday afternoon.

Ms. Velentzas and Ms. Siddiqui, who are American citizens, appeared to be interested in jihad, according to the complaint, which said they had been communicating with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula personnel and had been viewing violent videos made by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

In the complaint, the government said the plot advanced to the point that Ms. Siddiqui bought four propane gas tanks and stored them in a stairwell outside her apartment. Earlier, the women had bought potassium gluconate at a Queens pharmacy, bought the fertilizer Miracle-Gro (which can be used as a bomb component) and read about and discussed bomb-making.

The complaint does not indicate that the women had a specific target. During the probe, investigators deployed an undercover agent, according to the government documents.

In conversations recorded by the government, Ms. Velentzas expressed “a preference for attacking military or government targets, rather than civilian targets,” the complaint said. The women “implied that their goal was to learn how to blow up a bomb from afar rather than conduct a suicide bombing,” it says.

In December, after the funeral of the New York police officer Rafael Ramos, who was killed in his patrol car, Ms. Velentzas seemed to home in on “whether a police funeral was an appropriate terrorist target,” the complaint says.

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Ms. Siddiqui and Ms. Velentzas both studied chemistry and other elements of bomb-making, including topics like soldering. In November 2014, they bought potassium gluconate at a pharmacy after reading about it in a chemistry book, the complaint says, then drove to a Home Depot to look at “copper wires, paint containers with the word ‘combustible,’ small and large metal pipes, a bag of sodium chloride, and heater fluid containers” along with manure, which Ms. Velentzas noted was used in the Oklahoma City bombings.

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