Video: Two women charged in New York for attempting ISIS plot

Propane tanks and pressure cookers formed the core of a bomb plot by two women in New York, an indictment unsealed today reveals, in what investigators say was an ISIS-inspired conspiracy. Noelle Velentzas and her one-time roommate Asia Siddiqui decided to conduct war at home rather than travel to the Middle East, and had already assembled a significant amount of material to pull off an attack when investigators arrested them. One particular inspiration, according to CNN’s Jason Carroll, was the Tsarnaev brothers and the Boston Marathon bombing:

In 2009, Siddiqui wrote a poem in a magazine published by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that urged readers to wage jihad. In it, she declared there is no “excuse to sit back and wait — for the skies rain martyrdom.”

The defendants also said they considered themselves “citizens of Islamic State,” referring to ISIS.

Prosecutors said the women “researched and acquired” components for a car bomb such as the one used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a fertilizer bomb like the one used in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, and a pressure cooker device such as the one used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

The women possessed propane gas tanks along with instructions from an online jihadist publication making explosive devices out of those tanks, the complaint said.

CBS notes that the indictment does not allege that they had contact with ISIS. However, one of them did have contact with another home-grown jihadi, a US airman who tried to make it to Syria in his quest to join ISIS:

Miller said there is evidence the women looked at ISIS propaganda on the Internet. But authorities say it didn’t appear they had direct contact with the group. …

Both women expressed violent jihadist beliefs and repeatedly expressed an interest in terror attacks in the U.S. when communicating with an undercover officer, the documents said.

Velentzas was allegedly friends with U.S. airman Tairod Pugh since August 2014. Last month, Pugh was indicted on terrorism charges after allegedly plotting to travel to Syria to join ISIS – one of several recent ISIS-related arrests across the U.S.

That’s certainly an interesting coincidence. Just how did a woman in New York manage to network with an airman from New Jersey while they both embarked on jihad? Either they managed to radicalize each other out of sheer random luck, or other parties have tried to connect resources here in the US for attacks.

ABC News reports that the indictment does allege connections to other terror suspects inside and outside the US:


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The public was never in danger, as it was all part of a lengthy undercover FBI operation. And court documents suggest any plotting was more aspirational than operational.

However, court documents cite direct connections to known or suspected terrorists inside the United States and overseas. …

Two weeks ago, after news broke about Pugh’s arrest, she said she didn’t understand why people wanted to join ISIS overseas when there are ways of “pleasing Allah” here in the United States, court documents say.

She allegedly said she was looking “to make history,” and in late December she and the FBI agent discussed possible targets for a bombing.

“We are living … the last war, the big war before the end of day starts, in English they call it Armageddon, we are actually living in that time, it’s not a joke, it starts in Syria,” she allegedly told the undercover agent.

The public was never in any danger, authorities say … except Siddique had actually found all of the components for the devices without the knowledge of the undercover investigator. She also had all of the instructions on how to build working bombs. Furthermore, there is some indication that they knew that the FBI had them under watch, based on Siddique’s attempts to find information online about the undercover agent.

Be prepared to hear a lot about entrapment and “amateur hour” in the coming weeks and months when it comes to those defending these two suspects. At least from the indictment, it seems that these amateurs almost outsmarted their pursuers.