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Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Roommates Charged|in NYC Terror Plot

BROOKLYN (CN) - A pair of female Queens roommates planned to pull off a suicide attack on American soil for al-Qaida, a federal indictment unsealed Thursday claims.

An undercover agent quotes Noelle Valentzas as praising the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and saying that "being a martyr through a suicide attack guarantees entrance into heaven."

Valentzas and her roommate, Asia Siddiqui, also allegedly had propane tanks to carry out their attacks, the district's prosecutor and America's future attorney general, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, said.

Court documents also describe Valentzas as believing that "a suicide bomber does not take her life; she gives her life in the name Allah."

In addition to telling an undercover agent that Osama bin Laden was her hero, Valentzas also said that the Boston Marathon attacks of two years ago made her "obsessed" with pressure-cooker bombs, according to the complaint.

Not worried about getting arrested, Valentzas allegedly told the undercover agent that her and her roommate would likely die at the government's hands." They will probably kill us but we will be martyrs automatically and receive Allah's blessing," the complaint quotes her as saying.

Feds say Siddiqui has had "repeated contact" with prominent members of the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP in the complaint.

In 2006, she allegedly linked up with Semir Khan, a prominent AQAP leader. Khan started a blog called "insallahShaheed," or "Martyr, God willing" from his parents' basement, feds say.

He then moved to Yemen to edit a magazine called Inspire, which the government says disseminates AQAP propaganda to "recruit Muslims throughout the world - including the United States - to join the cause with AQAP."

Among Khan's clips are articles called "I am proud to be a traitor to America," and "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," according to the complaint.

Siddiqui then wrote a poem in 2009 called "Take Me to the Lands Where Eyes are Cooled," which "calls for its readers to engage in violent jihad and destroy enemies of Islam," the 29-page complaint alleges.

In it, Siddiqui talks about dropping bombs as she swings on a hammock from "cloud nine with the smell of turpentine, nations wiped clean of filthy shrines."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Viktor Pohoreslky was scheduled to preside over a hearing for the women in the Eastern District of New York today.

Prosecutors say the women had propane gas tanks with instructions from an online jihadist publication for transforming them into explosive devices.

The federal government jumped in before anything happened.

"We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists," Lynch said. "As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland."

The women "allegedly plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing," Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez said in a statement.

The undercover agent quotes the women as appreciating what they can learn from "science." They allegedly understood that "many mujahdeen have lost fingers and limbs while making explosives and that the science of bomb-making is not necessarily simple."

Prosecutors say Valentzas then warned Siddiqui to be quiet when talking about explosives because the government installed bugs in Muslim establishments. She also allegedly told her to be careful to avoid watching certain YouTube videos because the government was watching.

The two women told the undercover officer in August 2014 of plans to detonate explosives on American soil, according to the complaint.

In addition to praising the 1993 attack at the World Trade Center and the failed bombing of Herald Square subway station, the women also praised Fort Dix attacker Mohammad Shnewer, prosecutors say.

Velentzas allegedly told authorities that they should watch for further demonstrations because "It's a war, it's a fucking war."

She spoke as well of not wanting to end up like Faisal Shahzad, who failed to blow up Times Square in 2010 with a car bomb, prosecutors say.

The undercover agent quotes Velentzas as saying she was "disgusted by the United States" and "hated living in the United States after President Barack Obama made a speech about bombing ISIS camps."

In November 2014, Valentzas "chided" the undercover agent for having not read "The Anarchist Cookbook," noting that "all Muslims, especially those who believe in an Islamic cellaphate, should have knowledge about weapons," the complaint says.

Valentzas then told the undercover officer that "she would never want to hurt anyone but, as a Muslim, she must acquire the knowledge to be ready," according to the complaint.

Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., on Thursday called for The Anarchist Cookbook and Inspire Magazine to be taken down from the Internet because they "are not, in my view, protected by the First Amendment."

AQAP is described by the feds as a "militant Islamic organization" operating primarily out of Yemen and Saudi Arabia since 2009. The United States designated it a foreign terrorist organization in 2010.

The group claimed responsibility for a failed Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound plane from Europe in 2009, and issued a videotaped message telling people they would "come for you to slaughter, and we have prepared for you men who love death like you love life."

If convicted, the women face life in prison.

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