Two New York City women have been arrested in an alleged conspiracy to build a bomb and wage a “terrorist attack” in the United States, according to a federal criminal complaint made public on Thursday.
Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, devised a plot to target police, government or military targets based on their “violent jihadist beliefs,” according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
The two women, who were roommates in the New York City borough of Queens, conducted extensive research on how to build an explosive device and plotted to attack such targets as a military base or a police funeral, the complaint stated.
Velentzas and Siddiqui were charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property in the United States. They were slated to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Viktor Pohorelsky of the Eastern District of New York on Thursday afternoon.
If convicted, they face the possibility of life in prison.
Velentzas praised al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, considered former al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden a hero and said she and Siddiqui were “citizens of the Islamic State,” the complaint said.
The women also voiced support for beheading of Western journalists and others by Islamic State, the militant group that controls territory in Syria and Iraq, the complaint said.
The two women had been plotting to build a bomb since last summer, the complaint said.
They were doing research on building a bomb by reading college textbooks on electricity, watching online videos about soldering and reading “The Anarchist Cookbook,” a book first published in 1971 that contains instructions on building homemade explosives, the complaint said.
They looked for supplies such as wiring and chemicals in a pharmacy and a local Home Depot store, it said.
The two “carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who is President Barack Obama’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, said in a statement.
“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” Lynch added. “We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people,” she said.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Will Dunham and Susan Heavey)