Two New York City women who declared themselves "citizens of the Islamic State" were charged Thursday with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the United States, the Department of Justice said.
Justice Department officials announced that Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui "repeatedly expressed their support for violent jihad."
"For instance, in or about 2009, Siddiqui published a poem in a magazine published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that exhorted readers to wage jihad and declared that there is '[n]o excuse to sit back and wait – for the skies rain martyrdom,'" a Justice Department statement said. "More recently, Velentzas, who has characterized al-Qaeda founder Usama Bin Laden as one of her heroes, declared that she and Siddiqui are 'citizens of the Islamic State' – a reference to the foreign terrorist organization that is also known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Less than two weeks ago, Velentzas, asked whether she had heard the news about the recent arrest of a former U.S. airman who had attempted to travel to Syria to wage jihad and stated that she did not understand why people were traveling overseas to engage in jihad when there were more opportunities of 'pleasing Allah' in the United States."
The department alleged that the pair have been plotting since last August to build an explosive device to use in America, researching and acquiring components used for car bombs, fertilizer bombs and pressure-cooker bombs.
"The investigation recently revealed that the defendants possessed propane gas tanks together with instructions from an online jihadist publication for transforming propane tanks into explosive devices," the Justice Department said in a statement.
"Since at least August 2014, the defendants have allegedly plotted to construct an explosive device for use in a terrorist attack on American soil. In their self-proclaimed effort to “make history,” the defendants researched numerous explosive precursors. For instance, they researched and acquired some of the components of a car bomb, like 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 bomb, like the one used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing."
“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. “As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland. We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people, whether by traveling abroad to commit attacks overseas or by plotting here at home.”
Both Velentzas and Siddiqui face life in prison if convicted. They were scheduled to go before a judge Thursday.
This story has been updated.
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