Two women in New York City have been charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, the Justice Department said Thursday. The women, Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, "did knowingly and willfully" plan to use an explosive device in an attack on U.S. soil, the complaint against them reads. Both Velentzas and Siddiqui are U.S. citizens.
The Justice Department indictment alleges that the women researched methods to make car bombs, fertilizer bombs, and pressure-cooker bombs. The complaint alleges that Siddiqui obtained "multiple propane tanks" and had instructions on "how to transform propane tanks into explosive devices."
"We read chemistry books with breakfast. Like, who does that?" Velentzas replied, "People who want to make history."
Much of the complaint stems from conversations between the two women and an undercover officer. Here are some of the standout details. Of course, all Justice Department claims are alleged until proved in a court of law.
â—† Siddiqui said that ever since the Boston Marathon bombing, Velentzas "has been obsessed with pressure cookers." Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are said to have used two pressure cooker bombs during their April 2013 attack. The latter brother is now on trial in the Massachusetts capital; his brother died during a manhunt shortly after the attack.
â—† The background photo on Velentzas's phone was "an image of [Osama] bin Laden holding an AK-47 gun." She told the undercover investigator that bin Laden's ideology was similar to her own.
â—† Velentzas told the undercover investigator that if she were to be arrested by police she would try to take their weapons. "If we can get even one of their weapons, we can shoot them," she allegedly said. "They will probably kill us, but we will be martyrs automatically and receive Allah's blessings."
â—† Siddiqui penned a poem for the magazine Jihad Recollections in 2009 called "Take Me to the Lands Where the Eyes Are Cooled." In the poem, she describes how she hits "cloud nine with the smell of turpentine, nations wiped clean of filthy shrines" and says there's "[n]o excuse to sit back and wait—for the skies rain martyrdom." The magazine, which is now defunct, was a forebear to the online magazine Inspire, an English-language publication first produced by al-Qaida in 2010.
â—† Siddiqui also wrote a poem in 2006 for a blog/website of Samir Khan, the American founder of Inspire who was killed in a drone strike in 2011.
â—† During one meeting, Velentzas and Siddiqui discussed how they should work to not be like Faisal Shahzad—the man who attempted to attack Times Square with a car bomb in 2010. Shahzad's device never detonated.
â—† The pair obtained a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook, a volume that documents how to make explosives with household items. "We must study this because they are killing Muslims," Siddiqui allegedly told Velentzas while discussing the book.
â—† The undercover officer also downloaded the book and during a conversation with the two women asked, "We read chemistry books with breakfast. Like, who does that?" Velentzas replied, "People who want to make history."
â—† In December, Velentzas said the shooting deaths of NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu was evidence of how easy it is to kill a police officer. "She added that killing a police officer is easier than buying food, because sometimes one has to wait in line to buy food," the Justice Department complaint states.
â—† Velentzas told the undercover investigator "why we can't be some real bad bitches?" and that she wanted to be referred to as a citizen of ISIS. She said this right after pulling a knife from her bra and demonstrating how to stab someone if attacked.
â—† Velentzas once called a video of a suicide bomb attack the "best video on the Internet."
â—† Velentzas told Siddiqui and the undercover officer "to be careful" when watching explosive-making instructional videos on YouTube, because the government could be tracking whomever watches them. She also cautioned against buying an overabundance of Clorox in case someone were to get suspicious and tell the NYPD.
â—† The two women often read up on chemistry using non-nefarious textbooks, too. In August, Siddiqui and the officer visited a public library to look up chemistry books for beginners. The two also met with Velentzas to learn about electricity and how it can be used to cause a fire or explosion. The two women "implied that their goal was to learn how to blow up a bomb from afar rather than conduct a suicide bombing."
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.