August 23, 2019 / 6:00 PM / 24 days ago

Two NYC women plead guilty to plan to build bomb for attack on U.S.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two women inspired by radical Islam pleaded guilty in New York City on Friday to teaching and distributing information about the manufacture and use of an explosive, destructive device and weapon of mass destruction, federal prosecutors said.

Asia Siddiqui and Noelle Velentzas, both U.S. citizens in their 30s from the borough of Queens, face up to 20 years in prison when they are sentenced.

U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement the defendants studied some of the most deadly attacks in U.S. history as a blueprint for their plans to kill American law enforcement and military personnel.

Prosecutors said Velentzas and Siddiqui taught each other chemistry and electrical skills, conducted research on how to make plastic explosives and a car bomb, and bought materials to be used in an explosive device.

Siddiqui wrote a poem for a radical jihadist magazine edited by Samir Khan, a now-deceased prominent member of the militant group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. court in the Eastern District of New York.

Velentzas also espoused violent rhetoric, praising the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and stating that being a martyr through a suicide attack guaranteed entrance into heaven, according to the criminal complaint.

Law enforcement officers seized propane gas tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions, jihadist literature, machetes and several knives from the residences of the defendants when they were arrested, prosecutors said.

Attorneys for Siddiqui and Velentzas did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Howard Goller

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