NEW YORK – Two female Islamic State sympathizers were arrested Thursday in New York during an anti-terrorism investigation undertaken by federal agents, police officials told Efe.
The two women were identified as Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, and they appeared Thursday before a federal judge in Brooklyn to hear the charges against them read, for which they could face life in prison if found guilty, law enforcement officials said.
The pair were arrested early Thursday morning in Queens by a Joint Terrorism Task Force team, which is part of the FBI.
According to prosecutors, Velentzas and Siddiqui since last August had been planning to build bombs to stage attacks on U.S. territory, and over the past few months they had been acquiring various bomb-making materials to do so.
Authorities said that the pair have expressed their support for “violent jihad” since 2009 and in Siddiqui’s case, she even wrote a poem that appeared in a magazine published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Velentzas is said to have considered Osama bin Laden one of her “heroes” and recently she said that both she and Siddiqui are “daughters of the Islamic State,” according to a communique released by the Attorney General’s Office.
When asked about the recent arrest of a U.S. Army officer who had intended to travel to Syria to join jihadist forces there, Velentzas said that she did not understand people who go abroad when there are more opportunities to “please Allah” in the United States.
“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.
In recent months, federal authorities have filed charges against at least 30 people accused of trying to join or to enlarge the ranks of terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.