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NYC woman sentenced to 15 years in prison for planning to build bomb to use in a terrorist attack

Judge's gavel. (Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/U.S. Air Force)

A Queens woman who planned to build a bomb and launch a terrorist attack against New Yorkers will spend the next decade behind bars, a federal judge decided Thursday.

Asia Siddiqui, 35, who pleaded guilty in August to posting information online about how to build and use an explosive, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday in Brooklyn Federal Court.

“Asia Siddiqui and co-defendant Noelle Velentzas were more than prepared to kill Americans and fellow New Yorkers,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney. “Today, Siddiqui’s fate has been sealed as we await one final sentencing that will decisively bring this case to a close.”

Siddiqui said Thursday that she first came across jihad rhetoric online while trying to get more readers to her blog.

That’s how she met Samir Khan, an Al Qaeda member who published Inspire, an English language jihadist magazine. At Khan’s request, Siddiqui began writing poems for a website called Jihad Recollections.

“I began to reflect on the poems I wrote for Jihad Recollections only after my arrest,” Siddiqui, wearing brown prison garb and a head scarf, said to U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson on Thursday. She also called her old writings “self-righteous and violent.”

Siddiqui and Velentzas, her former roommate, first began learning how to build a bomb in 2013, prosecutors said. They planned to use the explosives on law enforcement and members of the military, and even lauded the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The pair also discussed pressure cooker explosives used in the Oklahoma City bombing, the Boston Marathon bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center attack.

“You go for the head,” Velentzas said about attacking law enforcement agents, according to prosecutors.

The two were arrested by the FBI in 2015. The case was the result of a two-year FBI investigation.

Agents found propane gas tanks, car bomb instructions, machetes, knives and jihadist literature in their homes, prosecutors said.

“The defendant had a long-term commitment to violent jihad,” said U.S. Attorney Craig Heeren.

Siddiqui’s defense attorneys said their “tragic and lonely” client had changed since going to prison nearly five years ago, so much so that the federal Bureau of Prisons vouched for her good conduct.

“She certainly has come a very long way … I am struck by Asia’s self-reflection,” said defense attorney Linda Moreno.

Siddiqui, whose time spent in prison will count toward her 15-year sentence, apologized for her actions.

“I’m truly sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused and the people I let down. I deserve this timeout,” said Siddiqui, whose family sat in the front row of the courtroom. “Whatever time I get I promise to do with integrity.”

Velentzas is scheduled to be sentenced March 5.


© 2020 New York Daily News