Asia Siddiqui was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by United States District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. for her role in planning to build a bomb for use in a terrorist attack in the United States. Siddiqui and her co-defendant, Noelle Velentzas, pleaded guilty on August 23, 2019 to a charge of teaching or distributing information pertaining to the making and use of an explosive, destructive device, and weapon of mass destruction in furtherance of a planned federal crime of violence. Velentzas is awaiting sentencing.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the sentence.
“Lives were saved when the defendants’ plot to detonate a bomb in a terrorist attack was thwarted by the tireless efforts of law enforcement,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “This is precisely the reason why countering terrorism remains the highest priority of the Department of Justice, and working with the FBI, the NYPD and our Joint Terrorism Task Force partners, we will continue to do everything possible to stay steps ahead of aspiring terrorists and their evil plans to harm Americans.”
“With the sentence imposed by the court, Siddiqui has been held accountable for her crimes. Inspired by radical Islam, Siddiqui and her co-defendant researched and taught each other how to construct bombs to be used on American soil against law enforcement and military targets,” stated Assistant Attorney General Demers. “They were thwarted by the excellent work of the agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this investigation and prosecution. For this, we are grateful.”
Between approximately 2013 and 2015, Siddiqui and Velentzas planned to build a bomb for use in a terrorist attack in the United States. They taught each other chemistry and electrical skills directly related to creating explosives and building detonating devices; conducted research on how to make plastic explosives and build a car bomb; shopped for materials for use in an explosive device; and discussed explosive devices used in past terrorist incidents, including the Boston Marathon bombing, Oklahoma City bombing and 1993 World Trade Center attack. They then researched potential targets for an attack, focusing on law enforcement and military-related targets.
Siddiqui’s long-term interest in violent terrorist-related activities was demonstrated in her written submissions to a radical jihadist magazine edited by Samir Khan – a prominent figure and member of the designated foreign terrorist organization al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In a poem titled “Take Me to the Lands Where the Eyes Are Cooled,” Siddiqui wrote that she “taste[s] the Truth through fists and slit throats,” and that there is “[n]o excuse to sit back and wait – for the skies rain martyrdom.”
At the time of the defendants’ arrests, law enforcement agents searched their residences and seized tools of the trade for terrorists, including propane gas tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions, machetes, knives and jihadist literature.