Two Queens women were arrested for planning to detonate a bomb in the New York City area, according to a statement by FBI.
The FBI arrested the women on Thursday, saying the public was never in any danger and added the two were arrested without incident. Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, were arrested as part of a long-term FBI undercover operation.
The women were planning to detonate the bomb on behalf of ISIS, the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The FBI said the two “repeatedly expressed their support” for terrorist activities, including Siddiqui having written poetry for an al-Qaeda magazine. Velentzas described former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as a personal hero and had a photo of him holding an AK-47 as the background image on her cellphone, according to the complaint filed in support of their arrest warrants.
Siddiqui and Velentzas also declared themselves “citizens of the Islamic State,” according to the FBI.
The two allegedly plotted to construct an explosive device to use in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil since at least August 2014. They had researched a number of precursors to making bombs, the FBI added.
At one point, they researched and were able to acquire components to make a car bomb like the one that was used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. However, it appears that pressure cooker bombs—like the ones used in the Boston Marathon terrorist attack in 2013—were the women’s main focus.
“The defendants allegedly plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez stated.
Siddiqui possessed propane gas tanks as well as instructions for how to turn them into a bomb, the complaint said.
“As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland. We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people, whether by traveling abroad to commit attacks overseas or by plotting here at home,” said Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement.
The complaint said the two discussed several targets in New York City, including the 34th Street–Herald Square subway station in Manhattan and a police funeral.
The women appeared at a federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon, and a judge ruled that they will be held without bail, according to The Associated Press.
If convicted, both women could face life in prison.
“These defendants allegedly engaged in sustained efforts to obtain bomb-making instructions and materials, including using instructions provided by al-Qaeda’s online magazine,” explained NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.
Last week, authorities arrested a National Guardsman and his cousin who were plotting a terrorist attack on an Illinois armory. They were arrested in Chicago and are said to be inspired by ISIS.