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Two US Women Held in Alleged Bomb Plot

  • VOA News

FILE - Sailors line the bow of the destroyer USS McFaul as it glides past One World Trade Center and the lower Manhattan skyline, in New York Harbor, May 2014.

FILE - Sailors line the bow of the destroyer USS McFaul as it glides past One World Trade Center and the lower Manhattan skyline, in New York Harbor, May 2014.

Two New York City women have been charged with trying to build a homemade bomb to launch a terrorist attack in the United States.

A federal criminal complaint made public Thursday says Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui were arrested on charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.

Prosecutors say undercover investigators determined the women were plotting to attack police, government or military targets based on their "violent jihadist beliefs."

Authorities say the public was never in danger.

The complaint alleges that the defendants possessed propane gas tanks and instructions on how to transform them into explosive devices.

According to the New York Times,the complaint also says the women were in contact with members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and had viewed videos made by the so-called Islamic State militant group.

Investigators say Velentzas repeatedly expressed interest in terrorist attacks committed in the United States, alleging she praised the 9/11 attacks and said being a martyr through a suicide attack guarantees entrance into heaven.

Prosecutors also say Velentzas had been "obsessed with pressure cookers since the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013" and allegedly made jokes alluding to explosives after receiving one as a gift.

If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Meanwhile, a U.S. citizen thought to have been a top al-Qaida operative is expected to face federal terrorism charges Thursday in New York.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Muhanad Mahmoud al Sarekh, 29, was detained by in Pakistan by Pakistani forces and flown to New York. He was expected to be arraigned in U.S. federal court in Brooklyn, the
newspaper said.

Some information from Reuters contributed to this report.

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