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2 New York Women Arrested Over Alleged Bomb Plot

Two New York women have been arrested on charges that they were planning a bombing attack.

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports authorities say the women, who are U.S. citizens, had allegedly bought components to make a bomb but had not yet picked a target. Dina filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Two things are a little different about this terrorism case.

"The first is that women, not young men, were allegedly plotting an attack. And the second is that Asia Siddiqui and Noelle Velentzas were older, 31 and 29 years old, than the young people typically attracted by violent extremism.

"According to the criminal compliant, one of the women had ties to an American who started an online magazine for al-Qaida. The other had allegedly asked to be seen as a citizen of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

"An undercover agent was introduced to the pair and joined them in their preparations to build an explosive. It is unclear whether the two could have put a bomb together on their own."

The New York Times reports that the women had allegedly already bought propane tanks to make the bomb, but the undercover agent appeared to "play a significant role in helping the women with the plan."

The paper adds:

"Since July 2014, the complaint says, 'Velentzas and Siddiqui have discussed constructing an explosive device to be used in a terrorist attack in the United States.'

"Ms. Siddiqui had developed ties to people in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the complaint states, especially Samir Khan, who became a leader in the group before being killed in 2011 in Yemen. In about 2009, Ms. Siddiqui published a poem in Jihad Recollections, a publication of the group. The poem, 'Take Me to the Lands Where the Eyes Are Cooled,' urged readers to commit jihad for Islam.

"Ms. Velentzas seemed partial to the Islamic State; after discussing President Obama and the United States' attacks on ISIS, she told the undercover agent 'that attacks on ISIS were tantamount to attacks on her own state,' the complaint says. She also watched videos of ISIS members beheading Syrian soldiers."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.