ISIS propaganda seems to have found its first adherents on US soil, after the FBI confirmed on Thursday two women were arrested in New York City for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack in the United States.
NYPD spokesman John Miller confirmed the arrests were part of a broader national security investigation conducted by both local police forces and federal agents, although he fell short on details. “What I can confirm is that arrests were made by the JTTF and NYPD in a national security investigation earlier this morning in New York City,” Miller said.
The two alleged Islamic State sympathizers are Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui, 28 and 31 years old respectively. There is no indication they tried to resist the arrest when they were apprehended in Queens, N.Y., where the two had been living as roommates.
Noelle Velentzas befriended U.S. Air Force veteran Tairod Pugh on Facebook in August 2014, police sources say. Pugh is another American citizen thought to have been inspired by ISIS and he was arrested two weeks ago. On the other hand, FBI confirmed Asia Siddiqui actually contacted Al Qaeda members on more than one occasion after several visits in Yemen, the country were the terrorist group currently operates from.
The federal authorities suspect the two women were working to create explosive devices that they were planning to detonate in the United States. The FBI report says Velentzas “obsessed with pressure cookers since the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013” and alluded making her own explosives inspired by those used in Boston.
Reacting to Pugh’s arrest, Velentzas allegedly said she does not understand why people feel the urge to go overseas to help the Islamist cause, when same thing can be easily achieved from within the US. She and her roommate met several times with an undercover FBI agent, during which they both asked to be called “citizens of the Islamic State.”
If the proof the FBI gathered will stand in court, then the fate of the two alleged terrorists is pretty much sealed. But the question still remains why the bureau chose to make the arrest at this time and not keep the undercover operation going. It is believed Velentzas became suspicious she was under FBI surveillance since November last year and did some online research on the undercover agent.
Another possibility is that the two women had gathered all the material they needed for a homemade bomb. According to this scenario, the FBI rushed to make the arrest to prevent an imminent terrorist attack in the United States. The complaint claims Siddiqui was “in possession of multiple propane gas tanks, as well as instructions for how to transform propane tanks into explosive devices.”
Federal authorities reassured US citizens that preventing terrorist attack is one of their top priorities. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch said Velentzas and Siddiqui had both the knowledge and the motivation to conduct an attack on the homeland at the time of their arrest. “We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” Lynch promised.
Image Source: Heavy