Today in federal court in Brooklyn, Noelle Velentzas was sentenced to 16 ½ years’ imprisonment by United States District Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. for her role in planning a terrorist attack in the United States. Velentzas and her co-defendant, Asia Siddiqui, pleaded guilty on August 23, 2019 to teaching or distributing information pertaining to the making and use of an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction in furtherance of a planned federal crime of violence. Siddiqui was sentenced in January 2020 to 15 years’ imprisonment.
Mark J. Lesko, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s National Security Division; 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.
“The defendant expressed her support for foreign terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham by learning how to build bombs and other explosive devices and targeting members of law enforcement for terror. Today’s sentence imposes a just punishment on the defendant for her planned horrific crimes,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Lesko. “Counterterrorism and protecting the American people remain among the highest priorities of the Department of Justice, and this Office, together with the FBI, the NYPD and our Joint Terrorism Task Force partners, will continue to exercise extreme vigilance to incapacitate terrorists.”
“As part of her plan goal to wage violent jihad, Velentzas and her co-defendant Asia Siddiqui 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. “With the sentence imposed by the court, Velentzas has been held accountable for her crimes. The Attorney General recently reminded us that we must remain vigilant against threats from international terrorism, and we are grateful for those agents, analysts and prosecutors who were and brought Velentzas to justice before she could carry out her plans.”
Between approximately 2013 and 2015, Velentzas and her co-defendant Asia Siddiqui taught each other chemistry and electrical skills directly related to creating explosives and building detonating devices; studied the explosives used in past terrorist attacks including the Boston Marathon bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the 1993 World Trade Center attack; researched how to make plastic explosives and build car bombs; shopped for and acquired materials to be used in an explosive device; and assessed potential targets of an attack, focusing on law enforcement and military-related targets.
While engaging in these activities, Velentzas repeatedly expressed her support for promoting and waging violent jihad and her desire to commit acts of violence. Velentzas claimed that Osama bin Laden was her hero, and expressed praise for the September 11, 2001 attacks as well as Mohammed Shnewer, who was convicted of plotting a terrorist attack against members of the armed services at Fort Dix in New Jersey.
At the time that Velentzas and Siddiqui were arrested in 2015, law enforcement officers searched their residences and found tools of the trade for a terrorist attack, including propane gas tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions and jihadist literature, machetes and knives.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Craig R. Heeren, Jennifer M. Sasso, Josh Hafetz and Jonathan E. Algor are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Jennifer Burke of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
Queens, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 15-CR-213 (SJ)
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