Two Queens Women Charged With Planning to Bomb Something Someday

Two women from Queens have been charged with planning to bomb some unspecified target. The news articles don't really tell the whole story. Here is the 19 page Affidavit in support of the Complaint.

They began studying how to make a bomb with an FBI agent in tow in an undercover capacity. He began meeting with one of them in 2013, and then with both of them in 2014, when the women were roommates. He met with them repeatedly, took them to Home Depot to get ingredients that could be useful in a bomb, printed them out copies of bomb making articles from AQAP's Inspire Magazine, as well as a copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook, and spent hours with them as they "studied" the materials.

The women told the agent they didn't know that they ever would use this knowledge, they just wanted to be prepared because the U.S. was at war with Muslims, and if it became time to set off a bomb, they didn't want it to fail to go off, as had happened to the Times Square bomber. Nor did they want to be suicide bombers. Nor were they in any hurry. [More...]

They said they wanted to study long enough that they would remember everything without needing to look stuff up. One commented she believed her future consisted of one of three options: She would be a grandmother, a dead martyr, or in solitary confinement.

The women were originally followers of al Qaida and AQAP. One of them, a graduate of York College, had been enamored of AQ since 2009, once writing to an imprisoned bomber in Oregon and another time sending a poem for publication to the predecessor magazine to Inspire.

The other woman was quite the student. During the two years of the investigation, she took courses in electricity, studied chemistry and shared what she learned with the agent.

The sting went on so long, that by late 2014 when ISIS began its current incarnation as a Caliphate State, they referred to themselves as "citizens of the Islamic State" -- although there's no mention they actually were in contact with anyone from ISIS. Nor is there any reference to them mentioning a Califphate, al- Baghdadi, or even the group's spokesman al-Adnani, who has called on supporters to launch attacks in their home countries. Instead, they praised Osama bin Laden.

They had no interest in bombing civilians, who they referred to as "regular people." Instead, if they ever decided to make a bomb, they thought a government target (like police or the military) would be better. When the helpful FBI agent told them about thousands of police officers attending the funeral for recently slain officers, and said an event like that might make a good target, they didn't care for the idea, because there would be "regular people" there.

One of them knew details of other bombing plots by al Qaeda, including the Times Square bomber, and thought she understood the ingredients in the bomb used in Oklahoma City. When asked what she intended to accomplish with her studies, she replied that she didn't have a plan and didn't need one:

VELENTZAS said they do not need a plan because plans are foiled or stopped. According to VELENTZAS, it was premature to discuss the plan and that, if the appropriate time ar1ses, they would know: Later, VELENTZAS explained that she would never want to hurt anyone but, as a Muslim, she must acquire this knowledge and be ready. VELENTZAS commented that the kufar (infidels) have this knowledge and use it to hurt Muslims, and so the group needed to be prepared. According to VELENTZAS, when Allah decides the time, they will know whether one person, or two people, needs to act. She went on to state that at this juncture, they did not need to have these talks because it was too early.

The helpful FBI agent told them that "the fertilizer bomb was the easiest, and that detergent and acetone is an easy combination."

When the Boston Marathon bombing came up in discussion, one of the women said:

VELENTZAS stated that the bombers had erred in attacking regular people. VELENTZAS stated that if so much time and effort is spent on studying, it is better to go for the enemy directly rather than people who are getting drunk or running in a marathon. VELENTZAS stated that it would be better to attack "the head, the neck, the shoulders" of the "snake" (i.e., enemy), referring to those who would harm Muslims, but not "the tail."

The helpful FBI agent studied with the women for hours at a time, went to eat with them, and drove them around to stores to buy things they might use someday. He asked them why they thought they needed to be prepared to bomb something.

Although describing herself as a "peaceful person," VELENTZAS stated, "I like to know how to defend myself, because I feel that' the people that control things are very f*ucked up people ... that become corrections officers, and that become public defenders, I mean prosecuting attorneys, that become homeland security, and these are f*cked up people - They're kufar .... But reality is, is that these people are violent and are f*cked up and you are living in a war that is against your religion."

She talked about "Armageddon."

VELENTZAS stated, "We arc living Al-Malahama, that's the last war, the big'war before the end of day starts, in English they call it Armageddon, we are actually living in that time, it's not a joke, it starts in Syria."

She talked about her future in America:

VELENTZAS described her existence as an "awake person in a mental concentration camp . .. it is a very lonely path." She added, "I might get old here and be able to put a lot of people onto wisdom and reason or I'm going to be in solitary confinement, and get raped or tortured, or I'm going to be killed in the street. That is your future in America."

She then stated, "I already have my mind set up that I only see three outcomes for my future." She listed the options as becoming a grandmother, shahada (death), or solitary confinement.

While Velentzas was the gabby bookworm, the other woman, Siddiqui, quietly on her own initiative stocked on some of the items they had discussed with the helpful FBI agent. One day, when Velentzas and the helpful FBI agent stopped at her house, she shocked them when she showed them the items she had accumulated. She told them, "Once we learn ... I got everything up in this joint." She said she had told Velentzas she was going to get the items, but Velentzas said:

"She's the master of not telling you sh*t that's really important" and "tell the doctor to give [SIDDIQUI] communication pills."

By now, it's March, 2015. The FBI agent asks Velentzas whether she heard about the former U.S. Air Force member, Tairod Pugh, who had just been arrested trying to travel to Syria. (He knows she has been friends with him on FB since August, 2014.) She criticizes Pugh's decision to go to Syria, saying there are plenty of opportunities here.

And with that, the FBI moves in for the arrest.

The FBI had an undercover officer planted with these women for two years. He spent hours at a time with them as they studied bomb making materials from scratch, and gradually learned what ingredients they needed to make a bomb. Instead of egging them on, driving them to Home Depot and providing them with materials from AQ literature and bomb making manuals, did it never occur to them the hours might be better spent coming up with a plan to get them into counseling, explain they were on a bad path or engage a local Muslim religious leader to explain their beliefs were contrary to the teachings of Islam?

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    Smells like another... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 09:21:53 AM EST
    manufacture "terrorists" to get a collar case to me, I guess with real crime at historic lows crime fighters need to get creative to justify their continued employment.

    I wouldn't scoff at outreach to those susceptible to the faux allure of islamic extremism...what's wrong with trying a more positive approach?  Fighting fire with fire just burns everything down...fighting fire with water makes more sense to me.  Some are surely too far gone down the rabbit hole, but these two don't sound like they are so hardened that they are lost causes...though they may be now after being entrapped by Uncle Sam.

    So, when will the FBI be classified as (4.67 / 3) (#4)
    by Anne on Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 09:39:11 AM EST
    a terrorist organization?  I mean how many "plots" can they be instrumental in creating before they are deemed to have crossed that line?

    Hmm, so it is your belief that the FBI (none / 0) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 04:20:51 PM EST
    agent somehow made these two want to do something?

    I mean if they had not wanted to, how could the agent make them???


    i wonder whether Anne (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by The Addams Family on Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 04:42:47 PM EST
    might be alluding to the possibility of entrapment, not an uncommon concern for attorneys defending people arrested in connection with sting operations

    Silly (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 05:01:13 PM EST
    only christians can be entrapped

    I can't remember the last "plot" (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Anne on Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 06:14:08 PM EST
    the FBI disrupted/discovered where they weren't instrumental in creating it.  

    I will point you - and jim - here, here, and here.

    One wonders how much of a threat terrorism really is if the only plots we hear about are the ones the FBI creates by exploiting vulnerable people.  

    And if terrorism is all about creating and taking advantage of fear, how can the FBI not be considered to be engaging in it themselves?


    And I wonder why the (none / 0) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 08:57:52 PM EST
    two wanted to build bombs, kill people, etc., etc. and if the FBI had not found them would they have done so.

    The problem is.....we don't know. How would this work as a gravestone saying...

    "They said they wanted to kill us but we didn't believe it."


    How far would they have gotten (none / 0) (#11)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Sat Apr 04, 2015 at 07:00:08 AM EST
    in their quest without help from the "informant"?

    It used ro be until the time of Blackstone, that imagining the death of the King or Queen of Englad was a crime.  

    Glad to see the FBI reviving this old law in modern-day republican America.


    How far did the Boston (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Apr 04, 2015 at 09:15:02 AM EST
    terrorists get without the FBI's assistance??

    We know the answer.

    Why you folks think that these two wouldn't have accomplished what they wanted to do without the FBI's intervention is a mystery to me.


    Um (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat Apr 04, 2015 at 09:21:33 AM EST
    the two wanted to build bombs, kill people,

    You want the government to build bombs and kill people for you.  Personally I can respect that they were at least willing to do their own wet work unlike you.


    The Boston terrorists had a plan (none / 0) (#13)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Sat Apr 04, 2015 at 09:21:17 AM EST
    these women didn't even have a plan or the ingredIents for a bomb, and it is unclear if they would have even gotten as far as they did without the encouragement of the informant in the first place.

    Yes, they did (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 06, 2015 at 08:10:42 AM EST
    In the complaint, the government said the plot advanced to the point that Ms. Siddiqui bought four propane gas tanks and stored them in a stairwell outside her apartment, which a law enforcement official said was on 84th Road in Jamaica, Queens. Earlier, the women had shopped for potassium gluconate at a Queens pharmacy, bought Miracle-Gro fertilizer, which can be used as a bomb component, and read about and discussed making bombs like the pressure-cooker bombs used in the Boston Marathon attack.

    When agents arrested the women at their apartments on Thursday, they found "three propane gas tanks, soldering tools, pipes, a pressure cooker, fertilizer, flux, detailed handwritten notes on the recipes for bomb making, and extensive jihadist literature" along with "two machetes and two daggers," prosecutors said. The women also had instructions on how to turn propane tanks into bombs, the government said.

    I don't miss that about NYC (none / 0) (#15)
    by nycstray on Sat Apr 04, 2015 at 01:28:34 PM EST
    somebody was always planning to bomb something with the help of the FBI and then we were "saved" yet again :P We have much more mundane 'things' going on where I live now . . .

    Your emphasis on the word (4.50 / 2) (#17)
    by Jack E Lope on Mon Apr 06, 2015 at 11:51:10 AM EST
    ...want is misplaced, I think.  The key word may be something...which could be political action, angry blog posting, antisocial behaviour...or might be malleable.

    Yes, they wanted to do something - and their FBI handler spent a couple of years reinforcing their fear, hopelessness, sense of unjust/unfair treatment, desire to defend themselves against violence, etc., and shaping that something into violent response.  

    Of course, the problem is that we don't know how it would have gone without FBI involvement.  We can't be sure about cause and effect - if we wanted to look at this statistically, what would be the control group?  Has the FBI spent years on anybody without convincing them to commit a crime?

    (From the story, it sounds as if the women perceived this as planning & preparing for self defensive action.  I assume the FBI has someone working on Cliven Bundy, and they'll arrest him and cohorts within the next couple of years.)


    shaking my head (none / 0) (#1)
    by The Addams Family on Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 03:16:57 AM EST
    Instead of egging them on, driving them to Home Depot and providing them with materials from AQ literature and bomb making manuals, did it never occur to [the FBI] the hours might be better spent coming up with a plan to get them into counseling, explain they were on a bad path or engage a local Muslim religious leader to explain their beliefs were contrary to the teachings of Islam?

    Maybe all we need to do (none / 0) (#2)
    by Reconstructionist on Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 09:03:01 AM EST
      is give this organization a federal grant to perform "exit counseling" and provide such followers with information about how bad Islamic terrorist groups really are and how they are robbing them of their self-autonomy. Surely, such an approach would have miraculous results. Once all the bad stuff is explained to them and they are taught to understand how their personal problems have made them susceptible to being led astray by bad people, they will reject the bad people.

      We should ignore critics who suggest the approach is merely saying:

     "You are a victim of terrible psychological forces that robbed you of your reason and in order for us to fix you we are going to do it to you again, but we are the good guys and what we do is really good for you."


    It sounds like the only "bad people" (none / 0) (#10)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 10:40:28 PM EST
    they knew was the FBI "Life Coach."  He not only fed their dream - he furnished the tools they needed to turn that dream into society's nightmare.

    The Anarchist's Cookbook?  Who even knew that was still in print?