JAMAICA, Queens (PIX11) - When a young, Queens mom and her former, female roommate were picked up by the FBI Thursday, agents found a trove of evidence indicating an interest in bomb-making in both their homes in Jamaica. The feds also had an undercover working with them, who revealed the women were knew their terrorism history pretty well.
28 year old Noelle Velentzas, who lived on Inwood Street near 120th Avenue in Jamaica, had shown a photo of Ramzi Yousef—mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing—to the undercover, according to the federal complaint. It was Yousef who put together a team that filled a Ryder rental truck with fertilizer and detonators and placed the vehicle in the underground, parking garage at World Trade Center #1. The truck exploded on February 26, 1993, and killed six people who were close by. But the bomb failed to bring down the Twin Towers, the intention in that first try. More than eight years later, the towers did come down, when jets were used as bombs to crash into both skyscrapers.
“We, as Americans, have to fight them,” said a Queens neighbor of Velentzas, when PIX 11 visited Inwood Street on Friday. “We can’t leave them alone. They’re all over,” he said.
FBI investigators said they found detailed notes on bomb-making in the suspects’ homes—including the house where 31 year old Asia Siddiqui lived on 84th Road, near 164th Street in Jamaica.
There was evidence the two women had gone shopping for pipes and copper wiring. They apparently had paid visits to Home Depot for supplies.
Noelle Velentzas, who has a young daughter, used to watch violent jihadist videos and proclaimed a loyalty to the terror state, ISIS—according to the feds.
But it was Asia Siddiqui who appeared to have the closest connection to a longer-established terror organization, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP.
Siddiqui was friends with the late Samir Khan, who once lived in Queens and published the English-language “Inspire” magazine---meant to draw more supporters to the Al Qaeda cause.
Khan was killed on September 30, 2011 by a CIA drone. He was traveling, at the time, in eastern Yemen with the American-born leader of AQAP—Anwar al-Awlaki, who was also killed by the drone.
Their deaths apparently did little to dim Siddiqui’s enthusiasm for the jihadist cause.
The undercover said the women discussed the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013 that killed several people—and maimed many others—at the finish line.
Pressure cooker bombs were used in those attacks by the Tsarvaev brothers.
A pressure cooker was found at one of the women’s homes.
Siddiqui had bought three or four propane gas cans and was storing them at her house.
The feds also found two machetes, when they seized evidence.
This reminded PIX 11 of the hatchet wielded by a “lone wolf” radical last October, as he attacked four, NYPD officers on Jamaica Avenue in Queens.
The officers survived the assault launched by Zale Thompson, but one suffered head injuries.
The federal arrests of Siddiqui and Velentzas came two days after PIX 11 News interviewed the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Counter-Terrorism, John Miller.
Miller recently returned from a mission to Paris, where he discussed the terror shootings at Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher market, during a three-day terror spree in Paris.
Before Thursday’s arrests, he was already talking about “known wolves” versus “lone wolves” in the continuing fight against terrorism.
“What you’re seeing now is the ‘democratization’ of terrorism,” Miller said Tuesday. “They’re ‘crowd-sourcing’ it, through magazines and Internet postings.”
“They’re saying, ‘As long as you believe the narrative, anyone can be a terrorist.’”