2 Queens Women Plead Guilty to Terrorism Charges
Two women from Queens, New York, each face up to 20 years in prison after admitting they researched how to build bombs with the intention of conducting a terrorist attack in the United States. Asia Siddiqui, 35, and Noelle Velentzas (pictured), 31, pleaded guilty on August 23 to teaching and distributing information pertaining to the making and use of an explosive, destructive device, and weapon of mass destruction for use in committing a federal crime of violence. Between 2013 and 2015, they studied how to build explosives similar to those used in previous attacks against US targets, including the Boston Marathon bombing, Oklahoma City bombing, and World Trade Center attack in 1993. They learned skills to construct explosives and looked into potential targets with a focus on law enforcement and military sites. Court documents said they discussed their plans with an undercover counterterrorism officer with the New York Police Department, who recorded them saying they were “citizens of the Islamic State.” Authorities seized propane gas tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions, jihadist literature, machetes, and knives from their homes during their arrests in April 2015.
Student Accused of Planning Shooting at North Carolina University Arrested
A student at a college in North Carolina is accused of planning a shooting and keeping guns and ammunition in his dorm room. Paul Steber (pictured), a 19-year-old freshman from Boston, was arrested on August 27 after other students reported he had weapons in his room at High Point University. Campus security seized a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and a double-barrel 12-gauge shotgun, as well as ammunition. Prosecutors said Steber told authorities he studied mass shootings and watched videos of recent incidents to learn what to do and what to avoid. He planned to conduct one by Christmas, having thought about it since December. He is also accused of threatening to kill his roommate and himself if he did not get into a fraternity and the roommate did. Prosecutors noted Steber told authorities he chose to attend a university in North Carolina because it was easier to access guns in the state. Steber is charged with two counts of weapons on campus or other educational property and one count of communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property.
NYC Man Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements Involving Terrorism to FBI
A New York City resident admitted he made false statements in an interview with the FBI about his plans to join ISIS. Fabjan Alameti, 21, pleaded guilty on August 28 to two counts of false statements to a federal officer in a matter involving international terrorism. Alameti, who the FBI investigated beginning in 2018, agreed to speak with an FBI agent when he traveled to Bozeman, Montana, in March. He said that he never discussed traveling overseas to fight for ISIS and did not intend to hurt Americans, including members of the military. Authorities determined those statements were false, as Alameti’s Facebook account included messages with an FBI informant stating he wanted to fight for ISIS abroad and “die a martyr’s death,” according to prosecutors. He discussed targeting US citizens and specifically mentioned a federal building, military recruitment center, synagogue, and gay nightclubs. After learning of the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, Alameti told the informant he “will attack random people to avenge the blood” and that he would buy a gun in Montana. He was arrested at a gun range in Bozeman on April 3. He faces up to eight years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for December 13.