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Queens woman sentenced to 15 years for U.S. bomb plot

Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A federal judge has sentenced a Queens woman to 15 years in prison for her role in a plot to build and detonate a bomb in the United States, the Justice Department said.

Asia Siddiqui, 35, was sentenced Thursday in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn for her role in a plot to build a bomb from propane tanks to be used in an Islamic State-inspired attack on U.S. soil, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

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Siddiqui was arrested in April 2015 along with her roommate, Noelle Velentzas, 32, following a lengthy FBI investigation. The women pleaded guilty in August to a charge of teaching or distributing information about the making and use of an explosive device or weapon of mass destruction.

"Inspired by radical Islam, Siddiqui and her co-defendant researched and taught each other how to construct bombs to be used on American soil against law enforcement and military targets," said Assistant General for National Security John C. Demers.

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Authorities said the pair had planned from 2013 to the time of their arrest to build a bomb and they taught one another chemistry and electrical skills in order to construct the explosive device. They also shopped for and acquired materials needed for the bomb and discussed devices used in previous terrorist bombings such as those used during the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 and the 1993 World Trade Center attack, among others.

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At the time of the women's arrest, officers seized propane tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions, jihadist literature, machetes and several knives from their residence.

"Lives were saved when the defendants' plot to detonate a bomb in a terrorist attack was thwarted by the tireless efforts of law enforcement," said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York.

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According to the Department of Justice, "Siddiqui's interest in violent terrorist-related activities" was reflected in writings she submitted to "a radical jihadist magazine" edited by Samir Khan, a prominent al-Qaeda figure who was killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

"Today's sentencing is a strong and timely reminder that the [New York Police Department] and its partners in law enforcement will never stop pursuing those who, if undetected, would plan and execute acts of terrorism in the United States," said NYPD Commissioner Dermot F. Shea.

Velentzas is still awaiting sentencing, the attorney's office said.

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