2 NYC women accused of domestic bomb plot

Last Updated Apr 2, 2015 8:32 PM EDT

NEW YORK -- Two New York City women were arrested Thursday on charges they were plotting to wage violent jihad by building a homemade bomb and using it for Boston Marathon-type terror attack, prosecutors said.

One of the women, 28-year-old Noelle Velentzas, had been "obsessed with pressure cookers since the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013" and made jokes alluding to explosives after receiving one as a gift, according to a criminal complaint.

The criminal complaint, unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, says in a conversation with an undercover investigator about the women's willingness to fight, Velentzas pulled a knife and asked, "Why can't we be bad b-----s?"

The complaint names Velentzas and her former roommate, Asia Siddiqui, 31, as the targets of an undercover investigation into a homegrown terror plot.

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Noelle Velentzas, left, and Asia Siddiqui appear in federal court after being arrested for an alleged conspiracy to build a bomb and wage a terrorist attack in the United States, according to a federal criminal complaint, on Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Brooklyn, New York.
REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

The women, both from Queens, were held without bail after a brief court appearance where they spoke only to say they understood the charges against them. Velentzas wore a hijab and a dark dress, and Siddiqui wore a green T-shirt with a long-sleeved black shirt underneath and a dark long skirt.

"My client will enter a plea of not guilty, if and when there is an indictment. I know it's a serious case, but we're going to fight it out in court," said Siddiqui's lawyer, Thomas Dunn. Velentzas' attorney had no comment.

The women repeatedly expressed support for violent jihad during conversations with an undercover investigator wearing a wire, according to the complaint.

John Miller, the head of the New York Police Department's counterterrorism operation, said the public was never in danger.

Miller said there is evidence the women looked at Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) propaganda on the Internet. But authorities say it didn't appear they had direct contact with the group.

In 2009, Siddiqui wrote a poem in a magazine published by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that declared there is "no excuse to sit back and wait -- for the skies rain martyrdom," investigators wrote in court papers.

Velentzas called Osama bin Laden one of her heroes, and said she and Siddiqui were "citizens of the Islamic State," the documents said.

Since 2014, the pair plotted to build an explosive device for use in a terrorist attack on American soil, the complaint says.

The women "researched and acquired some of the components of a car bomb, like the one used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; a fertilizer bomb, like the one used in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City; and a pressure cooker bomb, like the one used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing," authorities wrote.

At the time of her arrest, Siddiqui was "in possession of multiple propane gas tanks, as well as instructions for how to transform propane tanks into explosive devices," the complaint says.

CBS News' Paula Reid reports that according to court documents, Velentzas was Facebook friends with Tairod Pugh, a U.S. Air Force veteran accused of scheming to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

Pugh, 47, had recently been fired from his job as an airplane mechanic. Prosecutors said he traveled from Egypt to Turkey to ultimately cross the border but was turned away. His attorney has said he would plead not guilty.

In March, three other men pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn federal court to terrorism charges in a plot to travel from New York to Syria via Turkey to join the Islamic State group.

Last month, federal prosecutors said an Illinois Army National Guard soldier vowed to bring "the flames of war to the heart" of America if he was unable to get to the Middle East to join ISIS and his cousin bragged he could kill up to 150 people in a terrorist attack in the U.S.