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NYC's alleged ISIS plot a sobering reminder

Court artist's rendering of two women accused of

Court artist's rendering of two women accused of plotting to detonate a bomb in the U.S. Pictured is Noelle Velentzas, on the left in black, and Asia Siddiqui, on the right in green, standing with their attorneys in Brooklyn federal court on April 2, 2015. Credit: Jane Rosenberg

There are people in this city who want to frighten, attack, maim and kill. If our concerns about that are often vague, they were given names and faces yesterday.

Two Queens women -- both U.S. citizens -- were charged with planning to build a bomb they hoped to detonate at an event big enough to make headlines around the world.

Reportedly calling themselves "citizens of the Islamic State," they allegedly plotted about the best places to unleash their homemade hell -- rejecting Herald Square as filled with just "normal people" and instead debating the relative merits of a high-profile event like Boston's marathon versus the packed funeral of an NYPD officer slain in the line of duty.

According to the FBI's complaint, Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, purchased propane tanks, fertilizer and potassium gluconate -- all useful for large explosions. They allegedly acquired the ingredients not via weapons dealers, but in the local hardware store and the neighborhood pharmacy, in the aisles where many of us shop.

Investigations into possible terrorist plots in NYC -- even arrests -- now happen fairly often. Those who have been charged seem to range from deadly serious and on the verge of acting on their plans to some who are utterly incompetent and vague about goals. But these women seem to fall in the middle of that spectrum, as "aspirational" but "closer to operational," a law enforcement source told amNewYork. This plot is unusually unsettling. These are young women, former roommates living in NYC's most diverse borough, who were free to enjoy the goodness this nation offers. Yet, they were obsessed with killing its people.

"She's always been a nice lady, appeared to be a good mother," a neighbor said of Velentzas, who walked her daughter to and from school every day. "She didn't appear to be political."

The charges unveiled by U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn should make us worry. We can't be consumed with fear, but must not forget the threat.