- Post-9/11, the "war on terror" has been a jihad
against Islam, the colonizers v. the colonized, or what Edward Said called
"the familiar (America, Europe, us) and the strange (the Orient,
East, them)." Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is one of its most tragic, aggrieved,
and ravaged victims. Her ordeal continues horrifically.
- Boston Magazine's Katherine Oxment asked: "Who's
afraid of Aafia Siddiqui? She went to MIT and Brandeis, married a (physician,
lived in Boston), cared for her children....raised money for charities....did
other volunteer work, hosted play groups in her apartment, (is) deeply
religious....distribute(d) Korans to inmates in area prisons," and
did nothing out of the ordinary. (She) "was a normal woman living
a normal American life. Until the FBI called her a terrorist....a high-profile
Al Qaeda operative," but we've seen these charges before, and each
time they were bogus. They're egregiously so against Aafia - a woman guilty
only of being Muslim at the wrong time in America or elsewhere if you're
on Washington's target list.
- Against her and others, no evidence exists so prosecutors
invent it. Most (or key parts) is kept classified, unavailable to the
defense, and trials are judicial equivalents of circuses. Witnesses are
enlisted, pressured, coerced, and/or bought off to cooperate. Proceedings
are carefully orchestrated. Due process is effectively denied, and juries
are intimidated to convict the innocent for political advantage.
- The dominant media cooperate. Using information from
Washington Post writer, Douglas Farah, and other sources, writer Lindsey
Worth of FMS, Inc. referred to "the mysterious Aafia Siddiqui....allegedly
Al Qaeda's only female leader" in connecting her to "the Al
Queda diamond operation" in West Africa.
- The Times Online calls Aafia "Al-Qaeda woman,"
and for ABC News she's "Mata Hari" in a lengthy report featuring
unsubstantiated charges against her, including:
- -- possessing detailed radiological, chemical and biological
information, including possessing a liter of cyanide and instructions
for a "dirty bomb;"
- -- more documents for a mass casualty attack;
- -- a list of New York targets, including the Statue of
Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, Wall Street, and the
animal disease center on Plum Island;
- -- terrorist recruiting;
- -- possessing excerpts from "The Anarchist's Arsenal;"
- -- "documents detailing US military assets;"
- -- methods of attack by reconnaissance drones, underwater
bombs and gliders; and
- -- a thumb (or flash) drive packed with emails detailing
"specific cells" and planned attacks to carry out.
- According to the FBI, she is, or was when captured, a
potential "treasure trove" of information on terrorist supporters,
sympathizers or sleepers in America and overseas. CIA officer John Kiriakou
said she's "the most significant capture in five years," and
an unnamed counterterrorism official called her "a very dangerous
person, no doubt about it."
- For Kiriakou, she's a "radical" involved in
planning "a wide variety of different operations (perhaps with WMDs),"
including a "possible attempt on the life of the President."
Unnamed sources from three federal agencies accused her of an "ill
conceived" and perhaps amateurish plot to "kill all living US
presidents," including Jimmy Carter by poisoning.
- By marriage to his nephew, she's also reputedly linked
to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the "principal architect of the 9/11 attacks,"
according to the 9/11 Commission. He reportedly "gave her up"
after capture on March 1, 2003, and shortly thereafter she and her children
- The DOJ also connects her to Adnan El Shukrijumah, another
suspected Al Qaeda member "involved in terrorist planning with senior
Al Qaeda leaders overseas and across America," according to John
- Aafia's friends and family deny all charges. They call
her an innocent victim of US persecution, and an especially egregious
one for being ravaged in detention. One supporter (Abu Sabaya) said this
about the woman he knew:
- "I want you to come to know of the concern and dedication
that this woman had for Islam as described by those who knew her - a
dedication that was manifested by way of actions that were very simple
and easy, yet seldom carried out by those who are able.
- Those who knew Aafia recall that she was a very small,
quiet, polite, and shy woman who was barely noticeable in a gathering.
However....she would say what (was) needed" when necessary.
- While at MIT, she organized drives to deliver Korans
and other Islamic literature to Muslims in local prisons. She was also
dedicated to Islam on campus where fellow students described her as soft-spoken,
studious, religious, but not extremist or fundamentalist. She wrote three
instructional guides on the faith. More as well on how to run a daw'ah
table to provide religious information and training for da'iyas (callers
to Islam). She wrote:
- "Imagine our humble, but sincere daw'ah effort turning
into a major daw'ah movement in this country! Just imagine it! And us,
reaping the reward of everyone who accepts Islam throught this movement
(for) years to come. Think and plan big. May Allah give this strength
and sincerity to us so that our humble effort continues and expands until
America becomes a Muslim land."
- Aafia taught local Muslim children on Sundays, but her
greatest passion was to help oppressed Muslims worldwide. She spoke publicly,
sent emails, gave slideshow presentations, and raised donations while
a student and caring for three young children at home.
- Because of her faith, activism, and passion for the oppressed,
it's little wonder she was targeted and why Assistant US Attorney Christopher
LaVigne called her "a high security risk" despite no evidence
to prove it.
- Her Background and What Happened
- Aafia is a Pakistani national with degrees from MIT and
a doctorate in neurocognitive science from Brandeis. Despite false media
reports, she's not a microbiologist, geneticist or neurologist. Nor did
her training provide expertise for WMD terrorism. As her lawyer, Elaine
Whitfeld Sharp, explains:
- The prosecution claimed "that Aafia was involved
in biochemical warfare. She wasn't taking brain cells and testing how
they reacted to gases. But there's all this news in the media about the
changing face of Al Qaeda, the neurobiology scare, and now we've got this
MIT graduate with a Brandeis Ph.D. who's cooking up all these viruses."
- Boston Magazine writer Katherine Ozment explained what
Aafia "was actually cooking up" - the simple concept that people
learn by imitation. To study it, "she devised a computer program
and used adult volunteers, who came to her office and watched various
objects move randomly across the screen, then reproduced what they recalled.
The point was to see how well they retained the information having seen
in on the screen."
- Brandeis professor of cognitive science Paul DiZio laughed
about how this could apply to terrorism. "I can't see how it can
be applied to anything. It's not applied work. It didn't have a medical
aspect to it. And, as a computer expert, she was competent. But you know,
calling her a mastermind or something (is ludicrous) - I never saw any
- She and her husband (a medical resident at the time at
Brigham and Women's Hospital) used their apartment for a 1999 nonprofit
organization they began called the Institute of Islamic Research and
Teaching. It had nothing to do with terrorism. According to the neighborhood
Mosque's Imam, Abdullah Faruuq: "What I know of (Aafia) is that she
was living here in America, and her organization was for sharing Islamic
information with the American people."
- Faruuq was impressed with her dedication. "Aafia
was an American girl and a good sister." She also wanted her husband
to use his medical skills to help the less fortunate. Despite her devout
faith, "there was nothing radical about Siddiqui. She just seemed
like a very kind person."
- She's also a mother of three, and a victim of extreme
viciousness in detention. According to her mother, Ismet, she "left
the family home in Gulshan-e-lqbal in a taxi on March 30 to catch a flight
for Rawalpindi, but never reached the airport." Inside sources claim
she was picked up by intelligence agents en route, and initial reports
suggest then handed over to the FBI.
- She was missing for over a year when the agency posted
her photographs on its web site. Shortly afterward, a story was leaked
about her involvement in the 2001 Liberian diamond trade with her as
an Al Qaeda operative. The family's attorney, Elaine Whitfield Sharp,
called the allegation a blessing in disguise because it placed Aafia in
Liberia at a specific time when she can prove she was in Boston that week.
- Aafia's mother says that only days after her daughter's
disappearance a man on motorcycle came to her family home and warned
her to say nothing about what happened if she wanted to see Aafia and
her grandchildren again. She hasn't since, and according to the Pakistani
Urdu press, the family was picked up by local authorities and taken into
custody. A government interior ministry spokesman and two unnamed US officials
confirmed the report in the press. They then retracted their statements,
but local Chicago NBC news (based on a Press Trust of India account) reported
that Aafia was being interrogated by US intelligence officials.
- At the time, the FBI website stated: "Although the
FBI has no information indicating this individual is connected to specific
terrorist activities, the FBI would like to locate and question this
individual." The agency knew full well what happened - that Aafia
was in secret detention, that her horrific ordeal had begun, and that
they and other US authorities were involved.
- A Brief Timeline of Affia's Case
- -- March 18, 2003: the FBI issues an alert requesting
information about Aafia;
- -- March 29: UPI reports that the FBI believes Aafia
may be an Al Qaeda "fixer," transferring money to support "terrorist"
- -- March 30: Aafia disappears en route to the airport
for a flight to Rawalpindi;
- -- April 3: CNN reports that Al Qaeda figure Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed (arrested March 1) mentioned Aafia during interrogation; Pakistani
authorities deny any knowledge of her whereabouts;
- -- April 4: the FBI denies that it captured and is detaining
- -- May 26: John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller
cite reports that Al Queda plans an attack on the US in the summer or
fall; Aafia is named as an Al Qaeda "operative and facilitator"
and is one of seven Al Qaeda members being sought;
- -- May 28, 2004: Pakistan's Interior Ministry confirms
that Aafia was turned over to US authorities in 2003 after it was unable
to establish any links she may have had with Al Qaeda;
- -- A 2006 Amnesty International report includes Aafia
as one of many of the "disappeared" in the "war on terror;"
- -- A 2007 Ghost Prisoner Human Rights Watch report said
that Aafia "may have once been held" in secret CIA detention;
- -- A February 2008 Asian Human Rights Commission report
said Aafia was brought to Karachi and severely tortured to secure her
compliance as a government witness against Khalid Shiekh Mohammed;
- -- July 7, 2008: UK journalist Yvonne Ridley identifies
Aafia as "Prisoner 650" at the US Bagram, Afghanistan torture-prison;
- -- July 11: US Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green denies that
any women are being held at Bagram;
- -- July 31: the FBI tells Aafia's brother that she's
in US custody;
- -- August 4: a DOJ press release says that Afghanistan
National Police arrested Aafia in Ghazni on July 17 and that she was wounded
the next day while trying to shoot US Army personnel;
- -- August 6: US Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis orders
Aafia be held without bail; her court-appointed lawyer, Elizabeth Fink,
says charges against her are "absurd;" a bail hearing was set
for August 11 and another for August 18 to determine if she should be
- -- August 12: the Washington Pakistani embassy formally
requests that Aafia be repatriated to Pakistan;
- -- August 13: the US military in Afghanistan denies it
ever held Aafia in detention and that an unnamed female prisoner was someone
- -- September 12: according to a report in MIT's The Tech,
court documents released today indicate that Aafia "was diagnosed
with chronic depressive type psychosis;"
- -- September 23: Judge Richard Berman enters a "not
guilty" plea on behalf of Aafia; she refuses to come to court because
doing so requires she be strip-searched; he sets December 17 as the next
hearing date to determine her fitness to stand trial; he also sets March
9, 2009 as a tentative trial date;
- -- September 29: World Net Daily reports that for the
"first time since 9/11, counterterrorism field agents have been authorized
to spy on young Muslim men and women - including American citizens -
who have traveled to Pakistan without any specific evidence (suggesting)
- -- October 2: Aafia is moved to the Carswell Federal
Medical Center, Fort Worth, TX for psychiatric evaluation; in vain, her
lawyer pleaded that she not be sent because she urgently needs medical
- -- October 6: Pakistani senators Mushahid Hussain Syed,
Sadia Abbasi Mehmood, and SM Zafar met with Aafia; Faqir Saeed of the
Pakistani embassy as well; she tells them of her ordeal - that she was
abducted in 2003, given an injection, found herself in a cell, and was
forced to sign papers and confess to things she didn't do; her children's
lives were threatened and she was abused grievously;
- -- November 17: Judge Richard Berman indicates that a
psychiatric evaluation indicates that Aafia is "not competent to
proceed as a result of her mental disease, which renders her unable to
understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her;"
- -- December 17: the next scheduled date (in New York
District Court) to determine if Aafia is fit to stand trial;
- -- March 9, 2009: the tentative date for Aafia's trial
- The US Bagram, Afghanistan Torture-Prison
- After her abduction, Aafia disappeared into Bagram hell
and was known only as "Prisoner 650." Then later, by released
prisoners, as the "Gray Lady of Bagram" because of her screams
they heard for years.
- At one time, Bagram (north of Kabul at the US air base)
held twice as many prisoners as Guantanamo and likely still holds hundreds.
They're crammed into wire cages, routinely tortured, forced to sleep
on floor mats, and have buckets for latrines, or at least did until recently.
Many prisoners are held secretly, have been there for years, have no access
to lawyers, or any knowledge of the allegations against them. Most, perhaps
all, are innocent victims and guilty only of being Muslims at the wrong
time in the wrong place.
- What's known about Bagram comes from released or transfered
prisoners who got access to counsel. In early 2008, The New York Times
also reported that the International Committee of the Red Cross filed
a confidential complaint with US authorities charging that its detainees
were held incommunicado for weeks or months in isolation cells and subjected
to cruel treatment (torture) in violation of international law.
- In February 2005, The London Guardian reported that a
prisoner named Mustafa was blindfolded, handcuffed, gagged, and forced
to bend down over a table by three US soldiers. They then "forcibly
rammed a stick up my rectum....I could not stop screaming when this happened."
- Another case involved Wesam Abdulrahman Ahmed Al Deemawi.
For over a 40 days, he was threatened with dogs, stripped and photographed
"in shameful and obscene positions," placed in a cage with a
hook and hanging rope, and hung on it blindfolded for two days. Both men
were never charged and were later released.
- Other prisoners were beaten, chained, hung from the ceiling
by their wrists, and subjected to numerous other tortures and indignities
- for months or years. In some cases so horrifically they died. Aafia
and other women were (and still are) at Bagram and other US torture- prisons
(including torture-ships at sea), according to British journalist Yvonne
Ridley: "There are many Muslim women in the captivity of American
forces and if (people remain) silent, (they'll) lose their sisters forever."
Some are treated even worse than Aafia.
- Ridley wrote about Bagram's "Prisoner 650"
and her ordeal of torture and repeatedly being raped for over four years.
"The cries of (this) helpless woman echoed (with such torment) in
the jail that (it) prompted prisoners to go on hunger strike." Ridley
called her a "gray lady (because) she (was) almost a ghost, a spectre
whose cries and screams continue to haunt those who heard her. This would
never happen to a Western woman." It did to Aafia, other Muslim women
as well, and their ordeal continues horrifically.
- US and International Law on Prisoners of War and Enforced
- US and international law are clear and unequivocal on
prisoner detentions and their treatment. America under George Bush defiles
it, and, given the rogue team he's assembled, the Obama administration
(with or without Guantanamo) promises little or no change. These practices
are grievous crimes of war and against humanity and should never be tolerated
against anyone for any reason. Yet they persist.
- The US War Crimes Act (1996) defines these offenses as
grave breaches under the Geneva Conventions (1949) and violations of its
Common Article 3. It states in part:
- ...."the following acts are prohibited at any time
and in any place....:
- -- violence to life and person (including) murder, mutilation,
cruel treatment and torture;
- -- ....humiliating and degrading treatment;"
- -- sentencing or executing detainees "without previous
judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the
judicial guarantees....recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples;"
- -- assuring wounded and sick are (properly) cared for.
- The US Army Field Manual 27-10 is also explicit on the
rule of law. It incorporates the Nuremberg Principles prohibiting crimes
against humanity, and specifically obligates soldiers to disobey illegal
orders or be subject to prosecution under international law. Paragraph
498 states that any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime
under international law bears responsibility and may be punished. Paragraph
499 defines a "war crime." Paragraph 509 denies the defense
of superior orders in the commission of a crime, and paragraph 510 denies
the defense of an "act of state."
- Under Article VI of the Constitution (the supremacy clause),
international law is part of domestic law, and US presidents take an
oath under Article II, Section 1, Clause 7 to "preserve, protect
and defend the Constitution...." Further, Article II, Section 3 requires
the president to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully exercised."
- International human rights law also strictly prohibits
secret detentions. Under Principle 6 of the (May 1989) UN Principles on
the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary
and Summary Executions:
- "Governments shall ensure that persons deprived
of their liberty are (to be) held in officially recognised places of custody,
and that accurate information on their custody and whereabouts, including
transfers, is made promptly available to their relatives and lawyers or
other persons of confidence."
- US and international laws leave no ambiguity on torture
or its seriousness when practiced. The (1949) Third Geneva Convention's
Article 13 (on the Treatment of Prisoners of War) states:
- Detainees "must at all times be humanely treated.
Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously
endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited....(these
persons) must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of
violence or intimidation...."
- Third Geneva also prohibits physical or mental torture,
all other forms of coercion, collective punishment, corporal punishments,
and any type of violence. These acts are "war crimes." Various
other US and international laws also prohibit them, yet they're official
US policy, so far with impunity.
- In December 1992, the UN General Assembly passed the
Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
It states that:
- "any act of enforced disappearance is an offence
to human dignity." It "places the persons subjected thereto
outside the protection of the law and inflicts severe suffering on them
and their families. It constitutes a violation of the rules of international
law guaranteeing, inter alia (among other things), the right to recognition
as a person before the law, the right to liberty and security of the person,
and the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment....No state shall practice, permit
or tolerate enforced disappearances" and must terminate any such
acts "in any territory under its jurisdiction." Such practices
are crimes of war and against humanity.
- In 2005, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice
(CHR&GJ, New York University School of Law) published a report titled:
"Fate and Whereabouts Unknown: Detainees in the "War on Terror."
It presented "factual summaries of (28) individuals who may be in
secret (US) detention sites" and included known information about
Aafia at the time.
- CHR&GJ said enforced disappearances happen "when
individuals are deprived of their liberty by state agents and the state
fails to provide information about their fate or whereabouts; through
these actions, detainees are placed outside the protection of law."
- "Disappearances" include these practices:
- -- individuals (often unidentified) held in secret US-run
or controlled "black sites;"
- -- individuals in foreign-based sites under US control
- -- individuals "extraordinarily renditioned"
to "black" or other sites; and
- -- individuals held in conflict areas and not properly
registered and/or identified, such as CIA "ghost prisoners"
on US military facilities like at Bagram.
- United States of America v. Aafia Siddiqui
- On September 2, the Justice Department (DOJ) indicted
Aafia "for attempting to kill United States Nationals in Afghanistan
and Six Additional Charges." On September 4, she was arraigned before
Judge Richard Berman in US District Court for the Southern District of
- Michael Garcia, US Attorney for the Southern District
of New York, stated (in a September 2 press release) that on July 18,
2008, "a team of United States servicemen and law enforcement officers,
and others assisting them, attempted to interview Aafia Siddiqui in Ghazni,
Afghanistan, where she had been detained by local police the day before....unbeknownst
to the United States interview team, unsecured, behind a curtain -- Siddiqui
obtained one of the United States Army officer's M-4 rifles and attempted
to fire it, and did fire it, at another United States Army officer and
other members of the United States interview team....
- Siddiqui then assaulted one of the United States Army
interpreters, as he attempted to obtain the M-4 rifle from her. Siddiqui
subsequently assaulted one of the FBI agents and one of the United States
Army officers, as they attempted to subdue her."
- Garcia said nothing about years of torture and rape at
Bargram or that this frail, weakened, 110 pound woman was confronted by
three US Army officers, two FBI agents, and two Army interpreters, yet
inexplicably managed to assault three of them, get one of their rifles,
open fire at close range, hit no one, and only she was severely wounded.
As her attorney put it:
- "Picture this woman who is very tiny (and extremely
frail and weakened from her ordeal), and ask yourself how she engaged
in armed conflict....with six (armed and well-trained) military men,
how did this happen? And how did she get shot? I think you can answer
that, can't you (and question the absurdity of DOJ's charges against her)?
- Garcia outlined, but didn't indict, on the above-listed
allegations about specific "cells," handwritten notes about
a "mass casualty attack," constructing "dirty bombs,"
and using various devices and means to deliver them. It was also alleged
that before 9/11 she travelled to Liberia where she was involved in illegal
diamond trading to support Al Qaeda and then opened a Baltimore post office
box for one of its members. None of these claims are credible or showed
up in her indictment.
- Count One
- Attempted Murder of United States Nationals by obtaining
a US Army Officer's M-4 rifle and attempting to fire and firing it at
him, two other US Interview Team members, and repeatedly stating her
intent and desire to kill Americans.
- Count Two
- Attempted Murder of United States Officers and Employees
in the same manner while they were engaged in and on account of the performance
of their official duties.
- Count Three
- Armed Assault of United States Officers and Employees
in the same manner.
- Count Four
- Discharge of A Firearm During (a) Crime of Violence as
- Count Five
- Assault of United States Officers and Employees as described
- Count Six
- (Further charges of) Assault of United States Officers
and Employees as described above.
- Count Seven
- (More charges of) Assault of United States Officers and
Employees as described above.
- Aafia's Deteriorating Health
- In response to British MP Lord Nazir's letter on Aafia's
whereabouts, US authorities confirmed that she's incarcerated at Carswell
Federal Medical Center, Fort Worth, TX (pursuant to an October 1, 2008
US District Court, NY judicial directive) where she's undergoing psychiatric
evaluation, but not getting desperately needed medical attention.
- Nazir earlier raised questions about her detention and
said "she (was) physically tortured and continuously raped by the
officers at the (Bagram) prison" - for over four years. He now wants
her immediately released and repatriated to Pakistan after it was learned
she's held on dubious charges plus all the horrific treatment she endured
- yet is guilty of nothing.
- Aafia is in deplorable condition and, according to Judge
Berman, not in a correct state of mind to stand trial. On August 7, 2008,
Iqbal Haider, Co-chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
expressed concern about her. He called it shocking and of grave concern
that pictures of her show a beat-up frail and helpless woman, the effects
of years of torture, abuse, and continuous rape. There are dark circles
under her eyes, a badly repaired broken nose, "made up" teeth
and crumbled lips, and overall "a picture of a severely dehydrated,
sick person almost as if on the death bed. It shows the inhumane brutality
of an apparently civilised nation by the administration of a country
which claims to be much civilised."
- According to HRCP and Aafia's family, her physical condition
is deplorable, and she badly needs immediate medical treatment outside
the Carswell prison where it's not given. "Her wound was oozing
blood," and her clothes were soaked in it. Earlier in custody, one
of her kidneys was removed, yet her abdominal pain persists. She has
large stitches down her torso from the surgery, negligently done, and
may be suffering from internal bleeding. Her teeth were removed. Her nose
was broken and improperly reset. Her gunshot wound was incompetently dressed,
and her overall condition is dire and life-threatening.
- This poor woman was savaged by a criminal state operating
outside the law for political advantage. Her outrageous treatment continues.
Her son, Ahmed (a US citizen), is being detained in Afghanistan, but the
whereabouts of her other two children is unknown.
- A Final Comment
- Post-9/11, the Bush administration:
- -- declared permanent war without cause;