- On February 3, a Department of Justice press release
headlined "Aafia Siddiqui Found Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court
of Attempting to Murder US Nationals in Afghanistan and Six Additional
- At her scheduled May 6 sentencing, she "faces a
maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of the attempted murder
and armed assault charges; life in prison on the firearms charge; and eight
years in prison on each of the remaining assault charges. SIDDIQUI faces
a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison on the firearms charge."
- On February 3, New York Times writer CJ Hughes headlined:
"Pakistani Scientist Found Guilty of Shootings," convicting her
on all seven counts, including attempted murder - "capping a trial
that drew notice for its terrorist implications as well as its theatrics,"
but omitting convincing evidence of Siddiqui's innocence. Instead, Hughes
said she was arrested with "instructions (in her purse) on making
explosives and a list of New York landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty,
the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building." Her defense team
acknowledged their existence, but Siddiqui denied packing them or knowing
of their origin. She later suggested she copied them from a magazine, planned
no terrorist acts, nor did her indictment claim them.
- Hughes also said she "raised suspicions when she
and her three children vanished in Pakistan in 2003." She didn't vanish.
Her mother said she "left the family home in Gulshan-e-lqbal in a
taxi on March 30, 2003 to catch a flight for Rawalpindi, but never reached
the airport." Pakistani intelligence agents abducted her, turned her
over to US authorities, after which her long ordeal of secret imprisonment,
interrogations, and years of brutalizing torture began, even though she
- Her son Mohammed was later released on condition he say
nothing. Her other two children, Maryam and Suleman, disappeared and may
have been killed.
- In May 2004, Pakistan's Interior Minister confirmed she
was turned over to US authorities in 2003 after no link between her and
Al Qaeda was established. In 2006, Amnesty International called her one
of many of the "disappeared" in America's "war on terror."
In 2007, a Ghost Prisoner Human Rights Watch report suggested she was held
in secret CIA detention.
- In February 2008, the Asian Human Rights Commission said
she was brought to Karachi and severely tortured to secure her compliance
as a government witness against Khalid Shiekh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11
mastermind, related to Siddiqui through marriage to his nephew. He reportedly
"gave her up" after capture on March 1, 2003, after which she
and her children disappeared.
- The charges were bogus and outrageous. Yet, on September
2, 2008, the Justice Department (DOJ) indicted her "on charges related
to her attempted murder and assault of United States nationals and officers
and employees." According to Michael Garcia, US Attorney for the Southern
District of New York (in his same day press release):
- 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, Aghanistan, 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'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 assaualted 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."
- Left unexplained was how this frail, weak, 110-pound
woman, confronted by three US Army officers, two FBI agents, and two Army
interpreters, 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
- According to her attorney, Elaine Whitfield Sharp:
- "how did this happen? And how did she get shot?
I think you can answer that, can't you (and question the outrageous charges
- During proceedings, another defense lawyer, Linda Moreno,
said no forensic evidence proved the rifle Siddiqui allegedly used had
been fired since no bullets, shell casings, or bullet debris were recovered
and no bullet holes detected.
- Garcia didn't explain, nor about her abduction, torture
and repeated raping at Bagram prison, Afghanistan where, as Prisoner 650,
she was called the "Gray Lady of Bagram" because her screams
were heard for years. Nor did he discuss her physical and emotional destruction.
She was a pawn in America's "war on terror," used, abused, now
convicted, and facing life in prison when sentenced, a victim of gross
- Some Background
- A Pakistani national, Siddiqui is deeply religious, attended
MIT and Brandeis University where she earned a doctorate in neurocognitive
science, married a Boston physician, raised money for charities, did volunteer
work, distributed Korans to inmates in area prisons, and did nothing out
of the ordinary. Yet the UK Times Online called her "Al-Qaeda woman."
For ABC News, she was "Mata Hari," and the Justice Department
targeted her as a terrorist, a woman guilty only of being Muslim in America
at the wrong time.
- When seized, the FBI said she was a potential "treasure
trove" of information on terrorist suspects, sympathizers, or sleepers
in America and overseas. CIA officer John Kiriakou called her "the
most significant capture in five years," and an unnamed counterterrorism
official said she's "a very dangerous person, no doubt about it."
FBI Director Robert Mueller said she's "an Al Qaeda operative and
facilitator." He and the others lied.
- Those who knew her recalled she was very small, quiet,
polite, and shy, barely noticeable in a gathering. However, she'd say what
was needed when necessary. Her fellow students described her as soft-spoken,
studious, religious, but not extremist or fundamentalist. She taught Muslim
children on Sundays, and was dedicated to helping oppressed Muslims worldwide.
She spoke publicly, sent emails, gave slideshow presentations, and raised
donations as part of her faith, activism, and sincerity. Yet she was targeted
as "a high security risk" despite no evidence then or now to
- Siddiqui is innocent of all charges, yet the DOJ claimed
she was involved in biochemical warfare. In fact, she devised a computer
program, enlisted adult volunteers to watch various objects move randomly
across the screen, then reproduce what they recalled. The idea was to learn
how well they retained information after viewing it on a computer. It had
nothing to do with terrorism, biochemical warfare, or blowing up New York
targets, charges never appearing in her indictment.
- Siddiqui's Trial and Conviction
- Against her lawyers' advice, she spoke publicly for the
first time, despite the risk and her frail condition. She explained her
academic work, her post-doctorate teaching, her interests that included
studying the capabilities of dyslexic and other impaired children, then
recounted her ordeal.
- After being abducted, she agonized over the fate of her
children. In US custody, the relevant incident leading to her indictment
went as follows:
- -- at one point, she was tied down;
- -- then untied;
- -- left behind a curtain;
- -- peaked through it; and
- -- an American soldier shot her in the stomach;
- -- another in her side;
- -- then violently threw her to the floor unconscious.
- She vaguely remembered being on a stretcher, placed in
a helicopter, and getting a blood transfusion. She emphatically denied
seizing and firing a weapon.
- Under cross-examination, she said she was given the bag
with incriminating documents, didn't know its contents or whether handwriting
on them was hers. She explained her repeated torture at Bagram, the effects
of the strong medications given her, and at one point said, "If you
were in a secret prison, or your children were tortured," after which
she was forcibly removed from court and the proceedings continued without
- According to media reports, these revelations were "outbursts."
On January 25, New York Times writer CJ Hughes reported numerous "disruptions....plagu(ing)
the trial. Monday (January 25) was hardly an exception. The defendant was
ejected from (court) - not once, but twice (for) loudly proclaiming her
innocence." On January 19, she "had several outbursts in previous
court appearances, raising questions about her competency to stand trial."
- On February 4, AP writer Tom Hays said "True to
form, Aafia Siddiqui did not go quietly," called her comments "combative,"
then claimed the prosecution presented "compelling testimony."
- On February 5, the Islamophobic frontpagemag.com headlined
"How a 'Nice American Girl' Became a Jihadist," saying "veiled
Muslim women can be very aggressive, murderously so."
- On February 3, the New York Daily News headlined, "Lady
Al Qaeda Aafia Siddiqui convicted of attempted murder." Writer Alison
Gendar accepted DOJ's charges as fact and added some of her own, saying:
- "She grabbed a rifle at an 'Afghan police station'
(she was at Bagram) and started shooting at the Americans sent to grill
her. She was shot by the soldier whose weapon she swiped. (In 2008, she
was) caught in 'Afghanistan' with '2 pounds of poisonous chemicals.' (During
the trial), she disrupted the proceedings several times with 'strange outbursts.'
- An August 22, 2008 Fox News report said "emails
obtained by FOXNews.com show messages sent by Siddiqui (during her time
at MIT) soliciting money for Al-Kifah Refugee Center - a known Al Queda
charitable front tied to Usama bin Laden and the 1993 World Trade Center
- After a three week trial and two days of deliberation,
a federal jury of eight women and four men convicted her on all charges,
including attempted murder, armed assault, discharging a firearm during
a violent crime, and assaulting US officers and employees. As a result,
she potentially faces life in prison at her May 6 sentencing. It's not
confirmed, but her lawyers may appeal given the bogus charges, long detention,
and brutalizing torture, leaving her a shell of her former self, so physically
and emotionally shattered she was in no condition to stand trial.
- After the verdict, aljazeera.net headlined "US verdict
sparks Pakistan protests," saying thousands in several cities rallied
in her defense. Her relatives spoke publicly condemning the decision, her
sister Fauzia saying "we're proud to be related to her. America's
justice system, the establishment, the war on terror, the fraud of the
war on terror, all of those things have shown their own ugly faces."
- Her mother, Ismat said "I did not expect anything
better from an American court. We were ready for the shock and will continue
our struggle to get her released." Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman,
Abdul Basit, said the government would try "to get her back to Pakistan
and we would do everything possible and we'll apply all possible tools
in this regard."
- Al Jazeera's Islamabad correspondent, Kamal Hyder, explained
the public disappointment "for failing to find a diplomatic way out
and getting (her) back home, because they feel she was innocent."
She was missing for five years like "many hundreds of (others who've)
disappeared from Pakistan - still not accounted for - and now that Dr.
Aafia's case has come up, that's likely to be a rallying point for the
- The UK-based Cageprisoners spokesman, Asim Qureshi, said
"The case of Aafia Siddiqui carries great significance in terms of
the ability of the Obama administration to administer justice. Already
we have seen a blanket refusal to look at the facts of her detention prior
to 2008. This verdict will only confirm what many already believe, that
it is impossible for Muslim terrorism suspects to receive a fair trial
in the US."
- Defense lawyer Elaine Whitfield Sharp called the verdict
unjust, in her opinion "based on fear....not fact," and the result
is the continued ordeal of an innocent woman facing a potential life sentence.
- Carefully orchestrated, the trial proceeded like numerous
others, targeting innocent victims because of their faith, ethnicity, prominence,
benevolent charity, activism, or other reasons for political advantage,
ending with convictions and punitive incarcerations against innocent defendants,
guilty of being Muslims in America at the wrong time when we're all just
- In a manipulated climate of fear, the same process repeats,
using bogus charges, secret evidence, enlisted witnesses to cooperate,
the defense prohibited from introducing exculpatory evidence, and proceedings
carefully scripted to intimidate juries to convict.
- Justice is again denied, Siddiqui another victim, a human
tragedy, portrayed by the dominant media as a jihadist, and getting public
sentiment to agree because disturbing truths are carefully suppressed.
- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre
for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com.
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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