On Nov 5, 2012, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld the conviction and 86-year prison sentence of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, 40, for shooting at FBI agents and soldiers after her arrest in Afghanistan.
The Court said a lower court judge had not erred in allowing Aafia Siddiqui to testify in her own defence at trial and in allowing certain evidence against her.
Siddiqui was sentenced by US District Judge Richard Berman in September 2010. She was convicted by a New York federal jury of attempted murder, armed assault and other charges.
She was arrested in July 2008 by Afghan police, who said she was carrying 900 grams of sodium cyanide and crumpled notes referring to mass casualty attacks and New York landmarks.
The day after her arrest, she grabbed an M-4 rifle in her interrogation room and started shooting while yelling “death to America,” the trial jury heard.
No US agents or soldiers were hit, but Siddiqui was shot and wounded in response, according to US prosecutors.
Siddiqui’s defense lawyers, three of whom were paid by the Pakistani government, argued that their client had shot at the US officials in a panic and said the crime lacked any connection to terrorism.
On appeal, her attorneys challenged her conviction and sentence on many grounds. They said the judge improperly allowed jurors to consider the crumpled notes, and that the judge should never have allowed Siddiqui to decide whether to take the stand.
“The district court went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that Siddiqui understood the implications of testifying and had the capacity to testify,” the opinion said.
Dawn Cardi is one of Siddiqui’s attorney.
The appeals court also sided with Berman in finding that Siddiqui had likely premeditated the attack, and that terrorism sentencing requirements were applicable because of her willingness to harm Americans.
The severity of her sentence raises yet another question in a case already riddled with them: what is Siddiqui really being held accountable for? Is life imprisonment justified for firing at a handful of FBI agents and soldiers, none of whom were killed or injured? These questions will only add to the air of murkiness that still surrounds the case.
The circumstances of her arrest and the nature of her crimes and the conduct of her trial remain problematic.
Where was Siddiqui between 2003 and 2008? Was she in Pakistani or American custody? If so, is the story of her arrest in 2008 real?
If she wanted to carry out a terrorist attack against America, and possessed plans to do so when captured, why was she only charged with the crime of firing a gun at American officials after her arrest?
The problem with all this uncertainty is that it creates the impression that US authorities are hiding something, which raises doubts about the fairness of Siddiqui’s custody and trial.
The Pakistani government is also not been particularly forthcoming about her whereabouts prior to 2008. After four years of unanswered questions and a sentence that seems out of proportion to the charges that have been framed, the Aafia case will continue to be a lightning rod for anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.
Earlier, on February 10, 2012, the court-appointed attorneys (who are paid by the US government, and Aafia has repeatedly attempted to fire), argued before a US Court of Appeals on behalf of Aafia Siddiqui, although against her will.
This mockery of justice is simply yet another example of how Aafia’s conviction of a crime she did not commit is virtually guaranteed in the US justice system. Meanwhile, US agents who have perpetrated crimes against her, including kidnapping, torture, assault, and false imprisonment, have not been called to account.
It has now been years since agents of the US government shot Aafia Siddiqui and the beginning of the 11th year since she was abducted from Pakistan through a rendition operation locked up in Afghanistan, and forcibly removed from Afghanistan after an implausible shoot out, and illegally transferred her to the US.
So-called “high-profile” American criminal defense attorneys convinced the government of Pakistan to pay them millions of dollars, and then refused to resign when Aafia did not accept them. Neither did the Pakistani Government intervene. There can no longer be any doubt that Aafia will never receive justice in the US legal system.
Dr. Siddiqui’s sister, Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui (firstname.lastname@example.org), says that Dr Siddiqui has now undergone a forced abortion while in detention and was hemorrhaging seriously.
According to her, she has “informed that Aafia is pregnant and as I am typing she has undergone forced abortion, and was hemorrhaging profusely as of yesterday (November 2). I was informed by a phone call in witness of prison warden……another three days either she dies or survives leaving us no proof of the repeated humiliation”.
This message is yet to be confirmed by an independent and reliable source. She mailed this message to one of the most active news forums, SPN, which has created a panic in the country and people are worried about her health.
Dr Siddiqui is a citizen of Pakistan. Besides her past activities, which are yet to be proved, the government has the responsibility for her care and welfare. The government of Pakistan and Pakistani embassy in USA should immediately issue a statement clarifying the information about her forced pregnancy and abortion during custody and inform the people of Pakistan about her health.
The allegations are a combination of US intelligence analysis and direct testimony by at least three senior Al Qaeda figures, including the 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. They cannot be independently corroborated and the testimonies were likely to have been extracted under conditions of torture.
Muhammad, known as KSM in intelligence circles, was waterboarded 183 times in the month after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003.
But several of the accounts do overlap, linking Siddiqui, a 39-year-old mother of three, with some of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants. They help explain why the FBI placed her on a list of the world’s seven most wanted Al Qaeda fugitives in 2004.
The Guantanamo files offer a murky perspective, placing Siddiqui at the heart of an Al Qaeda cell based in Karachi between 2002 and 2003. Led by KSM, the cell conspired to mount fresh attacks in the US, on London Heathrow airport and inside Pakistan.
According to the files, the cell planned to smuggle explosives into America under the cover of textile exports and attack “economic targets”, according to KSM.
The operation would take place through an import export business run by Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani businessman who worked as a New York travel agent for 13 years before developing ties to Osama bin Laden. Paracha, 64, is currently in Guantanamo Bay.
According to Paracha’s file, Siddiqui’s role was to “rent houses and provide administrative support for the operation”. As part of this brief she travelled from Pakistan to the US in January 2003 to help renew the American travel papers of Majid Khan, a co-conspirator.
According to Khan, he provided Siddiqui with money, photos and a completed application for an “asylum travel form” that “looked and functioned like a passport”.
Then, according to Khan’s file, “Siddiqui returned to the US and opened a post office box in detainee’s name, using her driver’s licence information”.
The plot collapsed after Khan was picked up in Pakistan and sent to Guantanamo. A co-conspirator in America, Uzair Paracha, son of Saifullah Paracha, was arrested in possession of the post box key. Uzair was sentenced to 30 years’ jail in 2006; details of Siddiqui’s role surfaced during his trial. Her family say she was framed.
The Guantanamo files give fresh details on Siddiqui’s relationship with Ammar Baluchi, the nephew of KSM and a senior Al Qaeda figure facing a raft of serious allegations. Siddiqui reportedly married Baluchi during a secret ceremony near Karachi in February 2003. Siddiqui’s family denies the marriage took place.
Baluchi said he told Siddiqui, who has a biology degree from MIT, that Al Qaeda had set up a laboratory to make biological weapons. Siddiqui replied that she “was willing to participate in a biological weapons project if Al Qaeda tasked her to”.
Al Qaeda has a biological weapons programme based in Afghanistan stretching back to the late 1990s. When Siddiqui was arrested in Ghazni in 2008, her handbag allegedly contained several bottles of deadly chemicals, extracts from an “arsonist’s handbook”, and details of several prominent American landmarks.
Despite the serious nature of the allegations against Siddiqui contained in the Guantanamo files, the US has never attempted to prosecute her for them.
International Justice Network Report: Dr Siddiqui Was Abducted by Intelligence Agencies in 2003
She was labeled an al-Qaida supporter and was brought to the United States after her July 2008 arrest in Afghanistan. She was convicted of grabbing a rifle and trying to shoot US authorities while yelling, ”Death to Americans!” Her February conviction touched off protests in Pakistan.
Prosecutors called Siddiqui a cold-blooded radical who deserves life in prison.
Dr Siddiqui, who was present in the court, said that she wants no bloodshed over her conviction and sentence.
Reacting angrily to the sentence, her sister Dr. Fouzia Siddiqui at a press conference in Karachi, also addressed by her mother, blamed Pakistani rulers for the sentence. “The Pakistani rulers failed to honor their promises to bring Dr. Afia back to Pakistan.”
Aafia Siddiqui (born March 2, 1972, in Karachi, Pakistan) is an American-educated Pakistani cognitive neuroscientist was convicted after a jury trial in a U.S. federal court.
Pakistan’s Minister for Interior Rehman Malik who loves the media limelight said earlier the same day that all out efforts would be made to bring back Dr Siddique back to Pakistan. He said, “Dr. Afia is daughter of the nation and the government is utilizing all possible channels to bring her to back to Pakistan.” He added that a letter has been dispatched to US for the repatriation of Dr Siddiqui and that she should be deported to Pakistan under UN Convention for exchange of prisoners on humanitarian grounds. He said that President Zardari and PM Gilani have discussed the issue with all the delegations who had visited Pakistan from time to time.
The Minister said the government and opposition is also considering to bring joint resolution on the issue of Dr Siddiqui in the Parliament.
To a question he said the government had ordered an inquiry that from where Dr Siddiqui was lifted by US and even if she had been lifted from Afghanistan, under the international law, the country is bound to hand her over to the concerned country. He had nothing to say as to what was he doing for the past two and a half years since he became the Interior Minister, and as to why he has woken up now to order such an inquiry.
In a separate development, the Sindh High Court in February 2011 put the federal cabinet, foreign and interior secretaries on notice in a contempt of court application filed against them for flouting the SHC`s order in three identical petitions seeking directions to the federal government and its ministries and departments to move US authorities for return of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
The SHC in May 2009 had disposed of the petitions of the Human Rights Network, Amity International and Human Rights and Civil Liberties Society of Pakistan with a direction to the federal government to provide legal assistance to Dr Aafia Siddiqui and submit a report about the efforts being made by the government for her repatriation and the recovery of her two missing children within 45 days.
On Friday, Advocates Nisar A. Mujahid and Iqbal Aqeel prayed to the court to issue contempt of court notices to the federal secretaries as they did not comply with the court orders.
A division bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Athar Saeed, adjourned the hearing of the contempt of court application to March 16.
In its order, the SHC had earlier directed the federal government to instruct the Pakistan Embassy in Washington to appoint a senior officer as a liaison officer with the legal team assigned to conduct the case of Dr Siddiqui.
The court had also ordered that expeditious efforts be made by using diplomatic sources and agencies to trace her two missing children and directed the federal law officer to “submit a report within 45 days before the MIT [Member Inspection Team] as to what steps have been taken by the government in compliance of court`s order” and “if direction is not complied [with], contempt proceedings, if any, will be taken by court against them”.
On February 14, 2011, 2011, International Justice Network, representing the Afia Siddiqui in the United States, released a report stating that it has spent the past 14 months researching the circumstances surrounding the unusual arrest and custody of the Pakistani mother of three. Supported with previously unreleased evidence, IJN has uncovered direct involvement by Pakistan agencies in the disappearance of Dr. Aafia and her three young children in March 2003 — five years before the US government claims she was first arrested in Afghanistan in July 2008.
“I know this is not the verdict of American people, I know where it is coming from.”
Elaine Sharp, a defence attorney, came out of the court room to tell reporters that Ms Siddiqui had asked her to request the people of Pakistan to remain calm and that she has faith in the Almighty.
Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s Sister Meets Holbrooke
Dr Fauzia Siddiqui met PM Gilani and visiting US envoy Richard Holbrooke separately on Feb 10 in Islamabad. Fauzia met PM Gilani at Prime Minister House and appealed for the early release of her sister detained in America on the charges of assault on FBI officials. She informed the PM that Dr Afia was in worst health state and urged the government to use all its sources for her release. She also called on to US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, who is on his special visit to Pakistan. In the meeting Dr. Fauzia urged him to take effective measures for Dr Afia’s repatriation as early as possible. Meanwhile, she refused to talk with newsmen following the meeting.
Dr Aafia’s former husband, Amjad Khan, has suddenly reappeared from no where. In a detailed letter to the Daily Dawn, which the latter prominently displayed, he says that “as the father of three innocent children, I have been frustrated and anguished by what has taken place since my divorce from Dr Aafia Siddiqui in August 2002. I hesitated to come forward because I did not want anything I said to be used against the mother of my children. I am only speaking out now because I am desperately worried about my children’s safety.
In October 2002, Dr Aafia and I signed an agreement. I agreed that Aafia would retain custody of our three young children, Ahmed, Marium and Suleman. Aafia agreed to let me meet them and ensure their well-being. But Aafia did not uphold her side of the agreement.She did not let me meet my children or fulfil my obligation of financially supporting them. In June 2003, I filed a lawsuit for custody of the children. Based on past experience, I had reason to fear that Aafia might pursue her political ambitions to the detriment of our children’s welfare. It now seems that the truth may be worse than I could have imagined.
In the course of our lawsuit, Aafia’s mother, Ismat Siddiqui, testified in a sworn deposition in August 2003 that the FBI had informed her US lawyer that the children and their mother were safe with them. In US press reports, however, the lawyer, Elaine Sharp, said the FBI had told her exactly the opposite.
When my family and I inquired from the FBI, we were told that the US was still looking for Aafia and had no information about where the children were. Why did Aafia’s mother claim the FBI had told her lawyer they had the children when plainly the FBI hadn’t said anything of the sort?
My two oldest children are US citizens. If the Siddiquis had evidence that the US was holding our three innocent children prisoner, why didn’t they bring charges in the US against the relevant agencies?
Aafia’s uncle, S. H. Faruqi, in his article published recently, has claimed that he met Aafia in Islamabad in January 2008, and that Aafia’s face was altered by plastic surgery and that she had a national ID card under a fictitious name.
I would like to know where my children were at that time. Who were these ‘captors’ of Aafia and why had they held my children?
More recently, Aafia’s lawyer in the US, Elizabeth Fink, has claimed that our youngest son Suleman died in ‘captivity’. Whose captivity and where? Who were the people who were depriving me and my children from seeing each other? As an anguished father, I appeal to Elizabeth Fink and anyone else, here in Pakistan or in any other country, to come forward with anything they know about what has happened to all three of my children since 2003.
If there is any evidence that the US or any other agencies held them captive or, God forbid, been responsible for their deaths, I would like to see those responsible brought to justice.
I was relieved to hear that Ahmad was located in Afghanistan last month, and was brought to Islamabad, although I have many unanswered questions about how an innocent 12-year-old boy ended up in a war zone. Since Aafia’s sister Dr Fowzia was actively influencing the officials concerned and was posing as the real guardian of Ahmad, she took custody of him. I decided not to interfere in this process because Ahmad’s arrival might have been delayed or jeopardised as a result of the dispute and that would not be in his best interest.
In a New York Times report, Afghan officials who had interviewed Ahmad in Afghanistan said that “the boy was smart, confident and courageous”. After his handing over to the Siddiquis, however, they claimed that Ahmad is mentally unfit and cannot talk to anyone. Their lawyer, E. Fink, at a recent court hearing also claimed that Ahmad was heavily medicated because he is seriously disturbed.
I would like to know what happened after Ahmad was handed over to the Siddiquis that made him so mentally unfit as to require psychiatric treatment.
Since Ahmed returned to Karachi, I have tried contacting the Siddiquis over the telephone to see and meet him, but they refused to talk. I then went over to their house but was turned away from the gate. I sent a congratulatory letter to Aafia’s mother and sister requesting permission to visit and see Ahmad, but I did not get a reply.
Knowing the Siddiqui family’s intentions and attitude, I have no alternative left but to seek legal help for his custody. Why has Dr Fowzia been telling the media and government officials that my and my family’s whereabouts were not known, whereas in reality we had been frequently contacting her in connection with Ahmad. The government officials too did not bother to find out who the real and legal guardians of Ahmad were.
As of today, two of the children still need to be found. The truth does matter. If what the Siddiquis are saying is true, then whoever kidnapped Aafia and the children needs to be held responsible. I am still trying to locate and rescue my two younger children whose lives are in terrible jeopardy. I appeal to the nation to come forward and help in this regard before it is too late.”
On Nov 19, 2008, US District Judge Richard Berman, hearing the case of Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist charged with firing on US officials, deferred a decision on her competency to stand trial till Dec 17. At a conference hearing, the Federal Judge asked the defence lawyers and prosecutors to present their own findings on the mental status of Ms Siddiqui by Dec 17 before he could proceed with trial. An evaluation performed by a federal prison doctor in Carswell, Texas, said that Ms Siddiqui was “not currently 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 or to assist properly in her defence.
Both the defence and the prosecution expressed reservations about the Carswell prison doctor’s findings. They had both argued earlier that the frail-looking woman should undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
In the meantime, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, has sent a letter to the US State Department, urging the US authorities to allow Aafia Siddiqui to return home. The ambassador argued that since Ms Siddiqui had already been declared unfit to stand trial, there was no justification for keeping her in the United States. The ambassador called for her release on humanitarian grounds and said she should be sent to her family for treatment and recuperation.
Earlier, on Nov 17, 2008, US District Judge Richard Berman while reporting the results of the evaluation that Dr Aafia Siddiqui is mentally unfit to stand trial, according to her psychiatric evaluation, had adjourned the hearing to Nov 19 to discuss how to proceed with Aafia’s case, including the possible use of medication to treat her.. He said that Aafia is “not currently 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.
Her arraignment was delayed after Ms Siddiqui refused to submit to a strip search or cooperate with prison doctors.
On March 30, 2003, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui had disappeared from Karachi along with her three minor children, after leaving her mother’s house in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, in a Metro-cab to catch a flight for Rawalpindi; she never reached the airport.
The press reports claimed that Dr Afia had been picked-up by Pakistani intelligence agencies while on her way to the airport and initial reports suggested that she was handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). At the time of her arrest she was 30 years and the mother of three sons the oldest of which was four and the youngest only one month.A few days later an American news channel, NBC, reported that Afia had been arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of facilitating money transfers for terror networks of Osama Bin Laden. The mother of the victim, Mrs. Ismat (who has since passed away) termed the NBC report absurd. She went on to say that Dr Afia is a neurological scientist and has been living with her husband, Amjad, in the USA for several years.
When a Newsline correspondent walked into Dr Siddiqui’s large Karachi residence in Gulshan-e-Iqbal soon after her arrest, he was greeted by an old veiled woman. She was Ismat Siddiqui, mother of Dr Afia Siddiqui.
I don’t want to talk with anyone or to give any statement,” said Ismat Siddiqui. However, she went on to speak for about two hours during which time, she generally remained calm, apart from a few emotional outbursts.
My daughter is a highly educated woman, held in high esteem by her professors in the United States. I don’t know where she is and I am extremely concerned about her and her three children,” she said.
On April 1, 2003, a small news item was published in an Urdu daily with reference to a press conference of the then Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat. When questioned with regard to Dr Afia’s arrest he denied that she had been arrested. This was followed by another Urdu daily article on April 2 regarding another press conference in which the same minister said Dr Afia was connected to Al Qaeda and that she had not been arrested as she was absconding. He added: “You will be astonished to know about the activities of Dr Afia”. A Monthly English magazine of Karachi, Newsline, in a special coverage on Dr Afia reported that one week after her disappearance, a plain clothed intelligence went to her mother’s house and warned her, “We know that you are connected to higher-ups but do not make an issue out of your daughter’s disappearance.” According to the report the mother was threatened her with ‘dire consequences’ if she made a fuss.
Dr Siddiqui, who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, for about 10 years and did her PhD in genetics, returned to Pakistan in 2002. Having failed to get a suitable job, she again visited the US on a valid visa in February 2003 to search for a job and to submit an application to the US immigration authorities. She moved there freely and came back to Karachi by the end of February 2003 after renting a post office box in her name in Maryland for the receipt of her mail. It has been claimed by the FBI (Newsweek International, June 23, 2003, issue) that the box was hired for one Mr Majid Khan, an alleged member of Al Qaeda residing in Baltimore.
Throughout March 2003 flashes of the particulars of Dr Afia were telecast with her photo on American TV channels and radios painting her as a dangerous Al Qaeda person needed by the FBI for interrogation. On learning of the FBI campaign against her she went underground in Karachi and remained so till her kidnapping. The June 23, 2003, issue of Newsweek International was exclusively devoted to Al Qaeda. The core of the issue was an article “Al Qaeda’s Network in America”. The article has three photographs of so-called Al Qaeda members – Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Dr. Afia Siddiqui and Ali S. Al Marri of Qatar who has studied in the US like Dr Siddiqui and had long since returned to his homeland. In this article, which has been authored by eight journalists who had access to FBI records, the only charge leveled against Dr. Afia is that “she rented a post-office box to help a former resident of Baltimore named Majid Khan (alleged Al Qaeda suspect) to help establish his US identity.
Later, both the Pakistan government as well as US officials in Washington denied any knowledge of Afia’s custody, making her disappearance even more mysterious. In yet another twist, her husband Amjad Khan, whom Afia divorced three months before her disappearance, is also apparently under suspicion. According to Ismat Siddiqui, Amjad had wanted his eldest son to go to a madrassa, while Afia wanted her children to get an “English education.” Mrs. Siddiqui hinted that her former son-in-law was wanted by the FBI, but was not sure in what connection. Amjad Khan has no political background nor is he affiliated with any group, but his staunch Islamic beliefs may have motivated him to back or support Islamic extremist groups. According to Mrs. Siddiqui, he used to call his wife and mother-in-law “American agents.”
Surprisingly there has been no official report registered with the police about Afia’s disappearance which explains why Afia’s mother wanted to avoid going public. The police, meanwhile, is doing nothing to trace Afia. “We have no knowledge about this case nor has anyone contacted me,” said Sindh police chief, Syed Kamal Shah. Ismat Siddiqui, however, claims that she has spoken to high police officials, including Shah, about her daughter’s disappearance.
Whilst Dr. Afia’s whereabouts remained unknown, there appeared reports of a woman called ‘Prisoner 650′ being detained in Afghanistan’s Bagram prison and that she was being tortured to the point where she has lost her mind. Britain’s Lord Nazeer Ahmed, (of the House of Lords), asked questions in the House about the condition of Prisoner 650 who, according to him is physically tortured and continuously raped by the officers at prison. Lord Nazeer has also submitted that Prisoner 650 had no separate toilet facilities and had to attend to her bathing and movements in full view of the other prisoners.
On July 6, 2008 a British journalist, Yvonne Ridley, called for help for a Pakistani woman she believed was being held in isolation by the Americans in their Bagram detention center in Afghanistan, for over four years. “I call her the ‘grey lady’ because she is almost a ghost, a spectre whose cries and screams continues to haunt those who heard her,” Ms Ridley said at a press conference in Islamabad.
Ms Ridley, who went to Pakistan to appeal for help, said the case came to her attention when she read the book, The Enemy Combatant, by a former Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg. After being seized in February 2002 in Islamabad, Mr Begg was held in detention centres in Kandahar and Bagram for about a year before he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He recounted his experiences in the book after his release in 2005. Mr Imran Khan, leader of Pakistan Tehrike Insaf expressed his suspicion that prisoner 650 could be Dr Afia Siddiqui and USA and Pakistani authorities are hiding facts of ‘Prisoner 650′. However, on October 29/ 2008, Ms Yvonne Ridley, a female journalist who turned Muslim after staying in captivity of Taliban, and whose Muslim name is now Marium, stated that Prisoner `650′ was not Dr Afia as first thought by some of the prisoners as the latest information revealed that the lady was still in prison even after Doctor’s transfer to the USA.
To date, neither the American nor the Pakistani government have come out about the arrest and detention of Dr. Afia in either Bagram or Guantanamo Bay where suspected terrorists are held.
On December 30, 2003 Dr. Fawzia Siddiqui, Dr. Afia’s elder sister met with Mr Faisal Saleh Hayat at Islamabad with Mr Ejazul Haq, MNA, regarding the whereabouts of Dr. Afiai. Mr Faisal told Dr. Fawzia and Mr Ejazul Haq that according to his information Dr. Afia Siddiqui had already been released and that she (Dr. Fawzia) should go home and wait for a phone call from her sister.
Media reported that she had been taken by the US authoritieswith compliance of Pakistani authorities since the FBI had wanted to seek some information from her. In the face of general outcry, the US and Pakistani authorities quickly backtracked but then a year later Pakistani Foreign Office admitted publicly that Aafia had been handed over to the US.
She became a concern for human rights organizations including Amnesty International who kept the case alive for five years. Outcry reached a highwater mark and urgent appeals were sent by Asian Human Rights Commission on July 22, to President George Bush and other persons of authority.
On August 4, the US authorities officially admitted of having Aafia in their custody but the US Department of Justice brought forth a charge sheet against her, claiming that she was arrested on July 17 (and not before) while loitering around near the residence of Ghazni’s Governor. They alleged that papers found in her handbag included instructions on making bombs and notes about installations in US.
They explained her wounds by saying that a day after her arrest she took an M4 rife which belonged to US military personnel and fired two rounds at close range, which missed, and she had to be shot in the torso.
Due to a bullet wound and removal of one kidney, Dr. Afia Siddiqui health was in a serious condition when she was flown to the United States, but no medical assistance was provided to her whilst she was been in American custody in New York.
It is reported that she was brought to Pakistan in February 2008 to convince her to become a government witness against Khalid Shiek Mohammad – a high profile Al-Quaida leader and allegedly one of the masterminds of the September 11 attacks, who has been detained in Guantanamo Bay prison. As the case against Khalid Shiekh Mohammad is about to start the American forces need the assistance of Dr. Afia Siddiqui to convict him.
In addition, although one son is with Dr. Afia but the strong whereabouts of her two other children still remain unknown. Her two children who remain missing were not with her when she was shifted to a governor’s house in Afghanistan, for a brief stop over prior to her journey to New York, under heavy security. When she was being taken aboard a special plane there was no female security officer to provide support or assistance to her, and it was reported she fell down at least two times.
On August 16, the US envoy to Pakistan made a public statement saying that the US had no “definitive knowledge” of the whereabouts of Aafia’s children but only a few days later the Afghan authorities revealed that an 11-year-old boy had also been “arrested” with Aafia and this boy was then repatriated to be received byAafia’s family as her eldest son.
One could smell a rat here: a person of such prominence as US envoy is unlikely to risk a misleading statement unless the stakes are really high. Aafia’s son, finally repatriated by Afghan authorities, cannot recall much and is having nightmares. Did the authorities deny knowledge of his whereabouts initially because at that time they were brainwashing him and were still unsure that it would work?
It seems as if the US authorities knew that this story won’t stand a test in the court and their real strategy was to buy time for declaring Aafia mentally unfit or perhaps even to induce mental disorder while in custody.
The story narrated about this alleged episode is not plausible, and contradictions self-evident. Yet Aafia has been suffering pain and humiliation in US prison for more than two months now. There are fears that she is now being brainwashed in order to render her incapable of giving evidence against any atrocities that might have been committed against her.
Three Anomalies in the Trial
Basically: (a) victim has become the accused; (b) allegations are not being addressed in proper order; and (c) allegations against US authorities by human rights groups and concerned citizens are going un-addressed.
Her children were not mentioned by FO, but President Musharraf later dropped hint in his autobiography that “arresting” minors and even infant children of accused was part of tactics beingused in the US War Against Terror.
Victim has Become the Accused
Those who say that they hope to get justice from US legal system in this case are overlooking the fact that the trial is not being held to provide justice to Aafia. It is being held against her.
Allegations not Addressed in Proper Order
The case involves three allegations, not one. These need to be addressed in the order in which they appeared:
The FBI’s declaration that it needed Dr. Aafia Siddiqui for interrogation (2003).
Allegations raised by human rights organizations and PakistanTehrik-i-Insaf that Aafia Siddiqui was being illegally detained, raped andtortured by US authorities (with possible compliance of Pakistani authorities) for five years, and that her three minor children were inillegal detention. July 6, 2008 is the high water mark for this allegation.
Allegation raised by US authorities against Dr Siddiqui that she tried to assassinate US army personnel on July 18, 2008. This allegation was brought forth on August 4, 2008.
The first of these has not been legally pursued by authorities even after they admitted having custody of Aafia. Hence it may be considered as dropped.
The second allegation, which is against US authorities, has never been answered seriously except for a flat rebuttal in inappropriate and condescending tone (consider the US envoy’s open letter of August 16).
Now the third allegation is being addressed in a court of law without addressing the second. This leads to great confusion. The victim has been given into the custody of the party accused of committing offenses against her, and mandate is given to them to further curtail her liberties as a “high security risk”.
Let’s understand: it’s not as if US Government said that it would rather like to keep Aafia in a rehabilitation center in America for treatment of torments suffered by her during five-year-long illegal detention. The victim is now in custody of the party accused of committing the following atrocities against her:
- Abduction and illegal detention of the victim
- Abduction and illegal detention of the victim’s minor children
- Attempt of coercing the victim to sign false evidence
- Threatening the victim with murder of her children
- Sexual abuse, rape and torture
- Attempted brainwashing
- Possibly, murder of two of the victim’s minor children
The first step should have been to ensure that the party accused of committing these offenses didn’t have any further access to her with malevolent intent. The opposite has happened.
In the case of rape, the term “victim” is applied to the aggrieved party even before her case is proven true in a court.
Aafia’s transfer from military to civil authorities doesn’t ensure that her abusers have lost influence: responding to journalists’ question about why they didn’t seek bail for Aafia, her lawyer answered, “There’s more in this case than meets the eye.”
What’s Going Wrong Now
Following incidents which can be seen as injustice or malpractice have occurred after August 6, when Aafia was first presented in New York:
Victim was remanded on implausible charges
Bail was not even sought by her lawyers
US envoy gave a questionable statement about victim’s children
It’s possible that the victim’s eldest son was brainwashed before beinghanded over by Afghan authorities
Motion to establish the victim as mentally unfit to stand trial, if accepted,
will disqualify her from giving evidence later against her abusers
At Carswell, the victim can be at risk of being brainwashed or rendered incapable of providing evidence.
Two children of the victim are still missing. If they are still alive then it is possible that they are being used as hostages to pressurize her. Allegations of her illegal detention, rape, etc, and the abduction of her children, is going unaddressed.
Can She Get Justice from US Legal System?
That question will arise only after a case is brought up to seek justice for her. The current trial has been registered against the victim and not against her abusers.
Unfounded speculation is bad but some speculation is required for arriving anywhere in legal matters. Here we are forced to choose between two options:
either the story about Aafia’s alleged arrest and shooting as told by the DOJ is true, or it is false.
The story is not likely to be true. Consider this passage from rejoinder to US envoy’s letter by Kamran Shafi, journalist and former trainer in small arms:
By the way Excellency, if you care to notice, Aafia Siddiquiis about your build and dimensions. May I suggest you get one of your Marines at the embassy to bring you a US army-issue M4 rifle. Now ask him to clear the chamber, affix the magazine, put the rifle on ‘safe’, and place it on the ground which would be the exact position in which Aafia Siddiqui found hers and with which she is alleged to have fired upon the US officer. You may very well fail toeven cock it in 10 seconds, let alone find the safety catch, lift the rifle to your shoulder and fire it.
Charge sheet against Aafia was implausible and inaccuracies could have been exposed through a simple simulation/demonstration. Yet the American judge gave remand of her person instead of sending her to a hospital as she deserved in view of her condition (she was still bleeding from bullet wounds).
Why should seeking bail be so difficult in a case where the accusation doesn’t pass the test of common sense, let alone legal proceeding? More importantly, why was bail not even sought?
Such speculation sounds harsh but once the DOJ story is rejected there is noway we can pass over it as an “honest mistake”. If the story is false then obviously we are dealing with an unusually ugly and disturbing cover-up of enormous dimensions.
We must not forget the three other victims in this case: Aafia’s minor children.
The first is Ahmad Siddiqui, 11-year-old, and the anomalies in his case raise suspicions of a three-step approach to cover up brainwashing in captivity. First, deny having any “definitive knowledge” of the captive’s whereabouts. Second, admit that he was in detention even at the time of those denials. Third, send him home in mentally unstable state where he cannot recall details about captivity.
There is a stark analogy between his fate and the contradictory reports now coming out about her mother: is she at now, undergoing brainwashing?
By the authorities’ own admission Ahmad’s detention at least from July 17 to August 22 was irregular: it was covered up despite urgent appeals from around the world.
The second victim is Aafia’s daughter Mariam, 10 years old (5 at the time of her disappearance), and the third is the youngest son Salman, 5 years old (six monthsat the time of his disappearance). Authorities deny having “definitive knowledge” of his whereabouts too.
It may be remembered that capture of minor children and infants for pressurizing their parents was described by Pakistan’s former president Muharraf as fair tactic while participating in American War Against Terror.
United Nations was a giant step towards peace, but what about “united humanity”?
We need to alter certain perceptions now and we need to set new precedents.
Consequences for Everyone
The case is so complex, and its details so gruesome, that many still may nothave realized what the possible outcome of her mistreatment might turn out to be.
The analysis offered here may not be how everyone is seeing things now but it is likely to be how these things will be seen in times to come, as the truth gradually seeps into people’s conscience.
Then a great setback for human rights may be suffered because in our timessuch rights rest on the premise that people are entities who should be respected, their humanity cannot be usurped by any government and a person cannot be objectified before the mystique of state. Losing this one case of Dr Aafia Siddiquican mean losing the very premise of human rights, and losing it in bright limelight.
It is not just about Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, but rather ironically, it is also about whather first name means literally in her native language: comprehensive safety. She is a highly educated woman who made it to the upper strata of middle class in two societies – Pakistan and US. What happened to her can happen to anyone, and it may happen more easily in future if bad precedent is set now.
For America, it is a moment of truth. The international community has been hearing so much about the “deposed” Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who used to take suo moto action on such cases, forcing his government and its much-dread intelligence agencies to become answerable to the court. Global observers are likely to notice that no judge in US seems to be as willing to take suo moto action in this case as Justice Chaudhry of Pakistan would have been even if such thing had been found in his jurisdiction. Tables are turning: at the going rate it might not bevery long before US finds itself lagging behind developing countries in matters ofawareness about human rights among the masses. For its own good, US ought torevise its take on this case.
Aafia’s Sister Speaks to the Press
On August 5, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, a sister of Dr Aafia Siddiqui who is in US custody, dismissed as a pack of lies FBI’s claim of having found Dr Aafia possessing documents about preparing chemical weapons. Addressing a press conference in Karachi, Dr Fauzia called upon the government and all political and religious parties to rise and stop persecution of Dr Aafia and try to get her and her children released and brought back home because they did not expect justice in a US court. She distributed among journalists copies of the “charge-sheet” against Dr Aafia presented to a US magistrate judge in New York.
Dr Fauzia said that her sister had been tortured for five years until the day the US authorities announced that they had found her in Afghanistan. This showed how they had abused their authority and tortured an innocent woman. “The FBI on July 31 and August 1 confirmed that Aafia is injured and alive and is in custody in Afghanistan” and now it has been stated that she has been shifted to the US.
Dr Fauzia pointed out that an FBI agent had told the US court in an affidavit that Afghan police officers of Ghazni province had found Aafia along with a teenage boy outside the Ghazni governor’s compound. She said it was a joke because a woman who had disappeared while on way to the airport in Karachi to take a flight for Rawalpindi in March 2003 had been found five years later in Ghazni.
Demanding information about her three children, she said that her relatives in the US who wanted to fight her case were being denied access to her.
Dr Fauzia also said that Aafia was not a neurobiologist, but had specialised in helping mentally retarded children to improve their memory.
Answering a question, she said that she and her relatives had met the relevant authorities in Pakistan soon after Aafia’s abduction and they promised that she would be released soon, but all of it turned out to be farce.
Why was she charged with possessing documents about chemical weapons now and why was she not tried five years ago when she had been abducted?, she asked.
On October 8, a delegation of Pakistani senators, consisting of Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, SM Zafar and Sadiq Abbasi met detained Dr Afia Siddiqui. The meeting continued around two and half hours; in the meeting Dr Siddiqui told the delegation about her health. Talking about Dr. Afia’s mental health, Mushahid said, “Dr. Afia is perfectly all right, there seems to be no problem regarding her mental health.” Mr Mushahid Hussain said that she was under enormous mental stress in the past and because of that she might was not well for some times but while meeting with the delegation she was quite happy.
Dr. Afia denied the entire allegation regarding her involvement in a firing on American soldiers’ incident in Afghanistan; she said that all the allegations were fake and unfair.
On August 21, Pakistan’s National Assembly by passing a resolution demanded repatriation from the United States of Dr Siddiqui. “We call upon the federal government to take up the matter with U.S. authorities,” said Foreign Minister, while reading out a resolution adopted unanimously. Qureshi also asked the U.S. authorities to immediately provide necessary medical assistance to Siddiqui, shot in the abdomen when U.S. officials claimed she tried to fire on a group of American troops who wanted to question her in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province.
Earlier, on Nov 17, 2008, US District Judge Richard Berman while reporting the results of the evaluation that Dr Aafia Siddiqui is mentally unfit to stand trial, according to her psychiatric evaluation, had adjourned the hearing to Nov 19 to discuss how to proceed with Aafia’s case, including the possible use of medication to treat her.. He said that Aafia is “not currently 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.”
Her arraignment was delayed after Ms Siddiqui refused to submit to a strip search or cooperate with prison doctors.
On March 30, 2003, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui had disappeared from Karachi along with her three minor children, after leaving her mother’s house in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, in a Metro-cab to catch a flight for Rawalpindi; she never reached the airport.
The July 3 hearing was scheduled to ascertain Ms Siddiqui’s mental health to stand trial by.
The court appointed doctor, Powell gave his opinion on Siddiqui’s mental status in the presence of Judge Berman and Siddiqui.
Ms Siddiqui returned to New York from Fort Worth (Texas) where she was sent for mental evaluation.
Siddiqui’s court appointed lawyer, Dawn Cardi, was also present besides a representative of Pakistan Embassy.
During the 30 minute discourse, Judge Berman was informed that Siddiqui was in good physical state. However, her lawyer Dawn Cardi disputed government’s claim.
Last November defense lawyers claimed that Siddiqui who was undergoing court ordered Psychiatric tests was unfit to stand trial. But on March 26 this year, US prosecutors submitted documents to the trial court stating that two independent, government psychiatrists had determined that Ms Siddiqui was ‘malingering’ or faking her symptoms of mental illness.
On July 6, Dr Aafia Siddiqui turned her hearing into a pulpit for telling anyone who would listen that she doesn’t hate America but doesn’t trust its courts. She repeatedly spoke to spectators, a US marshal’s deputy sitting behind her, her lawyers and even a team of five prosecutors and aides in front of her at the start of the afternoon session of the daylong proceeding. They were her first public comments since she was brought to the US from Afghanistan 11 months ago.
‘I want to make peace with the United States of America,’ Siddiqui said to the backs of those at the prosecution table. ‘I’m not an enemy. I never was.’
In court on July 6, she said: ‘I did not shoot anybody. I didn’t fire any bullets.’ Her defence attorney also disputes the US government’s account of what happened in Afghanistan, and a not guilty plea has been entered for Siddiqui. If convicted of the charges, Siddiqui, 37, would face a minimum of 30 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Throughout July 6’s hearing, Siddiqui rubbed her wrists, reddened by what she said was rough treatment by jailhouse guards who forced her to court in observance of the judge’s order that she appear. She pulled a white scarf over her face so only her eyes were seen.
Siddiqui earned an undergraduate degree in biology from MIT in 1995 and a doctorate in neuroscience from Brandeis University in 2001. She left the United States in June 2002 with her three children. She told the FBI that she worked at the Karachi Institute of Technology in 2005, that she tried to look for her husband in Afghanistan in the winter of 2007 and that she stayed for a time in Quetta.
Siddiqui had appeared in court twice after she was brought to the US last August but had refused to attend proceedings since then. US District Judge Richard Berman said he will rule later if she’s competent to stand trial in October.
Newly public court documents contain reports by psychologists who treated Siddiqui after she was arrested in Afghanistan in July 2008 and was charged with taking a gun and shooting at US soldiers and FBI agents. She was shot in the abdomen in the encounter.
Defence lawyers for Siddiqui are challenging her competency for trial, citing the conclusions of an expert who found she is suffering from delusional disorder and depression.
Prosecutors cite reports by psychologists who say Siddiqui’s behavior reflects malingering, the intentional production of grossly exaggerated psychological symptoms aimed at getting a result, such as avoiding trial.
Leslie Powers, a forensic psychologist, wrote in a document dated May 4 and put in the court’s public file late July 2 that new information helps show Siddiqui was living freely in Pakistan and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2008.
Reports prepared by Siddiqui’s psychologists claim that she was living freely in Pakistan and Afghanistan for portions of the five years before her arrest last year, disputing claims that the scientist had spent those years in the custody of foreign authorities.
As opposed to both the above versions, Siddiqui’s supporters and former lawyers maintain she had likely been taken into custody by foreign military intelligence authorities during those years and was subjected to torture, sexual abuse and beatings.
Psychologists say she’s had delusions that include seeing her three children in her cell and being visited by flying infants and dark angels.
L. Thomas Kucharski, a psychologist for the defence, testified Siddiqui suffers from delusional disorder and depression and is unfit for trial. Two mental health experts for the government, Gregory B. Saathoff and Sally C. Johnson, testified she’s fit for trial because her behaviour reflects malingering or grossly exaggerated psychological symptoms aimed at getting a result, such as avoiding trial.
When Johnson testified that Siddiqui had said the judge is a pawn of a Zionist conspiracy and only wants to kill her, Siddiqui turned toward spectators and nodded her head enthusiastically in apparent agreement.
Johnson said Siddiqui’s descriptions of seeing her children in her cell and other events had subsided over the months and an analysis of her recorded conversations with her brother and others had shown that she understood the charges against her and the legal process.
Kucharski testified that her prospects might be worse if she were found incompetent because it could trigger a court order of forced medication to treat symptoms so that she could become competent for trial. And, if her symptoms are not treatable, she could remain institutionalised for life, he said.
The psychologist also wrote that Siddiqui’s ex-husband, Mohammad Amjad Khan, reported seeing either her or their children on several occasions in 2003, 2004 and 2005. ‘While her accounts of her time are incomplete, her statements and other facts gathered seem to corroborate that she was not held captive from 2003 until 2008,’ Powers said.
Powers said Siddiqui was interviewed at length by the FBI for several days after her arrest on July 18, 2008.
She said FBI agents who accompanied Siddiqui on her 20-hour flight to the United States last Aug. 4 reported that she showed no signs of psychosis or psychological distress and that she was fully oriented and talkative throughout the trip.
Powers and two other experts have concluded Siddiqui is competent for trial.
In a defence exhibit, psychologist L. Thomas Kucharski, chairman of the Department of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, concluded that Siddiqui suffers from delusional disorder and is depressed.
He said her delusions ‘include the belief that the court is part of a conspiracy to have her killed, tortured and/or have her witness the torture of her children.’
He added: ‘She believes that the outcome of her trial is predetermined; that she will get the death penalty and has stated to this evaluator that there is no need to go to trial or work with her attorneys in her defence because of this predetermination. She required that I inform the court to just impose the death penalty or whatever penalty it chooses and to not bother her with the formality of proceedings.’
Gregory B. Saathoff, an associate professor in psychiatric medicine at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine, said delusions Siddiqui had had involving flying infants, dark angels, a dog in her cell and children visiting her in her room were largely resolved after she believed she was found incompetent to stand trial.
Sally C. Johnson, a professor in the psychiatry department at the University of North Carolina, wrote in a March 16 report that Siddiqui’s medical problems have been treated and stabilized.
Johnson said Siddiqui has given vague accounts of her whereabouts from 2003 to 2008, saying she was given shelter by different people.
Johnson said Siddiqui has also given varying accounts of where her children were during those years but told one agent that sometimes one has to take up a cause that is more important than one’s children.
Johnson left a warning at the end of her report, saying that in spite of Siddiqui’s frail and timid appearance – she has weighed as little as 90 pounds – ‘her potential for aggression towards herself or others might be underestimated.’
She cited reports that Siddiqui had taken actions to try to escape from custody before she was transferred to the United States. Johnson recommended that adequate care be taken to protect Siddiqui.
‘Given her expressed degree of devotion to her belief system,’ she wrote, ‘it is possible that she could perceive herself as a martyr for a cause.’
Before she left court, Siddiqui insisted she’s not paranoid or psychotic and described her fears that her statements on July 6 might be her last.
‘It’s probably the last opportunity I’m going to get,’ she said, noting the possibility she will be subjected to forced medication. ‘I’ve seen people on the drugs. They can’t talk.’
At least twice during the hearing she indicated she will not cooperate with her court-appointed lawyer, Dawn M. Cardi. Cardi said outside court that her client’s behaviour supported her argument that she’s unfit for trial. ‘She’s not making any sense,’ Cardi said. The lawyer noted that Siddiqui had shouted to spectators that she could bring peace to Pakistan and Afghanistan if she were permitted to speak with President Obama. It was an example of grandiose behaviour that supports conclusions that she is delusional, Cardi said. In court, Siddiqui told spectators: ‘The American president wants to make peace. I want to help him. Am I making sense? I’m sincere.’
According to another report the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has been approached by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency for access to Dr Aafia Siddiqui to investigate her alleged links with any terror network. FIA Director General Tariq Khosa called for a probe against Siddiqui’s ex-husband, Mohammad Amjad Khan ‘to get vital information,’ a report in this newspaper said. A source claimed that FIA staff had also sought an interview with one of the Pakistani senators, who recently met Dr Siddiqui in the US.
An Islamic charity organization reported recently it has collected some $70,000 for the defense fund of Siddiqui.
The defendant, Aafia Siddiqui, has “sufficient present ability to consult with her lawyers with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and she also has a rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings against her,” Berman wrote.
Over the last year, psychiatric experts who have evaluated Siddiqui have said she reported dramatic hallucinations and delusions involving flying infants, dark angels, a dog in her cell and children visiting her.
One expert noted that the hallucinatory experiences ended abruptly after a psychologist found her incompetent for trial last year after a one-month evaluation. The psychologist later changed her opinion after a six-month study and a review of thousands of documents. “This is an instance where a defendant may have some mental health issues but may nevertheless be competent to stand trial,” Berman wrote.
Mental health experts testified earlier this month in a hearing that was interrupted several times by Siddiqui’s outbursts. At one point during a break, she shouted toward prosecutors: “I want to make peace with the United States of America. I’m not an enemy. I never was.”
The judge noted in his ruling that Siddiqui’s polite and appropriate demeanor during the first two hours of the hearing changed abruptly after a prosecutor asked a witness if he had seen any outbursts from Siddiqui. “Immediately thereupon, Dr. Siddiqui became much more loquacious, outspoken and difficult in the courtroom,” Berman said.
The judge noted that Siddiqui appeared appropriately groomed and in good physical condition at her hearing, entering and exiting the courtroom at an appropriate pace and without assistance.
Her lawyer, Dawn Cardi, did not immediately respond to a message for comment.
Yusill Scribner, a spokeswoman for prosecutors, declined to comment.
The committee decided that Dr Aafia’s sister, Fauzia Siddiqui, would be invited in the next meeting to share details of her sister’s case. It also considered sending a delegation of selected members of the committee to the US to meet Dr Aafia.
Dr Aafia’s detention, madrassa reforms, and a review of the report of the committee’s sub-body on the presence of American private security firm Blackwater in the country were discussed in the meeting.
Of the 16 jurors, 12 will be part of the jury team and four will be alternate team in case someone falls sick. Out of the 12, seven are women and five are men, with four alternate jurors, two men and two women.
“I have nothing to do with 9/11,” Ms Siddiqui declared when a potential juror who cited her personal experience on Sept 11 was dismissed. Dr Aafia suggested Israel was behind the attacks.
Ms Siddiqui’s trial for allegedly shooting at her US interrogators in Afghanistan in July 2008 by grabbing rifle during an interrogation in Afghanistan begins in the US District Court in Manhattan on January 19. She’s not facing terrorism charges.
When Judge Richard Berman quizzed the jury panel whether their 9/11 experiences would influence their deliberations, Ms Siddiqui stood up from the defence table.
“The next question will be on anti-Semitism, Israel was behind 9/11. That’s not anti-Semitic,” she said before being escorted out.
Judge Berman later said that anyone who disrupts proceedings will be removed, but that Ms Siddiqui has a right to be present for her trial and would be allowed to return.
On Jan 13, Ms Siddiqui demanded that Jews should be excluded from the jury at her trial.
Ms Siddiqui has repeatedly said she is boycotting her own trial and has attempted to make her case directly to prospective jurors and the judge.
Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a mother of 3 children is facing trial for, supposedly, wrestling an M-16 away from a CIA torture squad and trying to kill them. How did the CIA get her? They bought her. She was sold to them by a corrupt official in Pakistan as a “terror suspect,” a common problem and a well known ploy in the George Bush phony war on terrorism.
Was she a terrorist? There is no evidence of this, even after years of torture. The only serious crimes we find her guilty of is being a house wife, mother and Islamic and, I forgot, having an education. Her victims? Crippled and 100 pounds, she took on a room full of former Navy Seals, Special Forces and “private interrogators.” The obvious truth, of course: the charges are a fabrication by a pack of cowards and liars.
What do we really know?
We really don’t know anything at all.
Nobody has any evidence that this woman, a scientist educated in the US did anything at all.
There is talk, empty talk about her sending money to charities that might be tied to terrorism. The amount of money is about 2% of a typical payment from one of the Saudi royals that have funded terrorists and suicide bombers for years, but none of them are kidnapped, raped, shot or beaten.
They have oil.
The case against her is made, at length, in the Wikipedia article about her. It is a good read. It makes me proud to be an American. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aafia_Siddiqui
What we see exposed, however, is the slave trade in “terror suspects” created during the Bush Administration fear frenzy when intelligence agencies around the world started dragging innocent people off the streets and selling them to the US for millions of dollars to supply the needed number of “terrorist arrests” to justify wild claims of a successful war on terror continually being made by Dick Cheney, Condi Rice and the rest of the gang.
The crime is an amusing one. A woman who was either just arrested or had been in custody for 5 years, depending on which of her captors you listen to. This should seem like an interesting read:
“On 4 August 2008, shorty after press rumors suggested that Siddiqui had been in Bagram for the last five years, the US government announced that Aafia Siddiqui was arrested on charges related to her attempted murder and assault of United States officers and employees in Afghanistan
The US claims that Siddiqui was not captured in March 2003, that she was arrested on July 17, 2008 outside the home of the Governor of Ghazni.The US account of the July 18, 2008 shooting is that FBI agents, interpreters, and several GIs entered arrived at the Afghan facility where Siddiqui was being held. The personnel entered a second floor meeting room—unaware that Siddiqui was being held there, unsecured, behind a curtain.
The Warrant Officer took a seat and placed his United States Army M-4 rifle on the floor next to the curtain. According to the US account the GIs set down their weapons, whereupon Siddiqui burst from behind a curtain, grabbed an M-4, and opened fire. One interpreter who was accompanying the officers seized the firearm from her.
US officials claim they have no idea where Siddiqui has been in the five years since she was captured on March 17, 2003.
Siddiqui arrived in New York on August 4, 2008, and was presented before a United States Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Siddiqui refused to accept the charges. Siddiqui’s lawyer stated that no one can believe the FBI story and that Siddiqui had actually been captured in Karachi, Pakistan along with three of her children.
On August 8, 2008 the Daily Times reported that Aafia was captured in Ghazni with her eldest son, Muhammad Ahmed. The report stated that documents existed that confirmed that Affia and her children had been captured in March 2003.”
This woman and her three children were kidnapped, and illegally held for 5 years under the most brutal conditions imaginable without any legal reason. She had been accused of no crime. After years of imprisonment, rape and torture, she is finally arrested for attacking those who tortured her.
After 5 years of imprisonment, Dr. Siddiqui was a total physical wreck, barely able to walk, and seriously disabled from hundreds of torture sessions. Yet she is accused of overpowering several Navy Seals and US Army Special Forces unarmed combat specialists, seizing a weapon and nearly killing all of them, this at a weight of 100 pounds.
“Nearly killing” is a bit of an overstatement. In fact, nobody was injured at all. The more we investigate this, the more this sounds like an outlandish war story cooked up to file for PTSD. She faces 20 years for this crime and only this crime. Since when was it a crime to attempt to escape from illegal imprisonment? Any American who is illegally detained and imprisoned without due process can’t be charged with a crime for resisting torture or imprisonment.
Attorney General John Ashcroft considered the kidnapping of this woman, along with her 3 children, one of the great victories of the War on Terror. However, after 5 years of interrogation and 7 years of confinement, no charges could ever be filed against her other than trying to single handledly crawl out of her death bed and dispatch a room full of “drug store” Rambo types.
Ashcroft has many success in his career. He is the only person in American history to have lost a seat in the US Senate to a dead man. In an unpublicized but much more interesting case, Ashcroft and his band of merry US Attorneys, in their attempt to rack up arrests for terrorism without doing adequate homework actually managed to drag in an entire CIA intelligence organization which had, until broken up by John Ashcroft and gang, penetrated the highest levels of Al Qaeda.
Not much more can be said, but several top CIA operatives now have the embarassing history of having been arrested for terrorist related charges. Ashcroft and later Gonzales have, through incompetence, done more to cripple US intelligence efforts than any group other than the Mossad.
Even the “outing” of CIA nuclear proliferation specialist Valerie Plame, believed to be responsible for North Korea getting nuclear weapons, involved much less utter bungling and inanity.
Nearly every legal expert in the world, including almost universal outrage among the legal community is Israel, has called this one of the most insane acts of abuse of any country that claims to have a functioning legal system and representative form of government.
Even the alleged “suspicious acts,” which are, by the way, buying totally legal and harmless gun accessories, is in itself totally insane. Am I going to have to register that dangerous combat assault flashlight I keep by my desk for when I drop my reading glasses?
Any idiot who goes to gun shows knows that the weapons that small children carry around in Afghanistan are ten times better than the things Americans can get from sporting good stores or thru mail order. Every time an American collector sees a photograph of a Taliban member who owns 2 goats carrying an AK rifle with forged receiver and top quality ART sniper scope, something worth $3000 or more in the US, the insanity of purchasing 3rd rate clone parts in the US to ship to a country that has enough assault rifles to supply the world for centuries begins to sink in.
Where is the NRA and ACLU?
Who is the Victims Here?
These things are obvious. We paid criminals to kidnap an innocent person for cheap public relations gain, elections were coming up and our War on Terror was looking as phony as, well as phony as it actually is. Then, after years of rape and torture, this frail Islamic woman tries to fight back, or so we are told, told by people who imprison innocent people, rape and torture. Are these witnesses we would have in an American court? She already considers herself dead. What human can survive such brutality, injustice, humiliation and abuse. Who are the real victims here? Americans who know nothing of the trial, American who sat silently while this went on, Americans who thought their cowardice was buying them “safety.”
The 37-year-old Siddiqui claimed that she was shot by two men while trying to escape.
”Somebody saw me and said something, a guy standing at the opposite end of the room saw me and shot me. And then another came from here and shot me. And then I just passed out,” she said.
She told jurors her case is an example of how authorities ”frame people,” she said.
Siddiqui, who’s been prone to courtroom outbursts and claims she was tortured in a secret prison, took the stand over the objections of her defense lawyers who said her ”diminished capacity” would turn her testimony into a ”painful spectacle.”
A judge allowed her to testify after prosecutors called her tirades ”opportunistic and calculated.”
The defendant was alternately poised, amusing and combative during about 90 minutes of testimony.
The first question asked by a prosecutor ”You were born in 1972?” got the response, ”If you say so.” She described the charges as being so outrageous that they sometimes ”make me smile under my scarf” a reference to a white scarf covering her head and face. She said that although she’s a scientist, ”I couldn’t kill a rat.”
US authorities’ portrayal is more sinister: They say Siddiqui picked up an unattended US military assault rifle at an Afghanistan police station on July 18, 2008, and fired two rounds at FBI agents and US Army soldiers. She missed and was wounded by return fire.
Prosecutors say the shooting occurred as Siddiqui was about to be questioned a day after she was caught by Afghan police outside a governor’s building. At the time of her arrest, she was carrying instructions for a dirty bomb and a list of New York City landmarks including the Statue of Liberty.
Siddiqui began her testimony by telling jurors she came to the United States to attend the University of Houston.
She later transferred to MIT, where she earned an undergraduate degree in biology, before obtaining a doctorate in neuroscience from Brandeis University in 2001.
She said she left the United States in June 2002 with her three children and returned to her native Pakistan.
Turning to the shooting, Siddiqui testified she was shot shortly after she poked her head around a curtain to see if there was a way she might slip out of the room where she was being held.
She said she was desperate to escape because she had been tortured in a secret prison and feared she would be taken there again.
”I was very confused,” she said. ”I wanted to get out. … I was afraid.”
She not only denied firing the M4 assault rifle, she said when she heard about the allegations she thought, ”What does an M4 look like?”’
After she was shot, she said she heard American voices saying: ”We’re taking this ‘B’ with us. They used the B-word.”
On the way to the hospital, she said she heard others expressing fear she might die. She said one of them said: ”A couple of us are going to lose our jobs.”—AP
On January 27, her defence brought in a forensic expert on Wednesday who testified that there was no evidence that a high-velocity M-4 gun was fired during a 2008 confrontation at an Afghan police station in Ghazni as claimed by the prosecutors.
William Tobin, a former Nasa employee, who testified as a forensic expert, said that in his opinion a photograph showing two holes in the wall were, with “scientific certainty”, not consistent with either a high velocity or low velocity bullet hole. He said they were simply “not bullet holes”. “SS09 bullets would have caused substantially more damage not only to the wall but also to the ceiling,” he testified.
Mr Tobin also said that the firing of an M4 would be such a “devastating event from a material standpoint that there should be a lot of evidence at the scene”.
According to his testimony, FBI officials are trained in gathering even the smallest fragments of evidence, but in the description of the incident given by the government there should have been even large fragments. Despite the fact that FBI officials were present at the shooting, no evidence of M4 shots were collected, neither large fragments nor small ones. Furthermore, no M4 casings, bullets, or residue were found anywhere in the room.
Last week FBI ballistics expert Carlo Rosati, who appeared as a government witness, made a similar statement. According to him, it could not be said with certainty that any shots were fired from the M-4 rifle. The only bullets fired at the scene were from the M-9 pistol that a US Army officer used to hit Dr Aafia.
A family lawyer has already announced an appeal, citing “prejudice and bias” against Siddiqui.
“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,” Ismat Siddiqui said from her home in the Gulshane Iqbal neighbourhood. “The verdict is a humiliation for America. The verdict symbolises the beginning of the downfall of American might,” she added.
Siddiqui’s mother also blamed the Pakistan government, which is a US ally in the war in Afghanistan and which had also expressed dismay over the verdict. “What has happened clearly shows the lack of seriousness on part of our government in getting her released.”
Aafia Siddiqui’s elder sister Fowzia, a doctor, slammed the US justice system. “The verdict shows that American justice system cannot provide justice to innocent people,” she said. “She is innocent… She has never been a staunch religious person but she loved people and other creatures of Allah in distress and never shied away from helping them.” She claimed her sister was set up and kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence on the way to catch a flight from Karachi to Islamabad. “She was picked up by Musharraf’s men while she was on her way to airport to leave Karachi for Islamabad. She was then handed to the Americans, so how can she go to Afghanistan on her own?”
Charles Swift, the lead defence attorney, said after the verdict that “I have faith in American justice system. We will appeal the verdict. I completely disagree with the verdict given”.
Sentencing will be carried out on May 6, Mr Swift said.
However, the jury did not find her guilty on any pre-meditated murder charge. According to her lawyer, Ms Siddiqui could be given a sentence of up to 35 years.
“I myself raised the issues about Doctor Aafia Siddiqui… with various Congress delegations visiting Pakistan,” PM told reporters in Islamabad.
The case provoked outrage in Pakistan, with protests erupting throughout the country after the verdict and Pakistan’s President Zardari ordering his government to provide her with legal assistance in the US.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the media that the fingerprints of the young girl did not match the ones present in Nadra data base under the name of Mariam. However, Mr Malik’s statement, which was based on Nadra’s official response, was different from what senior policemen said.
A senior police officer overseeing the investigation stated that Nadra officials had tried to match the unidentified girl’s fingerprints to those present on Mariam’s manual passport issued in 2003. Since the passport was not machine readable, technically it was not possible to match the prints on it to the girl’s passport.
However, SSP Investigation of Zone East Niaz Ahmed Khosa said that the authorities had sent the blood samples obtained from the two children to the Institute of Biomedical and Genetic Engineering (IBGE) in Islamabad. The DNA profiling of the two samples would be carried out to determine if the girl is related to Ahmed. The results may take a week’s time. Since the family was taking care of the young girl, the option of sending the girl to the Darul Amaan had been not considered.
If the results confirmed the young girl is Mariam, she would be formally handed over to the family, the officer said, adding that if she was not Mariam, she would be sent to the Darul Amaan.
An interior ministry official in Islamabad said that the girl was believed to have been kept in captivity in Afghanistan till now.
When asked why the Afghan government had not been contacted to confirm the identity of the girl if she was Dr Siddiqui’s daughter and had been held in Afghanistan, the official said that Kabul had never admitted that the girl was present in that country.
Lawyers made this strange request in a filing in US District Court in Manhattan, where she was convicted in February of two counts of attempted murder in the July 2008 attack on US authorities while she was detained in an Afghan police station.
Apparently, this request would jeopardise Dr Siddiqui’s case as it almost amounts to admission of guilt.
The lawyers said Siddiqui was ”driven” to her crime by mental illness.
”While the degree and extent of Dr Siddiqui’s mental illness has been the subject of much discussion in this case, one thing stands perfectly clear: the victim of Dr Siddiqui’s irrational behaviour is — first and foremost — none other than herself,” the lawyers wrote.
They described her behaviour in Ghazni, Afghanistan, as ”bizarre,” saying Siddiqui was ”cut off from any form of rational thought” by her knowledge that US authorities had engaged in the torture of detainees overseas.
”Cornered in the Afghan National Police compound, and left to her own devices, Dr Siddiqui tried, by any means available, to escape what she viewed as a horrific fate,” the lawyers said.
During Siddiqui’s three-week trial, FBI agents and US soldiers testified that when they went to interrogate her at an Afghan police station, she snatched an unattended assault rifle and shot at them while yelling, ”Death to Americans!”
She was wounded by return fire but recovered and was brought to the United States to face trial.
Siddiqui is scheduled to be sentenced in mid-August but the date is expected to be moved to September or later.
Her jury conviction set off protests in Pakistan, where there is a widespread belief that the charges against her were fabricated.
Siddiqui, trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University in the early 1990s, left the United States and returned to Pakistan after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Testifying in her own defence at trial, Siddiqui claimed she was tortured at a ”secret prison” before her detention. Charges that she attacked US personnel who wanted to interrogate her were ”crazy,” she said. ”It’s just ridiculous.”
Her lawyers said her behaviour at trial demonstrated her mental illness. They noted that she declared she was boycotting the trial, rejected her lawyers’ advice and subjected the court ”to frequent, nonsensical outbursts.”
After trial, she refused to meet with the probation officer or her lawyers, they said.
The lawyers urged the sentencing judge to reject the probation office’s recommendation that she be sentenced to life in prison, especially since she was never charged with any crimes of terrorism.