August 6, 2008
The Independent

Pakistani Scientist in U.S. Court on Terror Charges

by David Usborne

A US-trained neuroscientist's appearance in a New York court charged with the attempted murder of American soldiers and FBI agents has sparked angry protests in her homeland of Pakistan.

Aafia Siddiqui, 36, is under suspicion of having links to the al-Qa'ida terror network of Osama bin Laden, and is the first woman ever sought by the US in connection with the group, which was behind the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

According to US officials, Ms Siddiqui, who reportedly studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, was arrested in Afghanistan on 17 July in possession of recipes for explosives and chemical weapons, as well as details of landmarks in the United States, including in New York.

Yesterday's charges related only to events that allegedly took place shortly after she was taken into custody in the town of Ghazni. Ms Siddiqui is accused of grabbing hold of a rifle belonging to one of the soldiers who was trying to arrest her and firing two shots at the men, while shouting phrases like: "My blood be directly on your head." . . .


[Dr Siddiqui, 36, is an American-educated neuroscientist. Since 2003, Siddiqui's whereabouts have been the source of much speculation. According to Amnesty International, Siddiqui and her three small children were reported apprehended in Karachi, Pakistan, in March 2003 after the FBI issued at alert requesting information about her location earlier that month.

Several reports indicated Siddiqui was in US custody after her arrest in Karachi. But in May 2004 then-Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller identified Siddiqui among several sought-after al Qaeda members

Human rights group and a lawyer for Ms. Siddiqui, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, say they believe that she has been secretly detained since 2003, for much of that time at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. . . .

I personally spoke with Lt Col Mark Wright at the US Pentagon who denied all knowledge of Prisoner 650 or Dr Aafia Siddique.

Now I don't believe for one minute Lt Col Mark Wright was lying in fact I did suggest to him that the people he was speaking to in Afghanistan (the FBI) might be lying to him.--Yvonne Ridley, "Prisoner 650," RESPECT, July 5, 2008]

[The American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), initially admitted that they had arrested Dr. Afia and then later denied it. Now, due to the coverage of the UA both in Pakistan and internationally, the FBI has now announced that "Dr. Afia Siddiqui is alive, she is in Afghanistan but she is injured". No further details have been provided and the AHRC is especially concerned about the three children who were also abducted along with her. It is reported that after receiving hundreds of responses to the UA initiated by the AHRC, the American and Pakistani authorities were compelled to issue information of the whereabouts of Afia Siddiqui who had been missing for five years after being arrested by the Pakistani Intelligence Agency. Acting on the information received, the AHRC in its appeal suspected that Dr. Afia is being kept in Bagram jail, Afghanistan, and that because of severe torture, had lost her mind. At this point people responded in their hundreds which pressured the American authorities. On 1st August an FBI official visited the house of Dr. Afia's brother in Houston to deliver the news that she is alive and in custody, Ms. Elaine Whitfield Sharp, Dr. Afia's lawyer, said that FBI officials would not say exactly who is holding her or reveal the fate of her three young, American-born children.

It is also reported that after filing a habeas corpus writ petition in the Islamabad High Court, Dr. Afia's friends and relatives were threatened by several state agencies of Pakistan to withdraw the case or face the same situation.--"FBI is responsible for disappearances, illegal detention and torture," Asian Human Rights Commission, August 4, 2008

Petra Bartosiewicz, "The intelligence factory: How America makes its enemies disappear," Harpers, November 2009

[The prosecution is but the latest twist in one of the most intriguing episodes of America's "war on terror". At its heart is the MIT-educated Siddiqui, once declared the world's most wanted woman. In 2003 she mysteriously vanished for five years, during which time she was variously dubbed the "Mata Hari of al-Qaida" or the "Grey Lady of Bagram", an iconic victim of American brutality.--Declan Walsh, "The mystery of Dr Aafia Siddiqui," Guardian, November 24, 2009]

[Any American who is illegally detained and imprisoned without due process can't be charged with a crime for resisting torture or imprisonment.--Gordon Duff, "WOMAN KIDNAPPED, RAPED AND HELD 5 YEARS IN SECRET BAGRAM PRISON NOW FACING TRIAL FOR ATTACKING CIA TORTURE SQUAD,", January 10, 2010]

Petra Bartosiewicz, "A Pakistani on Trial - With No Pakistani Reporters," Times, January 23, 2010

Mauri Saalakhan, "Dr. Aafia Siddiqui testifies at her trial," REALnews, February 1, 2010

[Her lawyer, Elaine Sharp, said: "This verdict is based on fear, not on fact."--Ed Pilkington, "Pakistani scientist found guilty of attempted murder of US agents," Guardian, February 4, 2010

"Ignoring Torture Claims and Questionable Evidence, New York Jury Convicts Pakistani Scientist Aafia Siddiqui," Democracy Now!, February 4, 2010

John Floyd and Billy Sinclair, "86-year Prison Term for Dr. Siddiqui: Victory in Courtroom is Loss on Worldwide Public Stage,", December 5, 2010

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