Monday, August 04, 2008

Disappeared in Pakistan, hysterical screams heard in Afghanistan, and now appearing in a New York court

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT graduate of Pakistani descent, who the US FBI claims to be an Al-Qaeda affiliate disappeared in Karachi on March 30, 2003. At the time of her disappearance Siddiqui was with her three children, aged 9 years through six months; the four of them were in a taxi headed for the Karachi airport. It was believed that Aafia (Afia) siddiqui was kidnapped by the Pakistani intelligence agencies and was later handed over to the US FBI. For the last five years both Pakistani and the US authorities denied having any knowledge of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui or her three young children. Earlier in July 2008, British journalist Yvonee Ridley held a press conference in Islamabad where she claimed Aafia Siddiqui was being held by the Americans at Bagram airport base near Kabul. Two days ago Siddiqui’s American lawyer got confirmation from the FBI that Siddiqui was indeed in the US custody—Siddiqui’s location was still not disclosed. And now the Department of Justice has issued this press release today:
According to this press release Aafia Siddiqui will be presented before a United States Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, tomorrow (August 5). Siddiqui will be tried for attempted murder of US officers and employees, in Afghanistan.
So now there are two versions of this story. According to the FBI version, that agency had no knowledge of Aafia Siddiqui till July 17, 2008 when she was arrested outside Ghazni governor's compound, in Afghanistan. This version implies that on March 30, 2003 Aafia Siddiqui ran away from Karachi to join Taliban/Al-Qaeda. Then, according to this official version, on July 18, Siddiqui tried to kill American soldiers by grabbing a rifle left near her by mistake, and that she would be tried in a New York court on the charges of attempted murder.
And then you have the Karachi-street version according to which Pakistani intelligence agencies kidnapped Aafia Siddiqui on March 30, 2003 and handed her over to the US FBI. The FBI kept Siddiqui at the detention center at Bagram airport base in Afghanistan. Because of the recent uproar after Yvonne Ridley’s press conference the FBI had no choice but to produce Aafia Siddiqui and come up with a "fabricated" official story.


Cemendtaur said...

What a terrific feeling it is to beat major news networks in breaking an international story!
CNN was five hours late and AFP was eight hours late in getting to the story yours truly filed last night. Read CNN's report here:
And AFP’s report here:

Cemendtaur said...

Got this in mail today.

Reflections of a Mother, a Peace Activist and the issue of Justice
The case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui
from New York, New York August 13, 2008

On Monday, August 11th, as I sat in the back of Room 26A, a hearing room of the U.S. Magistrate’s Court in downtown Manhattan, and listened to the lawyers’ barely audible presentations about Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, the 36 year-old Pakistani neuroscientist being charged with the alleged attempted murder of FBI agents in Afghanistan, I wondered which of the sensational ‘stories’ that have been released in the U.S. media are based on real provable facts, and whether any trial in a U.S. court of law could be truly fair, given that Dr. Siddiqui had already been condemned in the media and labeled a “dangerous terrorist”?

As I gazed toward the frail looking woman sitting unsteadily in a wheel chair, wearing a brightly colored yellow head scarf and Muslim covering, I thought, “What really happened to this brilliant young scholar who attended MIT and graduated with a Ph.D. in genetics from Brandeis, and now looked like a broken limp doll ready to collapse? For poor Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, blasted and slandered in the U.S. newspapers and TV reports, how could justice truly be rendered?”

I only had to listen to the ridiculous hemming and hawing of the lawyer representing the FBI and the government to have my worst fears confirmed: deny Dr. Afia medical examination by a licensed professional medical doctor, because “she is very dangerous, your honor”. For a moment, I felt that I would scream out: “You beast, how could you be so cruel? Even a wounded dog in this society is treated with more humanity!” Through testimony by her defense attorneys, we learned that Dr. Afia, although in the custody of the FBI in New York for one week, had not been seen by a doctor, despite the fact that she is in constant pain, has layers of stitches and a raw scar not yet healed from her breastbone all the way to her naval from bullet wounds to her abdomen and torso. I was infuriated by the callousness of the prosecutor’s opposition to her being seen by a medical doctor, the characterization that this tiny person slumped in a wheel chair, weighing barely 90 pounds, constitutes a ‘danger’? I thought, “Mr. Prosecutor, I think YOU are the one who is dangerous!” I immediately considered that perhaps the FBI doesn’t want the evaluation of this woman’s health condition because it is covering up something quite sinister. The presiding judge postponed the bail hearing and ordered that Dr. Siddiqui be seen by a medical doctor within the next 24 hours.

In fact, the FBI version so far has been a preposterous story bordering on fantasy, filled with conflicting statements, inflammatory labels - the “alleged Mata Hari of Al Qaeda” - and a script that reads like a book of fiction about the CIA and its infamous exploits. What became very clear to me during this brief courtroom hearing is that Dr. Siddiqui and the entire ‘case’ is being used to re-ignite the same fears that the infamous liar and now discredited witch hunter, John Ashcroft, former U.S. attorney general under Bush, spread to open the chapter in America of Bush’s “war on terror”.

According to Amnesty International, Dr. Siddiqui was reportedly apprehended in Karachi, Pakistan, after the FBI issued an alert requesting information about her location earlier that month. Dr. Siddiqui’s family reported her and her three children, aged four years to only one month at the time of her disappearance, missing in March of 2003. (We still don’t know where her children are.) How strange that Dr. Siddiqui was suddenly “found” “possibly plotting a terrorist attack” in Afghanistan following a press conference in Pakistan by investigative journalist, Yvonne Ridley, alleging that a woman prisoner, known as the “Grey Lady of Bagram,” Prisoner number 650, whose pitiful screams and cries were heard by male prisoners, has been held in the same infamous Afghan prison, and should be released. Is Dr. Siddiqui the victim of terror and abuse in that hell-hole at Bagram? And is she now being charged to cover up another set of Abu Gharib crimes?

Considering all of this, I was filled with anger and at the same time a deep sadness of what was taking place before my ears and eyes. As I left the courtroom blinking back my tears and went out onto the street in front of the Court House, I was somewhat heartened seeing a group of men, women and children of the Pakistani community holding up signs imploring the judicial system to ensure justice for Dr. Siddiqui, and asking the American people, “Where are your human rights?”

Are we once again witnessing the viscous and heartless behavior of the Bush Administration, already notorious for having violated the civil and human rights of the Iraqi and Afghani peoples? What I wish in my heart – justice for Dr. Afia Siddiqui - may not be what happens in the U.S. court of law.

The writer is a retired New York City educator. Readers may contact her at