Tag: Aafia Siddiqui

America v. Aafia Siddiqui

Aafia Siddiqui
Aafia Siddiqui

Aafia Siddiqui has been sentenced to 86 years in prison for allegedly taking an M-4 rifle away from a US Army warrant officer and firing it twice at him and other Americans in a small room, although no bullet fragments or shell casings from the M-4 were found at the scene of the crime, and Aafia Siddiqui’s fingerprints were not found on the M-4. The only bullets and casings found there came from the pistol with which the Americans shot Aafia Siddiqui twice in the stomach, and…

The only evidence against Aafia Siddiqui was the testimony of the men who shot her.

“It seems extraordinary to imagine that four U.S. agents who’d gone to pick her up – two military, two FBI – along with at least two Afghan translators, were somehow surprised by this woman, who overpowered them, grabbed a gun, flipped the safety, fired off a couple of shots, and then could only be subdued by shots to the torso,” said the Asia-Pacific director of Amnesty International, Sam Zarifi.


The strange conviction of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.

Dr. Aafia Saddiqui, a Pakistani citizen who earned her Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience in the United States, was recently convicted on multiple counts of attempted murder of US soldiers.  She was alternately and rather hyperbolically demonized by the US media and government as “Lady al Qaeda,” “the Mata Hari of al Qaeda,” and “one of the top seven most wanted al Qaeda operatives,” whereas in the accounts of human rights activists she was known as the grey lady of Bagram and prisoner 650.  

It’s difficult to summarize this bizarre tale as told in often conflicting, incomplete, and often utterly unsubstantiated media accounts, though some parts of the storyline remain somewhat consistent.    The skeleton of the story looks like this: Siddiqui completed her Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience at Brandeis and MIT.  She moved to Pakistan with her husband three children.  After divorcing her husband, she and her children were again returning to the US in 2003, but they never made it to the airport, and were unaccounted for over the next five years.  There are allegations that she was captured in Pakstan and sent to Bagram prison.  At around this time, she was accused by US officials of being a terrorist suspect.  In 2008, she was detained by Afghan police, interrogated and shot by Americans, then subsequently convicted of attempted murder by US courts on flimsy and dubious grounds.

Here’s one fairly apt summary of her case by Paul Craig Roberts, in an article titled, It’s now official: The US is a police state.

Dr. Siddiqui, a scientist educated at MIT and Brandeis University, was seized in Pakistan for no known reason, sent to Afghanistan, and was held secretly for five years in the U.S. military’s notorious Bagram prison in Afghanistan. Her three young children were with her at the time she was abducted, one an eight-month old baby. She has no idea what has become of her two youngest children. Her oldest child, 7 years old, was also incarcerated in Bagram and subjected to similar abuse and horrors.

Siddiqui has never been charged with any terrorism-related offense. A British journalist, hearing her piercing screams as she was being tortured, disclosed her presence. An embarrassed U.S. government responded to the disclosure by sending Siddiqui to the U.S. for trial on the trumped-up charge that while a captive, she grabbed a U.S. soldier’s rifle and fired two shots attempting to shoot him. The charge apparently originated as a U.S. soldier’s excuse for shooting Dr. Siddiqui twice in the stomach resulting in her near death.

On February 4, Dr. Siddiqui was convicted by a New York jury for attempted murder. The only evidence presented against her was the charge itself and an unsubstantiated claim that she had once taken a pistol-firing course at an American firing range. No evidence was presented of her fingerprints on the rifle that this frail and broken 100-pound woman had allegedly seized from an American soldier. No evidence was presented that a weapon was fired, no bullets, no shell casings, no bullet holes. Just an accusation.

Wikipedia has this to say about the trial: “The trial took an unusual turn when an FBI official asserted that the fingerprints taken from the rifle, which was purportedly used by Aafia to shoot at the U.S. interrogators, did not match hers.”

An ignorant and bigoted American jury convicted her for being a Muslim. This is the kind of “justice” that always results when the state hypes fear and demonizes a group.

The people who should have been on trial are the people who abducted her, disappeared her young children, shipped her across international borders, violated her civil liberties, tortured her apparently for the fun of it, raped her, and attempted to murder her with two gunshots to her stomach. Instead, the victim was put on trial and convicted.

This is the unmistakable hallmark of a police state. And this victim is an American citizen.

No Prosecutions, No Accountability: Another Day in Torture USA

Sometimes I am truly overwhelmed with both gratitude and awe at the amount of important work being done on the ongoing torture scandal by journalists, bloggers, attorneys, psychologists, doctors, and just plain decent people.

I wanted to highlight a few that seem specially extraordinary, or of current interest. At the close, we’ll look more closely at where the fight for prosecutions stands today. In this diary, we’ll look at a number of articles, including one that highlights the role of psychologists in planning torture, and one that compares the role of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons with the practice at Guanatanamo.

Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse is a Daily Kos regular blogger, who just finished a second installment of the DK Sunday Torture News Roundup (first installment is here). PDNC highlighted the ongoing case of Aafia Siddiqui. Siddiqui was likely a U.S. “ghost prisoner” of the CIA, and is now being held in a Texas prison, where her sanity and competency to stand trial is being determined. You must read the entire piece, for its cumulative impact, which is powerful.