Aafia Siddiqui: An Objective Overview – by Anas Muhammad

President Asif Ali Zardari directed the government to provide legal assistance to Dr Aafia Siddiqui, after the jury found her guilty on all seven counts. The government of Pakistan has so far spent $2 million in defense of the ‘Lady Al Qaeda’ along with enormous amount of diplomatic efforts to bring her back to Pakistan. The legal assistance and the embassy services provided to Dr. Aafia Saddiqui is unprecedented and is probably the first ever for any Pakistani citizen held in United States on charges of terrorism. It was Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts that helped expedite the trial process and assured the family of Ms. Saddiqui that there will be justice.

It is certainly a rare and a strange case, the lady that was wanted by Pakistani and American authorities in 2003 has suddenly become the most valuable person to Pakistan. She is being called “daughter of Pakistan” a label that has come from no other than the right-wing political parties. Whats even more striking is that even terrorists such as Hakumullah Mehsud labeled her “sister in Islam.”

Those right-wing politicians are playing their usual anti-American narrative, using a purely legal issue and turning it into a political theater. But surprisingly the liberal coalition government has also taken the pressure and provided, a supporter of terrorism, the sort of attention she certainly did not deserve.

Aafia and her husband, Dr Muhammad Amjad Khan, divorced a year before she had disappeared. Her husband describes her violent nature and extremist views to be the reason of their divorce. Her activities and links to world’s most wanted terrorists had gotten her and her husband on the terror watch-list. Since her husband was not involved, and did not know of her links with terrorists, he was only questioned by the American authorities but never arrested.

United States intelligence agencies have said that Ms. Siddiqui has links to at least 2 of the 14 men suspected of being high-level members of Al Qaeda who were moved to Guantánamo in September 2006. NYT

There is no doubt about her acquaintances to the terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, It was the reason she was being watched by agencies for a long time. The only reason she is not being charged under the allegations of terrorism is because, although she had intentions to, she had not yet attempted to commit an act of terror. If she didn’t have such motives, she would have never fired at an investigation officer, or have been ended up in Afghanistan after hiding for five years.

Before her arrest, U.S. authorities had called Siddiqui an al-Qaida sympathizer. She was never charged with terrorism, but prosecutors called her a grave threat who was carrying ”a road map for destruction” — bomb-making instructions and a list of New York City landmarks including the Statue of Liberty when she was captured. NYT

In order to avoid arrest she kept a low profile, and was said to be missing during the the five year period of 2003 to 2008. She was arrested, in Ghazni Afghanistan in 2008, after authorities became suspicious of her loitering outside the provincial governor’s compound. She was carrying instructions on making explosives and a list of New York landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building along with sealed bottles and glass jars filled with liquids and gels. She tried to escape the detention by shooting at the FBI officers, for which she was tried and convicted at United States District Court in Manhattan.

While in custody, on July 18, 2008, prosecutors said, Ms. Siddiqui grabbed an M4 rifle from a police station floor and fired on Army officers and F.B.I. agents. She was shot in the abdomen. NYT

It is believed that she was never arrested or tortured prior to 2008 incident. Her husband claims that the pictures that have been floating around the media with her lip badly hurt is an old picture. In an interview to The News:

He added that Dr Fowzia had similarly threatened him several years ago by taking a picture of Aafia while she was asleep after she injured her upper lip (by a milk bottle) in an accident. Dr Fowzia warned Amjad that if he tried to divorce Aafia, she would use the picture against him alleging him to be an abusive husband. “It was made to appear in the picture that Aafia was badly injured. Today, the same picture is being circulated in the media to claim that Aafia was tortured for years in Bagram,” he revealed.

Experts believe that it was her own behavior in the courtroom that contributed towards a negative perception of her. Her frequent outbursts and at times failing to cooperate with her own lawyers, ended up hurting her case. Due to her objections a few jurors had also stepped down from the bench, which leaves no room for any biases from the side of jurors.

I would suggest not wasting anymore time on this issue and let the American justice system take its course. I would also advice the Pakistani government of not spending any more taxpayer money for someone who clearly had bad intentions and is not innocent what-so-ever.



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