Aafia Siddiqui

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Aafia Siddiqui
Aafia.jpg
Dr Aafia Siddiqui at her graduation
Born March 2, 1972
Victim of • Indefinite detention
• torture
• extraordinary rendition
Wikipedia page Aafia Siddiqui
Aafia Siddiqui is an American-educated Pakistani cognitive neuroscientist, tortured and raped for years by US forces, now serving a life sentence after a trial of a highly questionable nature.

Dr Siddiqui is the victim of the most appalling catalogue of extended physical and sexual abuse perpetrated during the 7 years (as of August 2010) of her captivity by the US Military and its Pakistani Intelligence Services functionaries. She still has no idea what has happened to her husband and two of her children, the youngest of whom was a ten month old infant at the time of her abduction in Karachi.

Disappearance

According to Aafia’s mother, Aafia left their home in Gulshan-e-Iqbal in a Metro-cab on 28 March, 2003 to catch a flight to Rawalpindi, but never reached the airport. In February 2010 Aafia’s eldest son returned to the scene and described how, when he, his mother and siblings came out of their home, fifteen to twenty people, including a ‘white lady’ and members of the ISI, were waiting in three to four vehicles on the next street and subsequently kidnapped them. Aafia was placed into one black car and the crying children into another. She described to her lawyer that she was immediately hooded and drugged. When she awoke she was tied to a gurney in a place that could not have been Karachi because the air was very dry. Aafia’s lawyer Elaine Sharpe, described how Aafia’s baby, Suleman, was believed to have been killed during the arrest. Dr Siddiqui was later shown a picture of her baby, lying in a pool of blood. It is not known if Suleman is alive.

Secret Detention

Aafia claims that she was kidnapped by the Pakistani intelligence services with her children and transferred into US custody. She further alleges that she was detained in a series of secret prisons for five years during which time she was repeatedly tortured and raped. Aafia’s claim is substantiated by former Bagram detainees who affirmed the presence of a female detainee of Pakistani origin at Bagram, with the prisoner ID “650”. The International Committee for the Red Cross also confirmed that a woman had been detained at Bagram. Immediately after his release from Guantanamo in 2009, ex-Bagram detainee, Binyam Mohamed declared that the woman he saw in Bagram, with the prison no. 650, was indeed Aafia Siddiqui. Aafia's lawyers, Elaine Sharpe and Elizabeth Fink, have corroborated her allegations of gross abuse by stating publicly that she had "been through years of detention, whose interrogators were American, who endured treatment fairly characterised as horrendous" and that she had been "tortured".

The US has previously denied the presence of female detainees in Bagram and that Aafia was ever held there, bar for medical treatment (after they shot her) in July 2008.

"Re-Arrest" in Afghanistan

On 7 July 2008, a press conference led by British journalist Yvonne Ridley, in Pakistan resulted in mass international coverage of Aafia’s case as her disappearance was questioned by the media and political figures in Pakistan. Within weeks, the US administration reported that she had been arrested by Afghani forces along with her 13 year old son, Ahmed Siddiqui, outside the governor of Ghazni’s compound, allegedly with manuals on explosives and ‘dangerous substances in sealed jars’ on her person.

Extradition to the US

On Monday 4 August 2008, federal prosecutors in the US confirmed that Aafia Siddiqui had been extradited to the US from Afghanistan where they alleged she had been detained since mid-July 2008. They further allege that whilst in custody she fired at US officers (none being injured) and was herself shot twice in the process. Aafia confirmed during her trial that she was hiding behind a curtain in the prison, as the US claim, with the intent of escaping as she feared being returned to a secret prison, but categorically denied picking up the gun or attempting to shoot anyone.

The Charges

Dr Siddiqui was charged on multiple counts of assault and attempting to murder her interrogators. Specifically that she, a frail 100 lb female alone in a room among seven of her captors (three US Army officers, two interpreters, two FBI agents) snatched an assault rifle from one of them, opened fire at close range but hit nobody, whilst she herself was shot twice in the stomach by returned fire.

The "Trial"

The so-called "trial" of Aafia Siddiqui began Tuesday 19 January 2010, in a Manhattan federal courtroom. Prior to the jury entering the courtroom, Aafia turned to onlookers saying; "This isn't a fair court, (...) Why do I have to be here? (...) There are many different versions of how this happened," referring to the alleged shooting.

Three government witnesses testified on the opening day of the trial; Army Capt. Robert Snyder, John Threadcraft, a former army officer and John Jefferson, an FBI agent. All were stationed in Afghanistan at the time of the alleged assault and murder attempt.

During the trial, while Snyder testified that Aafia had been arrested with a handwritten note outlining plans to attack the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge and Wall Street, Aafia disrupted the proceedings with a loud outburst aimed at Snyder, after, which she proclaimed her innocence stating; "Since I'll never get a chance to speak, if you were in a secret prison.. where children were tortured... This is no list of targets against New York. I was never planning to bomb it. You're lying."

The verdict

On 3 February 2010, Dr. Siddiqui was found guilty on all counts, despite the following:

  • The court proceedings were flawed, and limited to the incident in Ghazni, which itself lacked concrete evidence.
  • It is still unexplained how a frail, 110 pound woman, confronted with three US army officers, two interpreters and two FBI agents managed to assault three of them, snatch a rifle from one of them, open fire at close range, hit no one, but she herself was shot twice in the stomach.
  • There were no fingerprints on the gun.
  • There was no gunshot residue from the gun.
  • There were no bullet holes in the walls from that particular gun.
  • There were no bullets cases or shells in the area from the specified gun.
  • The testimony of the government’s six eyewitnesses contradicted each other.
  • The statements Aafia made to FBI agent Angela Sercer were made whilst she was under 24 hour surveillance by FBI agents in the hospital at Bagram, with her arms and legs tied to a bed for weeks, several types of medication, sleep-deprived and at the mercy of the agent for food, water and in order to relieve herself. Sercer did not identify herself to Aafia as a FBI agent. The use of these statements in court were objected to by the defence on the basis of ‘Miranda laws’ which mandate that a detainee must be informed of their rights, have access to an attorney, or in the case of international law, consular staff and law enforcement officials must identify themselves. Despite this the judge denied the motion and allowed this to form part of the questioning.
  • Aafia’s disappearance, torture and missing children were not addressed at all during the court case.

The sentence

On September 23 in federal court, US District Court Judge Richard Berman sentenced political prisoner Dr Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years in prison! Outrage is an appropriate response to what on any reasonable measure represents a truly GROSS and gargantuan miscarriage of justice, compounding what she's already endured following her March 30, 2003 abduction, imprisonment, torture, prosecution, and conviction on bogus charges.

In modern times, she is perhaps THE most aggrieved of the myriad victims of American military and judicial depravity. Given a virtual life sentence for a crime she didn't and couldn't possibly have committed.

Wikileaks Afghan War Diaries

The incident in which Dr Siddiqui is alleged to have been "re-taken" into custody in Afghanistan on 18 July 2008 and to have then committed the offense for which she has now been sentenced to 86 years in prison, is described in one of the 70,000 or so leaked reports published by Wikileaks. The report does NOT say Dr Siddiqui fired the gun she is alleged to have snatched and fired, merely that she "Pointed" it:

UPDATE: 18 1300Z, WHILE BEING QUESTIONED, THE FEMALE GOT A HOLD OF A WEAPON, POINTED THE WEAPON AT THE INVESTIGATORS AND AN INVESTIGATOR SHOT THE FEMALE IN SELF PROTECTION. FEMALE WILL BE MEDEVACED TO ORGUN-E.

FEMALE WILL BE ESCORTED BY 4 X RED CURRAHEE SCOUTS AND 2 X FBI AGENTS. [1]

The report was not released by the military so that it was unavailable as evidence in Dr Siddiqui's defense.

Dr Siddiqui's Daughter

In April 2010, a 12 year old girl was left outside the resident of Fowzia Siddiqui in Karachi by unidentified men claiming she was the missing daughter of Aafia Siddiqui. Although initially it was thought that she was not Aafia's daughter, following DNA tests conducted by the Pakistani government, the Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed that the tests proved that the child was indeed Aafia's daughter, Maryam, and that her DNA matched that of Ahmed Siddiqui (Aafia's eldest son) and their father, Amjad Khan. Dr Fowzia intended to carry out their own independent investigation to confirm the girl's identity. In a press conference Senate Committee for Interior Chairman, Senator Talha Mehmood reported that Maryam Siddiqui was recovered from Bagram airbase in the custody of an American - in the Urdu-language press, an American soldier - called "John". He also said that she had been kept for seven years in a 'cold, dark room' in Bagram airbase.

A statement by Gareth Peirce in support of Aafia Siddiqui

The most disturbing case of them all

Perhaps the most disturbing case of all, amongst the many thousands which have caused us horror over the past eight and a half years, is that of Aafia Siddiqui. Since the time of her reported arrest and the extraordinary decision that she should be transported across the world for trial and not where she was claimed to have been arrested, every aspect has smacked of implausibility, reminding us of the false police accounts here of the early 1970s, where nothing had the ring of truth, but nevertheless only too easily juries would convict the innocent. A different nationality, a different religion, a different appearance: once the allegation of “terrorist” is attached, it must seem safer to the patriotic juror to convict, however unconvincing the prosecution’s evidence.

By a coincidence of timing, a number of men in this country have, for the past five years or more, been contesting their extraditions to the USA, some of them destined for trial in the same Federal District Court in Manhattan as Aafia Siddiqui. That means they have come to investigate and realise the true horror of the circumstances in which a defendant who awaits trial under Special Administrative Measures is held in the USA: entirely isolated, in a cell just 7 feet by 12 feet with a moulded concrete bunk. Food is delivered through a slot in the door. No contact with another person. Never to see the light of day. Even the strongest and fittest would be unable to do justice to themselves, even in the fairest of proceedings. No wonder, faced with the further spectre of the same grim solitary confinement continuing forever (with sentences of 100 years or more), some 97 percent of defendants in the USA plead guilty in an attempt to avoid the worst of the most severe consequences if convicted.

This is a case that cries out for a return, and with the greatest speed, to her own country now for Aafia Siddiqui.

Some day, maybe many years from now, shocking truths may see the light of day. But it is our collective experience that they are not meant ever to do so and that many innocent men and women spend their lives, and some die, before that day ever comes.

I and my colleagues lend whatever support we can offer, to achieving Aafia Siddiqui’s return to her own country, to normality, to freedom, and to a return by those with responsibility, to sanity, to justice and compassion.

Gareth Peirce
2nd May 2010  

Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Protests On Aafia Siddiqui Dayarticle28 March 2010Andy Worthington
Seven Days for Seven Yearsarticle30 April 2010Andy Worthington
The Mystery of Dr Aafia Siddiquiarticle2009-11-24Declan Walsh


References

  1. Wikileaks 'Afghan War Diary' report

External Sites

Facts about "Aafia Siddiqui"
Born onMarch 2 + and 1972 +
DescriptionAafia Siddiqui is an American-educated Pakistani cognitive neuroscientist, tortured and raped for years by US forces, now serving a life sentence after a trial of a highly questionable nature. +
Display docTypeWikiSpooks Page +
Display lifespanBorn March 2, 1972 +
Has fullPageNameAafia Siddiqui +
Has fullPageNameeAafia_Siddiqui +
Has imageFile:Aafia.jpg +
Has image2File:Aafia.jpg +
Has objectClassPerson +
Has objectClass2Person +
Has revisionSize14,254 +
Has revisionUserRobin +
Has wikipediaPagehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aafia_Siddiqui +
Has wikipediaPage2http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aafia_Siddiqui +
Victim ofIndefinite detention +, Torture + and Extraordinary rendition +