Dr. Aafia Siddiqui abducted, tortured and sentenced to 86 years in prison
The failed attempt of American war-planners to create a female AlQaeda “mastermind” for the “War on Terrorism”
Aafia Siddiqui is an educated Muslim woman, a Pakistani citizen, who had earned her degrees in the US, a bachelor´s degree at Boston´s MIT and a PhD in Neuroscience at Brandeis University with the thesis “How children learn”.
By those who knew her during her years in the US she is described as a kind woman, devoutly religious, compassionate, caring for the disadvantaged, working for charities and teaching classes to small children on Sundays.
While living in the US she became mother to two children of her own.
In 2001 Aafia returned with her family to Pakistan, where her youngest child was born.
However, after a rather difficult divorce and custody battle Dr. Aafia Siddiqui decided to return to the US in late 2002 to pursuit her career. A short time thereafter in early 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice denounced Dr. Aafia Siddiqui as a so-called “Al-Qaeda facilitator.”
In March of that same year, after departing her family’s home in Karachi (Pakistan) to visit an uncle in Islamabad, the taxi that she and her three young children were traveling in was stopped; they were forcibly removed, and then disappeared without a trace. (The two oldest, Ahmed and Maryam, are American citizens by birth. Suleman, who was only six months old at the time of their abduction, still remains missing to this day.)
In 2008, four Muslim men escaped from the American controlled prison at Bagram (Afghanistan) and recounted their observations and experiences in a series of interviews. They told stories about a Pakistani woman (known only as “Prisoner 650”) who was routinely tortured at the prison. Additional details about this mysterious woman led those in the know to suspect she might be Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
Shortly after the release of a special investigative report by British journalist Yvonne Ridley, an emaciated Aafia Siddiqui was released onto the streets of Ghazni (Afghanistan) in the company of a child she was told was Ahmed. Immediately following her release, an anonymous person called Afghan authorities to report a strange woman believed to be a suicide bomber hanging around the governor’s compound. Aafia was soon re-arrested by Afghan authorities and taken to a police compound to await interrogation….
According to the US government, there were plans to blow up US landmarks found in her possession as well as bomb-making material.The U.S. government then
claims that shortly after American soldiers and FBI agents arrived at the compound to take Dr. Siddiqui into their custody, she charged through a curtain, grabbed a soldier’s M4 rifle off the floor, took the safety off and fired it at the U.S. personnel in the room (while screaming anti-American expletives). Aafia’s version is dramatically different, however. She testified that when she heard the voices of Americans entering the room, she immediately thought about the “secret prison,” and not wanting to go back. As she peered through the curtain for an escape route, one of the soldiers saw her and panicked. He shouted out, ‘The prisoner is free!’ – took out his sidearm and fired twice into her stomach.
After receiving emergency treatment and being stabilized, Aafia was brought to the U.S. barely alive and charged with “attempting to murder U.S. personnel” overseas..
Many people who followed the case in the US, in Pakistan and around the world agree that the charges against Aafia Siddiqui were bogus. She had been in no condition to grab and fire a gun, she was the only one who got hurt in the crowded room, neither her fingerprints nor her DNA was found on the gun, neither were there shell cases of said gun lying around in the interrogation room.
But why then, when the evidence was practically non-existent, was Aafia Siddiqui in the end convicted by the jury?
The answer is, that the jury did not convict Aafia Siddiqui of the crimes she was actually accused of, but on the implied terrorism charges she was never indicted for and could therefore never defend herself against.
From its beginning, the trial has been marked by irregularities, and the judge has gone out of his way to accommodate the prosecutors. Not a single Pakistani journalist was granted press credentials for the opening statements last Tuesday. Defense attorneys protested the robust security measures put in place during the trial, which obviously reinforces the notion that Siddiqui poses a security threat to the US.
In a clear violation of her rights, Judge Berman has repeatedly thrown Siddiqui out of the courtroom for what he called her “outbursts.” The “outbursts” were Siddiqui’s anguished claims of innocence and protests that she was tortured.
But why was she never indicted on terrorism charges?
Most likely because the fake “evidence” was even less convincing on those charges than the alleged evidence in the attempted murder case. The evidence would have never hold up in open trial and under cross-examining. But since she was never indicted on those charges, the defense could not examine the evidence.
presiding judge Berman would also rule out any testimony that would shine a light on the missing five years of secret imprisonment overseas as well as to the fate of her children during that time.
Her older son, who was about seven at the time of his abduction, has recently started to talk about his ordeal about having first been kept in isolation and then in a juvenile detention facility in Afghanistan. He also says that he saw his baby brother lying on the ground during the abduction, bleeding.
Aafia´s daughter Mariam had been in custody of Pakistan authorities since her abduction and had only recently been released to her aunt, her mother´s sister.
Most people think that charging Aafia Siddiqui with a bogus crime was an attempt to cover up what really had happened to her and her children in the five missing years.
But could there be an even more sinister motive than a mere cover-up?
Imran Khan chairman of the Pakistani political opposition party Tehreek-e-Insaf talks in an interview about the practice of former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf of selling thousands of Pakistani nationals to the American forces in 2003 and receiving payment for them.
Aafia Siddiqui was one of those people. But she also was different from most of the others in some way – she was a woman and she was educated.
In 2003 there had been world-wide protests going on against the imminent Iraq war with millions of peace activists involved. Most protesters agreed that Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator and that the Iraqi people might be better off under a different government, however, they feared for the lives of innocent civilians, especially women and children, in an American invasion.
(Of course the protesters were proven right about the loss of life. Over a million people, most of them civilians have been killed as a consequence of the American invasion and occupation so far).
Could it be, that some among the war planners decided that in order to defuse public sympathy for Muslim women and children and compassion for their plight, they needed to create a female “AlQaeda mastermind”?
And could it be that Aafia Siddiqui was chosen for that role, because she was an educated woman?
And, although her degree in neuroscience centered around child-development, still with a bit of a really long stretch, her education could have been interpreted as an ability to create biological weapons.
Aafia came to the attention of the Bush government when she worked for Islamic charities. She also was outspoken and religiously devout.
Between 2003 and 2008, when Siddiqui’s whereabouts were still unknown, the US claimed she was working on behalf of Al Qaeda. In May of 2004, she was listed by US officials as one of the seven “most wanted Al Qaeda fugitives”. The US has also spuriously claimed that she is married to Ammar al-Baluchi, who is reported to be the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the so-called “mastermind” behind the 9/11 attacks. The claim that Siddiqui was married to al-Baluchi was based solely on coerced statements made by Mohammed, who has been repeatedly tortured.
Sri Lankan human rights activist Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge describes torture as “a method of coercion” and as “a tool to control groups seen as a threat” but also as a method of “reprogramming the victim to succumb to an alternative exegesis of the world, proffered by the abuser“.
The tools used in Aafia Siddiqui´s case were isolation, frequent rape and a specially vicious form of psychological torture, she recounts:
that, while she was held in solitary confinement for five years, she was endlessly forced to listen to recordings of her screaming, terrified children. Her baby, Suleman, she said, was taken away from her immediately, never to be seen again. She said her daughter Mariam was occasionally shown to her, but only as an obscure figure behind a sheet of opaque glass
Since Mariam never was in US custody, this showing Aafia her “daughter” in a way she couldn´t recognize her, was another mind-game typical for psychological torture.
If the five years of tortue were used as a reprogramming tool, then the objective would have been for Siddiqui not only signing a fake confession of being an “AlQaeda mastermind” but also actually believing in it herself.
And then in 2008 she was deemed to be ready for being presented to the world in this role. Or maybe her release from secret detention was triggered by the publicity the journalist Yvonne Ridley gave to her disappearance.
But something went wrong with the original plan.
Siddiqui was released into the streets of an Afghan city and immidiately re-captured – using a conveniently placed anonymous phone call warning about a possible female suicide bomber hanging around public offices. However, instead of playing the role forced on her, Aafia Siddiqui tried to escape and was shot and severely injured. After she recovered sufficiently to be able to talk again she denied any charges of being an “AlQaeda” member or planner.
And now the planners had a problem, since the case against her would have rested totally on her confession.
Although US authorities consistently denied having had Siddiqui in custody during the “missing” five years, the very condition she was in, when she was rearrested, makes her claim that she had been imprisoned and tortured more than believable.
Siddiqui’s appearance has changed markedly since 2002, according to her lawyers. She has suffered a broken nose, is deathly pale, and extremely frail, weighing about 100 pounds. When she arrived in the US, she was suffering from acute trauma, according to her lawyers, who were outraged that she did not immediately receive urgently needed medical attention. Siddiqui had been suffering from agonizing pain from the wounds she had sustained in Afghanistan and was slumped over in her wheelchair when she arrived in court in August of 2008.
Also in light of her condition, the claim that Siddiqui had spend the missing years at some secret “AlQaeda” location seems totally ridiculous.
Siddiqui was an educated woman from a relatively wealthy Pakistani background.
If she had been a high-level “AlQaeda” organizer, would she have been treated in that manner?
Would a woman from a wealthy background voluntarily live for five years under conditions of inadequate food and lack of other necessities?
Would a young mother voluntarily have taken her children to a secret “AlQaeda” location, where she is preparing for war?
And so without a confession, Siddiqui could no longer be charged with terrorist activity. For if she had been charged, the claims could have been scrutinized by the defense.
Instead the charges were implied in other ways by the prosecution, intimidating the jury. And now, without being indicted for terrorist activities, Siddiqui would still be convicted of those charges.
And those false allegations against her could still be used as a propaganda tool for the “War on Terror“, which in reality is a war on Islamic countries as part of a geo-strategic game.
Initially Aafia Siddiqui´s mental competency to stand trial was drawn into question.
While in US custody, waiting since 2008 for her trial and subsequently her sentencing, she surely has shown signs of psychological damage caused by her ordeal.
A desperate letter she allegedly wrote can be read on the internet, where she denounces the Pakistani government for having betrayed her by handing her over to the Americans and all of Muslim society for not having defended her with their large armies and weapons arsenal.
In one court session Aafia quoted from the Quran the passages where Jesus denounced the Pharisees as hypocrites and prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem (which actually happened in the year 70 AD). This passages can also be found in the New Testament of the Bible, b.t.w.
Her lawyer saw this quoting of scripture as one of the signs of insanity and made those points in court.
Still Aafia Siddiqui was judged competent to stand trial and an insanity plea was ruled out.
Declaring Aafia Siddiqui insane might have been convenient for US authorities.
However,if she had been acquitted on grounds of insanity and locked up in a mental institution, she might eventually have been released. And then she might have been able to freely tell her story to the world and be believed. Instead of a propaganda tool for the phony “War on Terrorism” she might have become a symbol for the horrific crimes committed in this war and for the suffering of its victims.
The American political elites did not want to risk that and hence instead of declaring Dr. Aafia Siddiqui insane the crazy sentence of 86 years in prison was given to her, for having neither killed nor hurt anybody.
When finally the day of sentencing came, Aafia Siddiqui had regained her composure and displayed a deep wisdom of faith.
El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan writes:
She turned toward the witnesses in the courtroom seated behind her, and counseled her supporters to not become “emotional.” She insisted that she was content with the qadr (or will) of God. She counseled those present, and those who would get the news later, to not be angry “at anyone involved in this case.”
“I am one person, and the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, forgave all of his personal enemies. Forgive everybody in my case, please…the world is full of injustices, I am just one person…and also forgive Judge Berman.”
She also stated, “I don’t want any bloodshed…I want peace and to end all wars.”
When Judge Berman informed the defendant of her right to appeal his verdict, Aafia’s response was:
“I appeal to God…and he hears me.”
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