New York, Jan.16 : Detained Pakistani neuroscientist, Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is currently in custody of the US on murder charges, has said that she believes that Israel was the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks on America.
Siddqui, whose trial is set to begin next week, while interrupting judge Richard Berman during a quizzing session of potential jurors, said she was not associated with the 9/11 incident.
The next question will be on anti-Semitism, Israel was behind 9/11. That's not anti-Semitic. I have nothing to do with 9/11, she said.
The case against Siddiqui, 37, who has been charged for allegedly shooting at her US interrogators in Afghanistan in July last year, would begin in the Manhattan Federal Court on January 19.
Berman later said that anyone who disrupts proceedings will be removed, but added that Siddiqui has a right to be present for her trial and would be allowed to return, The Nation reports.
Copyright Asian News International (ANI)
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui (Urdu: ..... .....) (born March 2, 1972) is an MIT and Brandeis alumna, originally from Karachi, Pakistan. She is currently facing trial for terrorist related offenses in the USA.
In August 2008 she was charged in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for assaulting, and attempting to kill, United States personnel while in Afghanistan as well as alleged connections with al-Qaeda. Her trial is due to start on January 19, 2010.
Aafia Siddiqui was born in Karachi, Pakistan. She moved to Texas in 1990, and after attending the University of Houston for her freshman year, transferred to MIT. In 1992, as a sophomore at MIT, Siddiqui received a Carroll L. Wilson Award for her research proposal "Islamization in Pakistan and its Effects on Women". As a junior, Siddiqui received a $1,200 fellowship through MIT's LINKS program to help clean up Cambridge elementary school playgrounds. During her undergraduate career, she lived in McCormick Hall and worked at the MIT libraries. She graduated from MIT in 1995.
In 1996, a year after she graduated, Siddiqui wrote an article for the MIT Information Systems newsletter about the File Transfer Protocol and the then-emerging World Wide Web.
Siddiqui was married to anesthesiologist Muhammad Amjad Khan, until their divorce in October 2002. They have 3 children: Ahmed (b. 1996), Maryam (b. 1998), and Suleman (b. 2002). At the time of her disappearence, she was working at the Aga Khan University in Karachi. She had, however, expressed interest in working in the United States in an e-mail addressed to her professor, Robert Sekuler, at Brandeis University, citing lack of options in Karachi for women of her academic background. A few days later, she disappeared.. Siddiqui is reported by the U.S. government to be now married to Ammar al-Baluchi.
In 1999, while living in Boston, Siddiqui and Khan founded the nonprofit Institute of Islamic Research and Teaching. She attended a mosque outside of the city, where she stored Islamic literature that she distributed. She went on to graduate study in neuroscience at Brandeis University, receiving a Ph.D. degree in 2001 for her dissertation, titled "Separating the Components of Imitation".
2001 money trail
Siddiqui was an account holder at Fleet National Bank in Boston. According to documents obtained by Newsweek, in 2001, Siddiqui was making regular debit card payments to an Islamic charity front, Benevolence International, which is now banned by the UN. In addition, Siddiqui was found to be active with the Al Kifah Refugee Center, another Islamic charity that was ostensibly raising funds for Bosnian orphans but that also was under federal investigation. Fleet Bank security officers began tracking a money trail from the Saudi Embassy that led to Siddiqui, resulting in more "links" that "shocked" the bank security officers, according to an investigative report in Newsweek that incorrectly identifies Siddiqui as a microbiologist.
The Boston Herald reported March 23, 2003, that until August 2001, Siddiqui lived in a Mission Hill neighborhood high-rise apartment building in Boston that was frequented by Saudi nationals. Siddiqui's specific address in the building was identified as apartment number 2008. Another Fleet Bank customer, Hatem Al Dhahri, also listed his address as number 2008 in that same building. Al Dhahri and Siddiqui's accounts were both active and current in the fall of 2001, but it is unknown whether they shared the apartment at the same time. A Saudi Embassy spokesman said that Al Dhahri has been interrogated by the FBI and has denied any knowledge of Siddiqui.
Subsequent to the Fleet National Bank investigation, Aafia Siddiqui's husband was found to be purchasing high-tech military equipment. According to Newsweek, FBI documents also stated that Khan, Siddiqui.s husband, had purchased body armor, night-vision goggles and a variety of military manuals that were supposed to be sent to Pakistan. Fleet National Bank accounts associated with the couple also showed "major purchases" from U.S. airlines and hotels in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and North Carolina as well as an $8,000 international wire transfer on December 21, 2001, to Habib Bank, the largest bank in Pakistan.
Newsweek reported that Fleet National Bank investigators discovered that one account used by the Boston-area couple showed repeated debit card purchases from stores that "specialize in high-tech military equipment and apparel", including Black Hawk Industries in Chesapeake, Virginia, and Brigade Quartermasters in Georgia. (Black Hawk's website advertises grips, mounts and parts for AK-47s and other military-assault rifles as well as highly specialized combat clothing, including vests designed for bomb disposal).
Allegations from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence asserts that their office has associated Siddiqui with Guantanamo captive Ammar al-Baluchi
In 2002, 'Ammar directed Aafia Siddiqui.a U.S.-educated neuroscientist and al-Qa'ida facilitator.to travel to the United States to prepare paperwork to ease Majid Khan's deployment to the United States. 'Ammar married Siddiqui shortly before his detention.
Al-Baluchi is now held in extrajudicial detention in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.
Since her arrest, there wasn't much information available about her personal views on Terrorism and Al Qaeda. Her ex husband finally broke his silence about his ex wife on February 18, 2009, in an exclusive interview. .I was aware of Aafia.s violent personality and extremist views and suspected her involvement in Jihadi activities. My fear later proved to be true when during Uzair Paracha.s trial in the U.S. in 2004, the real purpose of Aafia.s trip to the U.S. (between December 23, 2002, and January 3, 2003) was revealed... She asked for divorce when he refused to move to Afghanistan with her for Jihad. It was also revealed in the interview that she used to physically abuse him.
Disappearance and alleged arrest
On March 1, 2003, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the original 22 FBI Most Wanted Terrorists, was captured in Pakistan. Siddiqui may have drawn the FBI's attention when she was named by the captured senior al-Qaida operative, as CNN reported on April 3, 2003. According to Newsweek, FBI Agents also found evidence that she had rented a post office box to help another Baltimore, Maryland-based individual alleged to have been an al-Qaeda contact who had been assigned by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to blow up underground gasoline storage tanks.
At that time, the Boston Herald also reported her being linked to the American resident Adnan El Shukrijumah, "whose name surfaced among the belongings of" Mohammed. She attracted international attention at that time as the first woman to be sought by the FBI in connection with its pursuit of al-Qaeda.
On March 29, 2003, United Press International reported that the FBI purportedly believed Siddiqui may be a "fixer" for al-Qaeda, moving money to support terrorist operations.
In April 2003, the Press Trust of India reported that she had been arrested at a relative's home in Karachi after returning to Qaid-e-Azam International Airport from an overseas trip, and was being questioned by the FBI. U.S. intelligence sources confirmed that Siddiqui was "essentially in the hands of the FBI now".
When her uncle began speaking about her alleged arrest, the FBI denied having any knowledge of her detention or whereabouts; and held to that statement for the next four years. On 28 February 2007 Human Rights Watch said that Siddiqui "may have once been held" in a CIA black site.
The family of Aafia Siddqiui asked attorney Elaine Whitfield Sharp of Marblehead, Massachusetts, to serve as their spokeswoman in the media. She had filed cases in U.S. courts since her disappearance in 2003.
Summer 2004 terror alert
Leading up to the summer of 2004, several scheduled high-profile national events had become widely predicted as likely targets for a potential major upcoming terror attack. One of the first among them was the 2004 Democratic National Convention, scheduled for Boston, July 26 through July 29, 2004. Aafia Siddiqui had lengthy ties to the Boston area, and that connection may have been what brought her to the forefront of the FBI's attention a year after her disappearance from the area.
On May 26, 2004, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller announced that reports indicated that al-Qaeda planned to attempt an attack on the United States that summer or fall. In addition, Director Mueller named Aafia Siddiqui as "an al-Qaeda operative and facilitator", and as one of seven al-Qaeda associates who were being sought in connection with the possible terrorist threats in the United States, though they did not have any reason at that time to believe that the seven were working in concert. Ashcroft went on to say of the seven that they all posed "a clear and present danger to America, and should all be considered armed and dangerous." The other alleged terrorists named on that date were Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Amer El-Maati, Adam Yahiye Gadahn, Abderraouf Jdey, and Adnan G. El Shukrijumah. The first two had been listed as FBI Most Wanted Terrorists since 2001, indicted for their roles in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings. Jdey was already on the FBI's "Seeking Information" wanted list since January 17, 2002, to which Siddiqui and the other three were added as well.
Despite the more serious allegations made by the Director on May 26, 2004, about Aafia Siddiqui, her FBI Seeking Information Alert continues to state only, "Although the FBI has no information indicating this individual is connected to specific terrorist activities, the FBI would like to locate and question this individual." In contrast, the other four alleged al-Qaeda associates who had been named along with Siddiqui by the FBI Director on that day are all, "being sought in connection with possible terrorist threats against the United States", according to the specific text in their Seeking Information Alerts.
In the press conference, the Director further emphasized that "Each of these seven individuals is known to have a desire and the ability to undertake planning, facilitation and attack against the United States whether it be within the United States itself or overseas." However, no Justice Department explanation has been given for why Siddiqui remains listed as "wanted for questioning".not for terrorist activities.(That terrorist action never occurred; Nor was a credible threat of such ever made public.) The announcement sparked fear that the face of terrorism was changing, i.e., that women and children were traveling incognito to accomplish terrorist goals.
Allegations of handling conflict diamonds for al-Qaeda
Following the capture of A. K. Ghailani on 25 July 2004, several press reports described the participation of Siddiqui, in the acquisition and movement of diamonds in Liberia The Boston Globe reported that Siddiqui had stayed in Monrovia for one week at the invitation of Charles Taylor, to compile a report for her superiors in Pakistan. 
"The Gray Lady of Bagram"
On July 7, 2008, the Daily Times of Pakistan quoted British journalist Yvonne Ridley that a Pakistani woman had been held in solitary confinement, for years, in the Bagram Theater internment facility.
Her identity remains unconfirmed. She has been nicknamed "the gray lady of Bagram". However Ridley speculates that she is Aafia Siddiqui.
Moazzam Begg and several other former captives have reported that a female prisoner, prisoner 650, was held in Bagram. According to The Daily Times and Adnkronos news service the former captives report she has lost her sanity, and cries all the time.Ridley wrote about Bagram's "Prisoner 650" and her ordeal of torture and repeatedly being raped for over four years. "The cries of (this) helpless woman echoed (with such torment) in the jail that (it) prompted prisoners to go on hunger strike." Ridley called her a "gray lady (because) she (was) almost a ghost, a spectre whose cries and screams continue to haunt those who heard her. This would never happen to a Western woman."
In March 2008, one of the released British prisioners of Bagram, Binyam Mohamed stated in an interview with Moazzam Begg that the woman wearing a t-shirt with the number "650", that he encountered at Bagram, was Aafia Siddiqui by referring to the picture of Aafia, which Begg had shown him earlier; "Basically, nobody talked to her in the facility, and she was held in isolation, where . she was only brought out to the main facility just to use the toilet. But all I knew about her was that she was from Pakistan, and that she had studied, or she had lived in America. And the guards would talk a lot about her, and I did actually see her picture when I was here a few weeks ago, and I would say she.s the very person I saw in Bagram."
Iqbal Jaafree, a Pakistani lawyer, petitioned a Pakistani court for a hearing to determine Siddiqui's location.
According to a May 2009 report filed by Leslie Powers, a Psychologist who has examined Aafia, she believes that Aafia was living at large in Pakistan and Afghanistan for portions of the five year period human rights critics believe she was in clandestine U.S. custody. According to Powers:
* The FBI claims Aafia said she worked at the Karachi Institute of Technology in 2005;
* Her husband has claimed he saw Aafia and her children on several occasions during the 2003.2008 period;
* Aafia described looking for her husband in Afghanistan in the winter of 2007.
Powers wrote: "While her accounts of her time are incomplete, her statements and other facts gathered seem to corroborate that she was not held captive from 2003 until 2008"
American account of second capture
On 4 August 2008, shorty after press rumors suggested that Siddiqui had been in Bagram for the last five years, the U.S. government announced that Aafia Siddiqui was arrested on charges related to her attempted murder and assault of United States officers and employees in Afghanistan. mirror
The U.S. claims that Siddiqui was not captured in March 2003, that she was arrested on July 17, 2008, outside the home of the Governor of Ghazni. The U.S. account of the July 18, 2008, shooting is that FBI agents, interpreters, and several GIs entered arrived at the Afghan facility where Siddiqui was being held. The personnel entered a second floor meeting room.unaware that Siddiqui was being held there, unsecured, behind a curtain.
The Warrant Officer took a seat and placed his United States Army M-4 rifle on the floor next to the curtain . According to the U.S. account the GIs set down their weapons, whereupon Siddiqui burst from behind a curtain, grabbed an M-4, and opened fire. One interpreter who was accompanying the officers seized the firearm from her.
U.S. officials claim they have no idea where Siddiqui has been in the five years since she was captured on March 17, 2003.
Siddiqui arrived in New York on August 4, 2008, and was presented before a United States Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Siddiqui refused to accept the charges. Siddiqui's lawyer stated that no one can believe the FBI story and that Siddiqui had actually been captured in Karachi, Pakistan along with three of her children.
Huma Yusuf, writing in Pakistan's International News, argued that Siddiqui's reappearance highlights the importance for the restoration of the Judges President Musharref had controversially fired in 2007. Prior to their dismissal and house arrest the Supreme Court of Pakistan was conducting inquiries into the extrajudicial detention and disappearance of over 500 Pakistanis, including Siddiqui.
On August 8, 2008, the Daily Times reported that Aafia was captured in Ghazni with her eldest son, Muhammad Ahmed. The report stated that documents existed that confirmed that Affia and her children had been captured in March 2003.
Sources close to the matter claimed the Interior Ministry asked the provincial home departments for detailed reports on missing persons a couple of weeks ago, and that the list prepared by the Sindh Home Department included Dr Siddiqui and her three children, Maryam, Ahmed and Suleman. The report confirmed MI detained Dr Siddiqui and her three children in Gulshan-e-Iqbal on March 30, 2003, later handing her over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Afghan account of the second capture
Reuters reports that Afghan officials offered an account at odds with the American account. According to Reuters Afghan police apprehended Siddiqui and a teenage boy in Ghazni because they triggered suspicions near the Governor's mansion. Reuters reported that the next day local police officials had a dispute with an American official over her custody. U.S soldiers then proceeded to disarm the Afghan police, at which time Aafia who was not armed and not resisting, was shot by a GI:
"U.S. soldiers then proceeded to disarm the Afghan police at which point Siddiqui approached the Americans complaining of mistreatment by the police. The U.S. troops, the officer said, 'thinking that she had explosives and would attack them as a suicide bomber, shot her and took her.'"
Reuters reports that Siddiqui's family believes she was raped, in addition to being tortured, while in Bagram. They did not explain how they knew of this, but say they have remained silent because of 'severe threats' to the family and belief in her innocence.
Location of Siddiqui's children
After Siddiqui re-emerged the current location of her three children, who were with her where she was believed to have first been apprehended in 2003, was the subject of speculation. Because her children were born while she was a US resident they are American citizens.
On August 9, 2008, her sister Fauzia Siddiqui said that the family had been receiving assurances from the Pakistani Government authorities that she and her children were healthy during the five years her location was unknown.
.The government had been in contact with us during the last five years and has been saying that Dr Aafia would be back in a few days. Now we have been told that all the three children were fine but looking at Aafia.s condition we fear that the children might be in danger..
On 15, 2008, Dr Siddiqui's son Ali Hassan (his real name is Muhhamad Ahmad) was transferred to Pakistani custody. According to the Globe and Mail, during a handover ceremony, an Afghan official stated:
.Under the presidential order of Hamid Karzai, we hand over Ali Hassan (Muhammad Ahmad), 12, to Pakistan authorities. We hope this step should symbolize friendly ties with our neighbouring nation Pakistan..
The Afghan authorities claim that Ali Hassan had been arrested in Afghanistan together with his mother.
The News of Pakistan reports that Siddiqui's health is very frail, over and above her recent gun-shot wound. The report quoted concerns of the Co-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Iqbal Haider, who felt the images of Siddiqui showing that her health had been so badly damaged her life was in imminent risk. The report stated that the following, though Aafia's lawyer has not communicated a confirmation, other than the note linked:
* one of her kidneys had been removed while in captivity;
* her teeth had been removed;
* her nose had been broken, and improperly reset;
* that her recent gunshot wound had been incompetently dressed, was oozing blood, leaving her clothes soaked with blood.
An August 11, 2008, Reuters report stated that she had appeared at her hearing in a wheelchair, and that her lawyers pleaded with the judge to make sure she received medical care. Reuters reports that Elizabeth Fink, one of her lawyers, told the Judge:
"She has been here, judge, for one week and she has not seen a doctor, even though they (U.S. authorities) know she has been shot."
The Reuters report stated that Siddiqui believed she had lost part of her intestines. Her lawyers told the judge they believed she was still suffering from internal bleeding. According to Reuters:
Lawyers for Siddiqui said last week she appeared confused and did not know where she had been, except to claim that she was held captive by unknown authorities in a small room.
Christopher LaVigne, one of the Prosecutors, justified withholding medical care because she was a "high security risk". The Prosecution was ordered to make sure she was seen by a doctor within 24 hours by Judge Robert Pitman.
Aafia received consular access on August 9, 2008. She is reported to have declined to have said where she had been in the five years since she disappeared in March 2003.
On July 21, 2009, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, spoke with Aafia by telephone, to assure her that the Pakistani government was making efforts on her behalf.
Reports emerged that Iqbal Jafferi filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court, which asserted that Siddiqui had ended up in U.S. custody through a U.S. bounty payment to Bilal Musharraf, the son of President Musharraf.
Refusal to appear in court in protest
Dr Aafia Siddiqui refused to appear in a New York court on Thursday, September 4, 2008, in protest against the humiliating treatment to which she is being subjected and because of her traumatised physical, mental and emotional condition. Her lawyer, Fink, gave the court a chilling description of the strip searches that Siddiqui is being made to endure every time she is visited, even by her lawyer. She refused to appear in court because she did not want to be subjected to the torture and humiliation of another strip search. Siddiqui's 10-year-old son Muhammad Ahmed was handed over by Afghan authorities in Kabul in September 2008 to Pakistani officials in Islamabad at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
On November 18, 2008, the BBC reported that Siddiqui was unfit to stand trial after a psychiatric examination was conducted at a medical centre in Fort Worth, Texas. The evaluation said she is "not currently competent to proceed as a result of her mental disease". U.S. District Judge Richard M Berman announced a conference of lawyers for November 19, which may consider the possibility of medication for Ms Siddiqui's "depression". According to International Herald Tribune, a prison psychologist had previously declared that Siddiqui suffers from severe depression, and her lawyer said "she's psychotic."
On March 26, U.S. prosecutors submitted documents to the trial court stating that two independent, government psychiatrists had determined that Siddiqui was "malingering" or faking her symptoms of mental illness. The judge, Richard M. Berman, scheduled a hearing for June 1 to determine Siddiqui's competency and set a tentative trial date for July 6.
Mental Health experts offered their opinions of her competency at a pre-trial hearing in early July 2009.
L. Thomas Kucharski, chairman of the Department of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who concluded Aafia has a delusional disorder, which included: "...the belief that the court is part of a conspiracy to have her killed, tortured and/or have her witness the torture of her children." He had been called to testify by her defense attorneys.
The Prosecution called three mental health professionals: Leslie Powers, a forensic psychologist; a Professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, psychiatrist Gregory B. Saathoff; a Professor at the University of North Carolina, Sally C. Johnson, another psychiatrist. Powers testified she did not believe that Aafia had been in U.S. custody prior to her capture in Afghanistan in July 2008. Powers based her conclusion, in part, on accounts of what FBI agents who accompanied Aafia said she said on the long flight from Pakistan to the USA. Saathoff testified that since delusions Aafia described seemed to disappear, after she was initially ruled unfit for trial, he believed the delusions were not genuine, but attempts at malingering. He testified: .She has most likely fabricated reported psychiatric symptoms.. Johnson believed that the mental health issues Aafia had originally presented with, when captured in July 2008, had all been successfully treated.
Bruce Golding, writing for the New York Post, reported that Aafia's outbursts interrupted the court over a dozen times, but that Berman simply ignored her, and encouraged witnesses to talk over top of her. According to Golding her outbursts included:
"I'd like to urge you all to take me seriously. I'm not psychotic."
"I can bring peace. I can absolutely guarantee it."
On July 29, 2009, Berman ruled that Aafia was competent to stand trial. Berman wrote Aafia had:
* "...sufficient present ability to consult with her lawyers with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and she also has a rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings against her."
* "This is an instance where a defendant may have some mental health issues but may nevertheless be competent to stand trial."
According to the Associated Press one of the three mental health experts who had initially offered the opinion she was not competent to stand trial, was later to reverse herself. Aafia's appearance in the court included several emotional outbursts.
Human rights activists and organizations have criticized the detention of Aafia. Attorney Annette Lamereaux questioned the FBI and the basis of the arrest; "If the best they can do to make this country safe is to go after a 32-year-old mother of three, then we're all in a lot of trouble". Others i.e. Joanne Mariner, attorney with Human Rights Watch in New York have also addressed the strange case of Aafia irrespective of what story people choose to believe.
The pending courtcase has also drawn criticism in light of lack of forensic and physical evidence, alleged prejudice of the presiding judge Richard Berman, the lack of proof of alleged terror affiliation and planning.
In his commentary on the Bollywood film New York, Aijaz Zaka Syed, writing in the Khaleej Times, cited Aafia Siddiqui as an example of those swept up without reasonable access to judicial protections. The film focusses around South Asians, living in New York City, post-9/11, who were forced to falsely denounce one another by U.S. security officials.
Current (since January 2010)
Aafia's trial is pending and her next hearing is scheduled for 19 January, 2010 in New York. Aafia has declared that she will boycott the trial in January 2010 because she considers herself innocent of all charges, which she maintains she can prove, but refuses to do that in court. On January 11, Aafia told a judge that wanted to fire her legal team and complained about "injustices in this court". Jury selection was scheduled for Wednesday January 13 in federal court of Manhattan. It was reported on January 14, 2010, that Aafia told, addressing the Manhattan federal judge Richard Berman, that she would not cooperate with her attorneys repeatedly denouncing the proceeding. She said she does not want Jews on the jury and demanded that all prospective jurors be DNA-tested and excluded from the jury at her trial in New York; "If they have a Zionist or Israeli background . . . they are all mad at me,. .I have a feeling everyone here is them.subject to genetic testing. They should be excluded if you want to be fair" . She further stated lack of trust in the judge and that she is "boycotting the trial...there are too many injustices. I.m out of this". Following the outburst she was removed from the court but will be allowed back as she is entitled to be present at her trial. A jury selection was completed on Thursday and open arguements will commence Tuesday. On her comments regarding jury selection, Aafia's legal team stated that Aafia's incarceration had damaged her mind.
In her debut as a contributor to Fox News, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin admitted Tuesday that leading up to her 2008 vice presidential debate she thought Iraq may have been behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.