‘Unidentified’ men raid residence of Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s sister
KARACHI: A group of unidentified men raided a residence of Dr. Fouzia Siddiqui, sister of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui – a Pakistani scientist who is imprisoned in the United States – and questioned them about her family.
According to details, unknown armed persons allegedly barged into the house of Dr. Fouzia.
Her family said the men questioned about children of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. The family claimed that the three men grilled the gatekeeper about Dr. Aafia’s children and when he refused to give details, they beat up the guard and trussed him up.
When informed, Rangers personnel reached the spot and collected information about the men who broke into Dr. Fouzia’s house.
Dr Aafia Siddiqui – a 42-year-old mother of three with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University, Siddiqui is serving an 86-year sentence in a prison medical center in Texas. A jury in 2010 convicted her of attempting to shoot and kill a group of FBI agents, U.S. soldiers and interpreters who were about to interrogate her for alleged links to al Qaeda.
Siddiqui already lost one appeal. In 2012, an appeals court rejected arguments that her trial was unfair and upheld her conviction.
Her latest appeal, filed in May 2014, argues that Siddiqui received an unfair trial because she was not allowed to fire defense lawyers who were paid by the Pakistan government, and that U.S. prosecutors failed to turn over important evidence.
According to Reuters, Siddiqui was wanted by the FBI in 2003 for questioning for possible ties to al Qaeda and was detained by Pakistani authorities.
U.S. officials alleged that when the Afghan police captured Siddiqui in July 2008, she was carrying two pounds (900 grams) of sodium cyanide, which releases a highly toxic gas, notes that referred to a mass casualty attack, and a list of U.S. landmarks.
Siddiqui was never charged with links to terrorism. The FBI agents, U.S. soldiers and interpreters said that as they were about to interrogate her at an Afghan police compound in Ghazni, Afghanistan, she grabbed a rifle and began shooting at them. None of them were wounded, but Siddiqui was shot in the abdomen when they returned fire.
Siddiqui’s family says she was raped and tortured at the U.S. military’s Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have said they found no evidence of that, but Islamist militant groups say her case is an example of the worst excesses of the U.S. war on terror.
At her trial, Siddiqui’s lawyer urged an acquittal because there was no evidence the rifle had been fired. No bullets, shell casings or bullet debris were recovered and no bullet holes were detected, the lawyer said.
Prosecutors cited testimony from witnesses and said the witnesses had no motive to lie.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban asked for her release as part of a deal to free U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. In May, Bergdahl was released in a prisoner swap that freed five Taliban leaders held at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Calls for Siddiqui’s release were made by al Qaeda-linked kidnappers in Algeria in January 2013. A few months later, two Czech women who had been kidnapped in Pakistan appeared in a video demanding the scientist’s freedom in return for their release. It was not clear who was holding them.