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Thursday, 4 February 2010
Pakistan, Our Permanent Enemy, Denounces The Aafia Siddiqui Verdict
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Pakistan, the permanent enemy of Infidels, has denounced the verdict in the trial of the Siddiqui lady, the one exaggeratedly called, repeatedly, a "neuroscientist," as if her managing to do graduate work a decade or two ago should make us think of Torsten Wiesel, and David Hubel, and unjustly un-nobelled -- because too early late - Stephen Kuffler, of Johns Hopkins and the Marine Biological Laboratories, and Stoney Beach in Woods Hole.

Here's the story: 

Pakistan denounces conviction of neuroscientist in US court

Dr Aafia Siddiqui found guilty in New York of attempting to shoot a team of US soldiers in Afghanistan in July 2008

An FBI picture of Aafia Siddiqui, released in 2003

An FBI picture of Aafia Siddiqui, released in 2003, when she was named as a suspect over links to al-Qaida operatives. Photograph: AP

Pakistanis were united in anger today after an American court convicted Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated neuroscientist previously accused of al-Qaida links, on charges of assault and attempted murder.

A New York court found Siddiqui guilty of attempting to shoot a team of American soldiers and FBI agents in an Afghan police station in July 2008. She faces up to 60 years in prison.

A foreign office spokesman said he was "dismayed" by the verdict, adding that Pakistan's president, prime minister and foreign minister had appealed to the US authorities for Siddiqui's release. The government spent $2m on top flight lawyers to defend her.

Television reports carried furious comments from ordinary Pakistanis reflecting a widely-held view that the 37-year-old mother of three, who graduated from MIT and Brandeis University, was the victim of a grave miscarriage of justice.

In Siddiqui's hometown, Karachi, her sister Fowzia struck a defiant note. "Maybe they thought there would be crying and condolences. This is not so; we are rejuvenated," she said at the family home, surrounded by cheering supporters.

Shireen Mazari, editor of the rightwing Nation newspaper, wrote that the verdict "did not really surprise anyone familiar with the vindictive mindset of the US public post-9/11". Mushahid Hussain, a prominent opposition politician, called for Siddiqui to be sent home.

One of the few dissenting opinions came from Siddiqui's ex-husband, Amjad Khan, who said his ex-wife was "reaping the fruit of her own decision.

"Her family has been portraying Aafia as a victim. We would like the truth to come out," he said.

Hard facts have been elusive in one of the most intriguing and murky cases to emerge from the Bush administration-era "war on terror". It started in March 2003 when Siddiqui and her three children mysteriously disappeared from Karachi, probably picked up by Pakistani intelligence.

What happened next is hotly contested. Siddiqui's supporters, led by the British campaigner Yvonne Ridley, insist she was sent to Bagram airfield north of Kabul, where she was detained and tortured by US forces.

Sceptics say she was probably on the run in Pakistan, associating with Islamist extremists. In 2004 the FBI named Siddiqui as one of seven senior al-Qaida figures plotting to attack America, which earned her the nickname "Lady al-Qaida" in the US media.

But few of those events were examined in the trial, which concentrated on a narrow sequence of events in an Afghan police station in July 2008, when Siddiqui dramatically resurfaced.

The prosecution claimed that Siddiqui seized a US soldier's M-4 rifle and opened fire, before being shot in the stomach and arrested.

Notably, she was not charged with terrorism-related crimes or al-Qaida links, and after yesterday's guilty verdict was announced, defence lawyer Charles Swift said the case had been decided on "fear not facts".

The prosecution could produce little forensic evidence to support its case; with experts unable to produce incriminating bullet cases or fingerprints on the weapon Siddiqui allegedly fired.

Instead the jury appeared to have been swayed by statements from at least seven witnesses, including an Afghan translator and several US soldiers.

Jurors may also have been swayed by Siddiqui's erratic behaviour. The diminutive defendant, who appeared in court with her face mostly veiled, frequently made shouted outbursts that caused guards to hustle her back to her cell.

She said her case was been orchestrated by unspecified "Jews" and demanded that no person of Jewish descent be allowed to sit on the panel of jurors. After the guilty verdict was announced she cried out: "This is a verdict coming from Israel and not from America." She is due to be sentenced in May.

The hearing left many contentious questions about the enigmatic neuroscientist unanswered – particularly the fate of her missing children.

Siddiqui's oldest son, Ahmed, resurfaced alongside his mother in Afghanistan in 2008. He now lives in Karachi with Fowzia Siddiqui, who has not allowed him to speak publicly of his experience.

But the whereabouts of the other two children – Mariam, 11, and Suleman, 7 – remains a mystery. Their father, Amjad Khan, has called for an inquiry into their whereabouts.

"We would like the three governments to come up with a joint report to lay down the truth," he said. "Most of all we are concerned about the two kids – where they are, who is holding them, and why."

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Posted on 02/04/2010 10:21 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Comments
4 Feb 2010
Send an emailTina Trent

"Shireen Mazari, editor of the rightwing Nation newspaper, wrote that the verdict 'did not really surprise anyone familiar with the vindictive mindset of the US public post-9/11'. Mushahid Hussain, a prominent opposition politician, called for Siddiqui to be sent home."

Well, there goes those "goodwill dividends" we were supposed to reap by trying terrorists in criminal courts and thus "showing the rest of the world that we abide by our system of justice."





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