No issue has evoked such impassioned and divergent opinions than the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman who was found guilty on 7 counts of attempted murder and assault of U.S. Nationals by a 12 member jury in a federal court in New York City this week.
With allegations of being an Al-Qaeda operative headlining nearly every report in the American media and allegations that she was held in a secret prison and tortured for the 5 years before her capture dominating reports in the Pakistani media, the only way to get close to a “common sense” perspective is to take a look at what we actually do know and don’t know about this case.
We do know that in March of 2003 Aafia Siddiqui was a mother of 3 children who disappeared in Karachi, Pakistan as she was on her way to the airport, along with her three children.
We do know that in 2003 the children were Suleman under-6 months, Maryam-Age 3, and Ahmed-Age 7
We do know that in March 2003 she was named by the FBI as a “person of interest”.
We do know that early in March 2003 Khalid Sheik Mohammed was captured by Pakistanis, turned over to Americans, and interrogated in which he named Aafia Siddiqui as an Al Qaeda “fixer”
We do know that Khalid Sheik Mohammed was water boarded almost 100 times during his interrogation.
We do know that a little later in March 2003 Aafia Siddiqui’s ex-husband, Amjad Khan, was questioned by FBI officials and released.
We do know that at the time the couple had gone through a bitter divorce.
We do know that in 2002 Aafia Siddiqui’s husband, Amjad Khan, was questioned by the FBI for purchasing “night vision goggles” and “military manuals” over the internet and that Aafia was questioned incidentally as his wife.
We do know that Amjad Khan admitted to purchasing the equipment but said that it was for big gaming hunting for a relative and was not detained by the FBI.
We do know that the couple were having marital problems at the time which included allegations of domestic abuse.
We do know that the Siddiqui’s familiy’s claims that Aafia was a victim of domestic abuse was corroborated by friends and colleagues of Siddiqui from Brandeis
We do know that in April and May 2003 there were reports in the American media that Dr. Siddiqui was being “detained” for questioning by Pakistani authorities regarding her alleged ties to Al-Qaeda. “U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly interrogating a Pakistani woman alleged to have moved funds and assisted with logistics planning for al-Qaeda.” The NBC report makes clear that she is “not considered a member of Al-Qaeda” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xwCHha5ITM
We do know that she was considered a “person of interest” by the FBI in 2003 and wanted for questioning.
We do know that there were reports in 2003 in some Pakistani newspapers as well, that Siddiqui and her children were picked up by both Pakistani and American intelligence.
We do know that in 2004 the FBI gave a press conference in which they labeled her as one of seven most wanted “terrorist”. At that time they denied having her in their custody.
We do know that shortly after that press conference in 2004 numerous media reports accused Siddiqui of transferring diamonds to Liberia for Al Qaeda in mid June 2001, 3 months before 9/11
We do know, however, that in mid-June 2001 Aafia Siddiqui was with her husband and kids in Boston running a play group.
We do know that in 2005 former detainees at Bagram began alleging that there was a female prisoner being held at the prison who was from Pakistan.
We do know that the U.S. Government at the time denied having any women at Bagram.
We do know that in 2006 Amnesty International Reported Aafia Siddiqui as a “missing person” believed to be in U.S. Custody.
We do know that in 2007 Human Rights Watch named Aafia Siddiqui as a “missing person” possibly held in U.S. custody.
We do know that in June 2008 journalist, Yvonne Ridley, alleged that Aafia Siddiqui was prisoner 650 held for the past 5 years at a Secret Prison in Bagram
We do know that shortly after Ridley’s report in June 2008 Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the ICRC began demanding the U.S. for access to prisoner 650.
We do know that the following month in July 2008, 5 years after her initial disappearance, Aafia Siddiqui was seen on TV at a press conference in Ghazni Afghanistan with only her oldest son, in which it was reported that she was found with a terrorist’s handbag.
We do know that the handbag she was found with contained fantastically incriminating evidence including plans for “mass casualty” attacks and “how to make a dirty bomb”, along with pictures of New York Landmarks.
We do know that the next day she was shot in the abdomen by U.S. Soldiers.
We do know that when she disappeared she was a slightly heavy woman.
We do know that when she was shown in the press conference she was substantially thinner than when she disappeared.
We do know that in her arrest photograph taken by the Afghan National Police she looked beaten. Her nose was altered and her teeth were missing.
We do not know why she was considered a “person of interest” by the FBI; why she was labeled a “wanted terrorist”; or why she was alleged to be a “Al Qaeda facilitator”, by the FBI
We do know that the U.S. Government did not prosecute her with attempting to commit acts of terrorism or any connections to Al Qaeda or the Taliban.
We do know that the U.S. government has chosen to keep crucial information about her case classified.
We do not know where the two younger missing children are.
We do know that during the trial all the New York newspapers had nearly daily headlines labeling Siddiqui a member of Al-Qaeda.
We do know that FBI officials and ISI officials had been meeting with reporters privately to allege that she was an a member of Al-Qaeda but they could charge her without “compromising their sources”.
We do know that this jury was not sequestered.
We do know that airport style security was ordered outside the courtroom because of possible threats from the gallery.
We do know that this was unprecedented in judicial proceedings
This is a work in progress. I will be updating.