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Dr. Aafia Siddiqui sentenced to 86 years in prison for trying to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan

By       Message Abdus Sattar Ghazali     Permalink
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Not unexpectedly, the 86 years jail sentence against Dr. Afia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist, triggered outrage across the country with protesters taking to the streets in many places. It was 10 p.m. Thursday in Pakistan when US District Court in Manhattan by Judge Richard M. Berman announced the judgment but protesters were up in arms in several cities of the country. There were demonstrations, mainly from students in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar burning US flags and effigies of US leaders. They chanted anti-American slogans. In Lahore, a young demonstrator was shown on a Pakistani TV network saying that "we will burn the US consulate."

In Karachi, a large number of people gathered at the residence of Dr. Afia's sister Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui. She said "This decision proves that the system of justice that the US believes is its pride is no longer effective."

Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of the Punjab Province with largest population, described it a verdict against humanity. Mufti Munibur Rehman, a prominent religious leader said that the verdict will foment extremism in Pakistan.

Maulana Fazalur Rehman, Chairman of parliament's Kashmir Committee, announced that he will cancel his forthcoming visit to the US in protest against the US verdict.

Tellingly, Dr. Afia was quoted by Associated Press as telling the court Thursday: ''I am not sad. I am not distressed. ... They are not torturing me." ''This is a myth and lie and it's being spread among the Muslims.'' Commenting on this statement, Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui said that she was perplexed with this statement that has been given under duress.

It may be recalled that in July 2009, Dr. Afia told the court that she was being tortured. The BBC reported on July 7, 2009: "While denying charges against her, she also told the court about her mistreatment in prison and desecration of the Holy Quran. She said that the Holy Quran was put in her feet. At one time she turned toward the court room packed with journalists and her well wishers and said they should tell the world that she is innocent , she is being tortured and there is a conspiracy against her.

Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui also accused the Pakistani government of collaborating with the US government in Dr. Afia's plight. "The conviction clearly shows how enslaved our government is. The previous government (President Pervez Musharraf's) had sold Aafia once, but the present government has sold her time and again," she said.

Dr Aafia says an appeal would be a waste of time

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In New York, hundreds of supporters of Dr Siddiqui had gathered on the court grounds and adjoining areas protesting against her trial and conviction. "It is my judgment that Dr Siddiqui is sentenced to a period of incarceration of 86 years," said Judge Richard Berman. Dr Aafia Siddiqui denounced the trial and said an appeal would be "a waste of time. I appeal to God." When her lawyer Dawn Cardi said in the court that they would appeal the sentence, Dr Siddiqui shouted "they are not my lawyers".

On February 3, 2010, a jury in New York found Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, guilty of attempted murder charges on all seven counts listed in the complaint against her. She was tried on charges of trying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan on July 28, 2008. According to the prosecution, Dr. Siddiqui grabbed a US warrant officer's rifle while she was detained for questioning in July 2008 at a police station in Ghazni and fired at FBI agents and military personnel as she was pushed down to the ground. None of the US soldiers or FBI agents was injured, but US-educated Dr.Siddiqui was shot. She was charged with attempted murder and assault and other crimes.

To borrow Stephen Lendman, "her trial was a travesty of justice based on the preposterous charge that in the presence of two FBI agents, two Army interpreters, and three US Army officers, she (110 pounds and frail) assaulted three of them, seized one of their rifles, opened fire at close range, hit no one, yet she was severely wounded. No credible evidence was presented. Some was kept secret. The proceedings were carefully orchestrated. Witnesses were either enlisted, pressured, coerced, and/or bought off to cooperate, then jurors were intimidated to convict her."

According to prosecution Siddiqui was arrested by the Afghan police in the town of Ghazni with notes indicating plans to attack the Statue of Liberty and other New York landmarks. However, she was not charged with terrorism but charged only with attempted murder.

During the trial, the prosecution admitted that there were no fingerprints on the gun she was supposed to have wrested from one of the soldiers. No bullets were recovered from the cell.

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Early in the case Siddiqui's defense team suggested she was a victim of the "dark side," picked up by Pakistani or U.S. intelligence, but prosecutors insisted they found no evidence she'd ever been illegally detained. By the time of the trial, no mention was made of Siddiqui's whereabouts during her five missing years.

No explanation was given as to why a would-be terrorist would wander around openly with a slew of almost theatrically incriminating materials in her possession.

No questions were raised about the whereabouts of her two missing children, one of whom is a U.S. citizen. (Her daughter Maryam and son Ahmed later recovered from Afghanistan and handed over to Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui.)

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 

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