A jury in New
York has found Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist once
dubbed by the US
media as Al-Qaeda Lady, 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.
The decision on February 3rd came two days after Dr. Siddiqui's case was sent to the jury, which was composed of 7 women and five men, as soon as prosecution and defense lawyers wrapped up their closing arguments.
According to the prosecution, Dr. Siddiqui, 37, 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 were injured, but US-educated Dr.Siddiqui was shot. She was charged with attempted murder and assault and other crimes.
claimed that 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
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.
Although she was not charged with terrorism, prosecutors described Aafia as a would-be terrorist who had also plotted to bomb New York. In her closing arguments, defence attorney Linda Moreno accused the prosecutors of trying to play on the jury's fears. "They want to scare you into convicting Aafia Siddiqui," she said.
Tina Monshipour, an attorney for Aafia's family, said after the verdict was announced: "This verdict is being subject to an appeal. There were a lot of unfair decisions. She was portrayed as a terrorist even if there were no terrorism charges in this trial. This is one of those cases in which we see prejudice and bias invade the courtroom."
Charles Swift, the lead defense attorney, said after the verdict that "I have faith in American justice system. We will appeal the verdict. I completely disagree with the verdict given". Sentencing will be carried out on May 6, Swift said.
According to a press release issued by the Justice department, Dr Aafia, 37, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of the attempted murder and armed assault charges; life imprisonment on the firearm charge; and eight years in prison on each of the remaining assault charges. She also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison on the firearm charge.