Aafia Siddiqui`s likely story

Published September 7, 2008

A REPORT says Dr Aafia Siddiqui is being formally charged with attempted murder and assault of US nationals, officers and employees, in a New York court (Sept. 4).

Meanwhile, her lead attorney, Elizabeth Fink, informed reporters that Ms Siddiqui remained in need of medical attention. “She needs to be treated in a humane fashion based on what everybody concedes happened to her. And they (the authorities) are not doing it.” While that is very right, if we also consider carefully what has actually been going on since July 7, a clear insight can be gained on what Ms Siddiqui`s likely story is.

Only July 7, the well-known British journalist Yvonne Ridley and Imran Khan held a press conference in Islamabad and made public the case of a woman, till then unidentified, who was reportedly being held and tortured at the Bagram detention centre of the American military. It was later conjectured that she could be Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

In response, a US military spokesman in Afghanistan denied that there had been any woman in their custody (July 12).

However, it appears that the pressure rapidly building up forced the Americans to cook up a story, charging her with something more tangible than the previous accusations that had been disproved by her lawyer, Elaine Sharp. On July 19 there was news from Ghazni in Afghanistan saying the police had arrested a Pakistani woman and a 13-year-old child when they were allegedly fixing suicide explosives to themselves behind the governor`s residence and planning to target the governor and high-ranking officials.

He said they couldn`t speak Darri or Pushto but spoke Urdu and Arabic and that the woman had confessed to have come from Multan in Pakistan for the attack. After that, the FBI suddenly told Dr Siddiqui`s brother living in the US that she was alive and was in the US custody in Afghanistan.

The detainee`s lawyer, Ms Sharp, also confirmed this FBI move but thought that Dr Siddiqui was actually detained for political reasons, while also revealing the previous incidents and accusations about her client (Aug 5 and 6). On their part, the Americans charged in the New York court that the Afghan police had arrested her outside the Ghazni governor`s compound and considered her suspicious (Aug 6).

Her handbag was said to have numerous documents about explosives and descriptions of various landmarks in the US, including New York. Ms Siddiqui was also said to be in possession of substances sealed in bottles and glass jars.

It is clear from this story that the alleged Pakistani suicide bomber and the child were none else than Dr Siddiqui and her eldest son, who is actually aged 11, rather than 13, as claimed in the July 19 report. Furthermore, the Afghan foreign minister has said a few days back that the boy was in their Attorney General`s office and would be handed over to his relatives soon.

From this a number of things can be inferred. First, that Dr Siddiqui, obviously, could not be so foolish as to be carrying all the incriminating evidence in her handbag while setting out to kill the governor etc. Second, she couldn`t have taken her son, aged only 11, on such a mission, while leaving her other kids behind, aged around eight and four.

Third, how could she have been carrying all those bottles and jars on her suicide mission? Fourth, an account of the FBI agents and army personnel who went to question her on a second floor meeting room, says they were “unaware that Ms Siddiqui was being held there unsecured, behind a curtain.”

One soldier took a seat and placed his rifle on the floor next to the curtain. It is alleged she grabbed the rifle and attacked the men and, in return, was fired upon and injured, but still wrestled with them!

It is undoubtedly a concocted story. If the woman was so dangerous, then how could she have been left unattended and unrestrained in that room, `behind a curtain`?

The foregoing facts suggest a new plot has been woven because the allegations made in the previous five years couldn`t stick.

The lady and her children, the eldest of whom has already not been found guilty of anything, must, therefore, be released forthwith.

A. HAKIM

Karachi

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