Aafia Siddiqui (Urdu: عافيہ صديقی) (DOB used: March 2, 1972) is a MIT and Brandeis alumna, originally from Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. In 2004, she was accused by the United States Government of being "associated with al-Qaeda". In March 2003, Siddiqui went missing along with her three children. In August 2008, she was charged in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York with assaulting and attempting to kill US personnel while in detention in Afghanistan.
In 1996, a year after she graduated, she wrote an article for the MIT Information Systems newsletter about how to download computer programs using the File Transfer Protocol and the then-emerging World Wide Web.
In 1999, while living in Boston, she and Khan founded the nonprofit Institute of Islamic Research and Teaching.
She subsequently went on to graduate study in Neuroscience at Brandeis University, receiving a Ph.D. degree in 2001 for her dissertation, entitled "Separating the Components of Imitation".
She was married to anesthesiologist Mohammed Khan until 2002/2003. They have 3 children: Maryam(96), Ahmed(98)(aka Ali Hassan), and Suleman(02). Khan is now working as a physician at a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. Khan and Siddiqui divorced because Khan was linked to Al-Qaeda thru his wife. Khan's family lives in a wealthy compound in Karachi.
Siddiqui is reported by the US government to be married to Ammar al-Baluchi.
The Boston Herald reported March 23, 2003 that until August 2001, Siddiqui lived in a Mission Hill neighborhood high-rise apartment building in Boston that was frequented by Saudi nationals. Siddiqui's specific address in the building was identified as apartment number 2008. Another Fleet Bank customer, Hatem Al Dhahri, also listed his address as number 2008 in that same building. Al Dhahri and Siddiqui's accounts were both active and current in the fall of 2001, but it is unknown whether they shared the apartment at the same time. A Saudi Embassy spokesman said that Al Dhahri has been interrogated by the FBI and has denied any knowledge of Siddiqui.
Subsequent to the Fleet National Bank investigation, Aafia Siddiqui's husband was found to be purchasing high-tech military equipment. According to Newsweek, FBI documents also stated that Khan, Siddiqui’s husband, had purchased body armor, night-vision goggles and a variety of military manuals that were supposed to be sent to Pakistan. Fleet National Bank accounts associated with the couple also showed "major purchases" from U.S. airlines and hotels in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and North Carolina as well as an $8,000 international wire transfer on December 21, 2001, to Habib Bank, the largest bank in Pakistan.
Newsweek reported that Fleet National Bank investigators discovered that one account used by the Boston-area couple showed repeated debit-card purchases from stores that "specialize in high-tech military equipment and apparel", including Black Hawk Industries in Chesapeake, Virginia, and Brigade Quartermasters in Georgia. (Black Hawk's website advertises grips, mounts and parts for AK-47s and other military-assault rifles as well as highly specialized combat clothing, including vests designed for bomb disposal).
The Fleet National Bank reports detailing all the transactions were filed with the U.S. Treasury Department, and suggest that Siddiqui and her estranged husband, Dr. Mohammed Amjad Khan, may have been active terror plotters inside the country until as late as the summer of 2002.
At that time, the Boston Herald also reported her being linked to alleged terrorist Adnan El Shukrijumah, "whose name surfaced among the belongings of" Mohammed. In any case, she attracted international attention at that time as the first woman to be sought by the FBI in connection with its pursuit of al-Qaeda.
Siddiqui's uncle claimed in the spring of 2003 that she had been detained in Pakistan and was being questioned by or for the FBI, this claim was subsequently denied by the FBI for the next four years. The lead FBI investigating office in Boston also stated that as far as the FBI was aware, Siddiqui was not arrested by any other nation either. On 28 February 2007 Human Rights Watch said that Siddiqui "may have once been held" in secret detention by the CIA.
The family of Aafia Siddqiui asked attorney Elaine Whitfield Sharp of Marblehead, Massachusetts, to serve as their spokeswoman in the media. She had filed cases in US courts since her disappearance in 2003.
On May 26, 2004, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller announced that reports indicated that al-Qaeda planned to attempt an attack on the United States that summer or fall. In addition, Director Mueller named Aafia Siddiqui as "an al-Qaeda operative and facilitator", and as one of seven al-Qaeda associates who were being sought in connection with the possible terrorist threats in the United States, though they did not have any reason at that time to believe that the seven were working in concert. Ashcroft went on to say of the seven that they all posed "a clear and present danger to America, and should all be considered armed and dangerous." The other alleged terrorists named on that date were Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Amer El-Maati, Adam Yahiye Gadahn, Abderraouf Jdey, and Adnan G. El Shukrijumah. The first two had been listed as FBI Most Wanted Terrorists since 2001, indicted for their roles in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings. Jdey was already on the FBI's "Seeking Information" wanted list since January 17, 2002, to which Siddiqui and the other three were added as well.
Despite the more serious allegations made by the Director on May 26, 2004 about Aafia Siddiqui, her FBI Seeking Information Alert continues to merely state that "Although the FBI has no information indicating this individual is connected to specific terrorist activities, the FBI would like to locate and question this individual." In contrast, the other four alleged al-Qaeda associates who had been named along with Siddiqui by the FBI Director on that day are all "being sought in connection with possible terrorist threats against the United States", according to the specific text in their Seeking Information Alerts.
In the press conference, the Director further emphasized that "Each of these seven individuals is known to have a desire and the ability to undertake planning, facilitation and attack against the United States whether it be within the United States itself or overseas." However, no Justice Department explanation has been given for why Siddiqui remains listed as "wanted for questioning" — not for terrorist activities -- (That terrorist action never occurred; Nor was a credible threat of such ever made public.) The announcement sparked fear that the face of terrorism was changing, i.e., that women and children were traveling incognito to accomplish terrorist goals.
Moazzam Begg and several other former captives have reported that a female prisoner, prisoner 650, was held in Bagram. According to The Daily Times and Adnkronos news service the former captives report she has lost her sanity, and cries all the time.
Iqbal Jaafree, a Pakistani lawyer, petitioned a Pakistani court for a hearing to determine Siddiqui's location.
Shorty after press rumors suggested that Siddiqui had been in Bagram for the last five years, the US government arrested Aafia Siddiqui on charges related to her attempted murder and assault of United States officers and employees in Afghanistan.
The US claims that Siddiqui was not captured in March 2003, that she was arrested on July 17 2008 outside the home of the Governor of Ghazni. The US account of the July 18 2008 shooting is that FBI agents, interpreters, and several GIs entered the room where Aafia Siddiqui was supposed to be only to find she wasn't there. According to the US account when they didn't find Siddiqui there, the GIs didn't search for her -- they set down their weapons -- whereupon Siddiqui burst from behind a curtain, grabbed an M-4, and opened fire. One interpreter who was accompanying the officers seized the firearm from her. Another heard her say, "Allah akbar!...Get the fuck out of here!" US officials claim they have no idea where Siddiqui has been in the five years since she was captured on March 17 2003.
Siddiqui arrived in New York on August 4, 2008, and was presented before a United States Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Siddiqui refused to accept the charges. Siddiqui's lawyer stated that no one can believe the FBI story and that Siddiqui had actually been captured in Karachi, Pakistan along with three of her children.
Huma Yusuf, writing in Pakistan's International News, argued that Siddiqui's reappearance highlights the importance for the restoration of the Judges President Musharref had controversially fired in 2007. Prior to their dismissal and house arrest the Supreme Court of Pakistan was conducting inquiries into the extrajudicial detention and disappearance of over 500 Pakistanis, including Siddiqui.
On August 8 2008 the Daily Times reported that Aafia was captured in Ghazni with her eldest son, Muhammad Ahmed. The report stated that documents existed that confirmed that Affia and her children had been captured in March 2003.
Reuters reports that Afghan officials offered an account at odds with the American account. According to Reuters Afghan police apprehended Siddiqui and a teenage boy in Ghazni because they triggered suspicions near the Governor's mansion. Reuters reported that the next day local police officials had a dispute with an American official over her custody. They then proceeded to "disarm" the Afghan police, at which time Aafia who was not armed and not resisting, was shot by a jumpy GI:
Reuters reports that Siddiqui's family believes she was raped, in addition to being tortured, while in Bagram.
After Siddiqui re-emerged the current location of her three children, who were with her in the cab where she was believed to have first been apprehended, in 2003, was the subject of speculation. Because her children were born while she was a US resident they are American citizens.
On August 9 2008 her sister Fauzia Siddiqui said that the family had been receiving assurances from the Pakistani Government authorities that she and her children were healthy during the five years her location was unknown.
The News of Pakistan reports that Siddiqui's health is very frail, over and above her recent gun-shot wound. The report quoted concerns of the Co-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Iqbal Haider, who felt the images of Siddiqui showing that her health had been so badly damaged her life was in imminent risk. The report stated that the following, though Aafia's lawyer has not communicated a confirmation, other than the note linked:
An August 11 2008 Reuters report stated that she had appeared at her hearing in a wheelchair, and that her lawyers pleaded with the judge to make sure she received medical care. Reuters reports that Elizabeth Fink, one of her lawyers, told the Judge:
The Reuters report stated that Siddiqui believed she had lost part of her intestines. Her lawyers told the judge they believed she was still suffering from internal bleeding. According to Reuters:
Christopher LaVigne, one of the Prosecutors, justified withholding medical care because she was a "high-security risk". The Prosecution was ordered to make sure she was seen by a doctor within 24 hours by Judge Robert Pitman.
Reports emerged that Iqbal Jafferi filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court, which asserted that Siddiqui had ended up in US custody through a US bounty payment to Bilal Musharraf, the son of President Musharraf.
Dr Aafia Siddiqui refused to appear in a New York court on Thursday, September 4th 2008, in protest against the humiliating treatment to which she is being subjected and because of her traumatised physical, mental and emotional condition. Her lawyer, Fink, gave the court a chilling description of the strip searches that Siddiqui is being made to endure every time she is visited, even by her lawyer. She refused to appear in court because she did not want to be subjected to the torture and humiliation of another strip search.
Dramatic scenes were witnessed at the Benazir Bhutto International airport as soon as Muhammad Ahmed, the son of Dr Aafia Siddiqui came out of the lounge. His mother is currently facing murder and attempt of murder charges in New York, US.
Muhammad Ahmed was 5 when he was caught with his mother from Karachi in 2003 is now 10 years old. Pakistani and US authorities have been denying such arrest.