By Anas Abbas
Aafia Siddiqui was finally convicted on 4rd February 2010 for trying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. She is now expected to face a maximum of 60 years in prison.
Below is a study that will analyze some important questions that are related to Aafia Siddiqui’s case. The questions are:
What happened to Aafia and her children in 2003?
Why is this case so extraordinarily popular in Pakistan?
Why are the majority of Pakistanis so adamant about Aafia’s integrity?
Why has Pakistani media been creating a mass hysteria from this case?
Why is Aafia popularly known as “Sister” and “Daughter” in Pakistan?
Why is this case being exploited by Pakistani political parties such as PTI and JI for political rivalries against their opponents?
Why Pakistani government paid a hefty sum of $2 million to hire one of the best law firms, Dawn M. Cardi & Associate, to represent this case?
Why have people (including Aafia herself) been dragging Israel into this case and calling the ruling of U.S. court as partisan and Zionist influenced?
Brief background of Aafia Siddiqui:
Aafia Siddiqui was born in Karachi, Pakistan on 2nd March 1972. She was one of three children of Mohammad Siddiqui, a British trained doctor, and Ismet. She moved to Texas in 1990 and after studying at University of Houston for a year, she transferred to MIT. After completing her undergraduate degree in biology, she then went to Brandeis University for her doctorate in cognitive neuroscience. Later she married a Pakistani anesthesiologist Amjad Khan and lived in a flat in Boston that also served as the headquarters of an Islamic charity called the Institute of Islamic Research and Teaching. She later went back to Pakistan with her husband and soon separated.
It is reported that Aafia Siddiqui was involved in providing charity funds to two major charity organizations that were ostensibly working in the U.S. for humanitarian causes but were later banned after 9/11 for having ties to terrorists in Afghanistan. These were Al Kifah refugee center that was based in Brooklyn and Benevolence International. It was later revealed that Al Kifah had ties to Maktab al-Khidamat that was founded by Abdullah Azaam and Osama Bin Laden.
There are numerous other stories that have been verified by FBI officials, Aafia’s husband, some prominent journalists belonging to Newsweek & Guardian and Fleet National Bank Investigators. The investigators later found Aafia’s and her husband’s involvement in transferring large sums of money to mysterious accounts of Saudi nationals and buying night goggles, body armours & military manuals.
Aafia came back to Pakistan in 2002 and later separated from her husband on a dispute in relation to the education of her children. It is also reported that she got married to Ali Abd’al Aziz Ali (aka Amir Al Balochi), a nephew of a dreaded terrorist Khaled Shiekh Mohammad (BBC confirms this from security sources and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s family).
She was on her way to Karachi airport in 2003 but then disappeared and later appeared in Ghazni, Afghanistan in 2008 and was arrested by Americans. She was then accused of attempting to murder American soldiers while in detention. Later she was extradited to the U.S and eventually faced the 2 week trial that resulted in her conviction.
There are numerous theories on the sudden disappearance of Aafia from Karachi in 2003 and regarding her case. Some of the theories are:
The popular claim here is that she was abducted by FBI and then transferred to the U.S. Bagram facility in Afghanistan. There, she has claimed that she was tortured and raped consistently by soldiers and her two children also died during this time. It is also claimed that after this information was leaked to the public, American soldiers created a story to frame up Aafia by placing her in front of an Afghan police station with her elder son and creating a perfect scenario where she can be charged as a would be suicide bomber.
The second theory is almost similar to the first one except that it claims that it was the ISI (not FBI) who abducted Aafia from Karachi and then transferred her to the Americans.
This section has two scenarios
Aafia was abducted briefly in 2003 but was later released and then forced to go undercover by security officials of both America and Pakistan in order to infiltrate Al Qaeda’s sleeper cells. Later, Aafia visited her uncle Shams ul-Hassan Faruqi (The same person who called Imran Khan to report Aafia’s disappearance in 2003) and pleaded him to hand her over to the Taliban in Afghanistan as she was reluctant to work as double agent. Soon Aafia disappeared again from the guest house where she was staying during the visit to her uncle. The only source for this claim is her uncle himself, who recently gave this account to a Guardian newspaper journalist Declan Walsh and the BBC.
This is the official account that the US government and Aafia’s husband Amjad khan maintains. Here they claim that she was an extremist Jihadi who had links with top Al Qaeda operatives. She was also of a violent nature and went into hiding in 2003 after she found out about the FBI investigation. She then appeared in Afghanistan in 2008 and was then arrested by Afghan Police.
So what really happened to Aafia Siddiqui in 2003? Was she really abducted by the security agencies and is her family and the Pakistani media justified in accusing the U.S for extraordinary rendition? Was she abducted by ISI and kept in Pakistani prisons and later sent to Afghanistan? Or did she go into hiding to evade the FBI investigations and worked underground for Al Qaeda?
In any case above, there is no mention of the whereabouts of those innocent children that were with her when she was abducted or disappeared in 2003. What really happened to those children? Were they killed by American or Pakistani agents in the process of torturing Aafia Siddiqui? Or are they still out there somewhere with any Aafia Siddiqui’s aide.
The point is that we will never know about this unless there is a proper investigation on what exactly happened to her in 2003. All available accounts of her life before 2003 shows that she is a devoted extremist; but there is no account of her whereabouts after 2003. Any investigation should account for her mysterious disappearance.
Let’s critically analyse the questions highlighted in bold above. I have divided these questions into sections:
Section 1 will focus on the Zionist label on Aafia’s verdict and briefly analyze the popular opinion in Pakistan about the so called Israeli/Jewish controlled American investigations, interests and court rulings/verdicts. This theory has a new impetus after the verdict of Aafia Siddiqui’s case and conspiracy theorists are exploiting this case to justify their delusions.
Section 2 will focus on the rest of the 6 questions in relation to Aafia’s popularity, integrity, public, Government, Political Parties and media support.
Section 3 will critically analyze some major misconceptions related to this case that are widely common in Pakistan.
Section 1 Analysis.
During her trial, Aafia Siddiqui expressed serious reservations regarding the Jews.
She demanded that Jews should be excluded from the jury at her trial in New York. She also called for jurors to undergo genetic testing in an outburst in federal court.
“If they have a Zionist or Israeli background . . . they are all mad at me,” Ms Siddiqui, said. “I have a feeling everyone here is them – they should be subject to genetic testing. They should be excluded if you want to be fair,” she told the judge.
In her letter released by law firm Dawn M. Cardi and addressed to all Americans, Aafia blamed the Jews for all the miseries around the world. The entire letter echoes the ideology of Zaid Hamid (A Pakistani racist holding a PHD in deception from Brasstacks University). After the verdict, Siddiqui shouted: “This is a verdict coming from Israel, not America.”
There is a common perception that America is fully controlled by (Jews and Israel) and is fighting the wars against Muslims on their behalf in order to fully exterminate the followers of the Islamic faith. Most of these theories are heavily influenced by white supremacist organizations and the Nazis. This is a lengthy debate of who controls America and plenty of research has been done on this by scholars. The reference section below provides a detailed list of some articles and research on this issue. For brevity’s sake, in this section I will give examples of some of the court rulings and actions of the Americans that will help in refuting this baseless claim that the Jewish control American policies
If Zionists/Jews control the U.S. as claimed by Aafia Siddiqui and other Pakistanis then what should we make of the following?
- Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish American intelligence analyst was convicted and given a life sentence for spying for Israel in 1987. Influential Israeli politicians such as Benjamin Netanyahu and human rights activist groups lobbied for his release but this pressure had no impact on American juries or policy makers. Pollard was given an Israeli citizenship in 1995 and received massive publicity by Israeli officials who campaigned for his release. Another similar case is of Ben-ami Kadish (A U.S. Army employee) who was an agent of Israel and passed classified American information. He was charged on conspiracy charges and then pleaded guilty.
- Israel is China’s (A U.S. rival) biggest arms supplier after Russia and was stopped by the U.S. for selling advanced airborne radar system to China. This is because the Americans saw this as a transfer of a US-derived technology that would compromise their strategic and defense interests. Israel faced a similar situation when due to Washington pressure, they were ordered to freeze a major contract with Venezuela to upgrade its 22 U.S.-manufactured F-16 fighter jets. This is because of the strained relations between America and Venezuela.
- Kobi Alexandar (Jew), founder of Comverse Technology (A Well – known Technology Company) was charged with multiple counts of fraud and irregularities in stock trading. Another influential Jew charged by the United States Department of Justice.
- Holocaust Denial: this is illegal in 13 countries (mostly in Europe and in Israel). Surprisingly, in U.S., holocaust denial is not a criminal offence. In fact there are numerous propaganda movements that are currently active in promoting their views against Jews. These are KKK Ku Klux Klan, American Nazis and White Aryan Resistance movements. They not only use radio, television or internet for their propaganda but they also hold public marches and demonstrations to express their views. A famous case is of National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie where eventually the US Supreme Court allowed Nazis to stage demonstrations in Chicago area near the village of Skokie (Skokie is a village where holocaust survivors live). Most influential holocaust deniers are in US such as David Duke, a candidate in general election for President in 1988.
- FBI investigation recently led the arrests of Two New Jersey mayors and dozens of Jewish political and religious figures. This was a part of ten year investigation involving organize crime, corruption and money laundering. Another investigation also resulted in the arrests of 200 Israeli spies.
- Jewish Defence league was founded by Ultra Nationalist Jewish Rabbi Meir Kahane and was later declared a terrorist group by FBI after it was found out through investigations that the organization was involved in 15 terrorist attacks in U.S
Now where is the Israeli lobby? Why it cannot force the Americans to ban many Neo Nazi movements currently operating in America? Why it is tolerating a racist organization (KKK)? Why it is not able to release its agents from American captivity? Why it is unable to force FBI into not arresting Jews?
Why Holocaust denial is not illegal in America?
It is absurd to believe that Jews control the U.S. after we have gone over the above facts.
This, by no means, is intended to imply that Americans do not support Israel. Israel is an influential ally of America and is an important factor in the American foreign policy. It serves American interests in the Middle East by helping America to keep its hegemony intact and keeping an eye on the other oil producing nations. Here it’s about mutual interests. This is just like Pakistan relations with Sudan and China which Pakistan maintains for defense and strategic reasons and quietly tolerates the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Darfur and the oppression of Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province. (Note that China is Sudan’s largest trade partner and exports 40% of oil). Is Pakistan in a position to raise a concern on Darfur issue with Sudan without annoying China?
Section 2 Analysis.
As of 4th February 2010, social networking website Facebook has 15 fan pages and 22 groups of Aafia Siddiqui with 34,000 and 40,000 members respectively. She has been the highlight of across the electronic and online media including popular talk shows, newspapers and magazines, blogs, forums and chat rooms.
There have also been rallies, protests and demonstrations involving 1000s of people in support for her in all big cities of Pakistan.
Let’s assume that Aafia is completely innocent and she was tortured and kept in prison by U.S soldiers and then framed for false shooting attempt.
Is all the above hysteria justified to get Aafia Siddiqui justice?
Well I have no problems with this hysteria but why did we not see this in the case of two other missing Pakistani women?
One is Zarina Mari and the other is Dr Shazia Khalid. Majority of Pakistanis do not even know their names, considering how Aafia Siddiquee is a popular enough figure in Pakistan that even the Taliban are now demanding her release from the U.S.
Zarina Mari, similar to Aafia Siddiqui in relation to abduction, rape and torture allegations, was abducted by the Pakistani army from Baluchistan in 2005 and is believed to be kept in an army torture cell in Karachi. She is a 23 year old school teacher and according to human rights organizations (Asian Human Rights Commission, HRCP Pakistan), Baluchistan Political Parties, Baluch and other activists, she has been kept in cells and forced to work as a sex slave. Former prisoners from the torture cells also narrated her stories. Mr. Munir Mengal, the managing director of a Balochi-language television channel, claims to have witnessed this sexual slavery in a Karachi based torture cell. According to Asian Human rights commission of Pakistan, “the current whereabouts of the young woman are not known. It has been asserted that women who are fighting for the greater autonomy of Baluchistan are being arrested by the state agencies and being forced into their custody as sex slaves”.
Dr Shazia Khalid, a medical doctor and an employee of Pakistan Petroleum Limited, was brutally beaten and raped by an army officer named Captain Hammad at Sui Hospital in 2005. Subsequently she was denied by the officials to contact her husband and other family members and instead of providing her treatment for her wounds; the officials drugged her and then transferred her to a psychiatric hospital in Karachi. Later she was put under house arrest and was denied access to lawyers, doctors and human right officials of her choice.
She later left Pakistan with her family after repeated threats to her life. According to her BBC interview, Dr. Shazia said that she was threatened many times. “I cannot tell you how many times I was threatened. My life was made impossible. I am still terrified.” “My whole career was destroyed, as was my husband’s. That was why we left our country.” “Instead of getting justice, I was hounded out of Pakistan. I never wanted to leave Pakistan, but had no choice”. The video interview is in the reference section and I earnestly request every Pakistani to listen to that interview.
Few questions come to my mind when I go through the stories of these women:
Why are Zarina Mari and Shazia Khalid, like Aafia, not called the “Daughters” and “Sisters” of Pakistan by its hyperbolic media, politicians and public?
Why have Imran khan (Former Playboy and Aka Neo Taliban) and Jamate Islami never voiced their concerns about these women with the same intensity as for Aafia Siddiqui. Remember that Imran’s party warned to go for mass demonstrations after Aafia’s conviction?
Why was Shazia Khalid’s and Zarina Mari’s families never interviewed by Pakistani TV channels?
Why was Shazia Khalid’s interview to the BBC never aired by the so called “free” Pakistani electronic media?
Why have we not seen mass scale demonstrations in Pakistan for the justice for these two women?
Why are pictures of Shazia Khalid not the highlight of every newspaper, TV channel and Pakistani activist’s blogs as pictures of Aafia are?
Why there is not a single group or fan page of either Zarina Mari or Shazia Khalid on Face book?
To summarize, why do people in Pakistan worry more about Aafia than these women?
The reason is quite simple and its not that Pakistanis genuinely care about Aafia or any other women for that matter. They don’t give a damn about how many women get oppressed or suffer from torture in extra judicial detentions. Fortunately for Aafia, she was abducted by United States of America. This is the core reason why we have witnessed the massive difference of reaction in the Pakistani media, among political parties and public between the cases of Aafia and the other two women. The elements in Pakistan who choose to stay silent on Zarina Mari’s issue but not on Aafia Siddiqui’s case were not actually expressing concerns about her detention or some abuse by the U.S forces. They were simply exploiting this case to express their political hatred against the U.S.
United States, thanks to its policies, is the most despised country in Pakistan after India. Unfortunately for Zarina Mari and Shazia Khalid, the culprit who is accused of being responsible for their problems is the Pakistan army who is trusted by Pakistani nationalists and media; the public consider the army as the infallible savior of Islam. Political parties are not in a position to use any issue directly against the army because they won’t be able to mobilize any support.
To sum up, the reason why we have witnessed mass hysteria in Aafia Siddiqui’s case is not because the people really have sentiments for Aafia Siddiqui but it’s because they had anti U.S sentiments.
Can any Pakistani TV channel today play the BBC interview of DR. Shazia Khalid?
Imagine if Shazia and Zarina were victims of the U.S instead of the Pak army, the reactions of Pakistanis would have been completely different and they very likely would have gone to the streets.
There are many Pakistani prisoners languishing mostly in Saudi Arabia and UAE prisons but there is no hype for them and all attention is always on Aafia Siddiqui as if she is the only Pakistani women to have been tortured and kept in illegal detention. Recently, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis claimed that approximately 6,431 Pakistanis are jailed abroad, mostly in UAE and Saudi Arabia. But again this news will not sell in Pakistan.
Another issue that went largely unnoticed in Pakistan is the issue of child camel jockeys where small children from Pakistan and other poor Muslim countries were trafficked for use as jockeys in the rich camel racing industry in the Middle East.
In 2004, Ansar Burney (A Pakistani Activist), said that more than 40,000 children – mostly from countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia – are being used in the Middle East and North Africa as camel jockeys.
“During training races they often fall down and are badly injured… Because it is illegal to keep underage jockeys, they never receive medical treatment and often suffer prolonged pain and some of them even die,”
Does the “Free media” of Pakistan have any balls to raise their voice against this camel industry?
Did we have a single mass protest in Pakistan ever condemning this child abuse?
The answer is no and this is because the camel industry is unfortunately in the Middle East which is predominantly a Muslim region.
Had the same industry been in the US or Israel, the reactions would have been mind blowing.
Section 3 Analysis.
Aafia weighs less than 100 pounds hence she cannot lift an M4 rifle which proves that she has been falsely charged.
An M4 rifle is a US made weapon whose loaded weight is around 3.4 kg. Is Aafia really is unable to lift a 3.4 kg gun?
Lets look at these child soldiers in the photos below who are holding Ak 47’s (around 5 kg loaded weight) and PK Machine gun (around 9 kg).
Note that child soldiers are currently fighting in Africa, Palestine, Sri – Lanka, Afghanistan, Burma etc.
When these children who are under 10 years old and food deprived can use these weapons then why can’t Aafia Siddiqui?
Although this argument was never used in Aafia’s trial by her lawyers, it became extremely popular in the Pakistani media after her lawyer Elaine Sharp said this in an interview to the press in 2008.
There were no finger prints and other forensic evidence and therefore to convict Aafia on the basis of testimonies only was not justified. This was the argument of Aafia’s lawyer but in Pakistan the theory is that no finger prints were found and it is unprecedented that a victim is convicted on just testimonies so therefore this proves that Americans deliberately put Aafia behind bars.
This is not true. Although I agree with Aafia’s lawyers that the jury relied solely on testimonies as the forensic evidence was unavailable. Due to lack of forensic evidence, the case turned in Aafia’s favour but eventually her case lost ground when she testified despite repeated warnings from her family and lawyers. At one point during her trial the prosecution questioned her about documents found in her bag which contained blue prints of some locations in the U.S. and had mention of bombing them. Aafia first claimed that they were put there by someone even though her defence had already accepted that they had her handwriting. She later claimed that she had copied everything on the documents from a magazine.
Due to these inconsistencies in Aafia’s testimony, the jury lost confidence in Aafia’s statements. This and the testimonies of 9 witnesses from the prosecution resulted in her conviction.
But is it really the first case where a person is convicted without forensic evidence? There are many cases in the U.S where the jury has convicted without forensic evidence and relied on testimonies or other circumstantial evidence. Please look at the reference section for some examples of those other cases.
Jews influenced Aafia’s lawyers which led to her loss.
It is absurd to believe that Aafia’s lawyers gave this case away. In fact her lawyers gave an extremely tough time to the prosecution and while following the case I was very much convinced at one stage that Aafia would be exonerated.
The law firm Dawn M Cardi brought a forensic metallurgical consultant William Tobin, who worked at the FBI for 24 years and investigated high profile cases such as the JFK assassination and the crash of TWA flight 800. He testified for Aafia and it was his testimony where the issue of the lack of forensic evidence stirred. By giving examples from his past experience, he tried to convince the court that they should not rely on witnesses to decide Aafia Siddiqui’s fate and forensic evidence must be taken into account. He also highlighted a rather strange point that the investigators were able to recover the 9mm bullets that were fired on Aafia but were unable to recover any SS109 bullets that were fired by Aafia (as claimed by the prosecution). By conducting an experiment in the court, he demonstrated that the holes in the walls were not caused by Aafia’s gun M4.
The defense lawyers of Aafia were also successful in producing a short video of a press conference that was held in the same room previously before Aafia’s incident. The aim of this for the lawyers was to convince the court that the two holes which the prosecution claimed were fired by Aafia were already there before Aafia’s shooting incident.
The lawyers even tried their best to stop Aafia from testifying in the trial that eventually led to her downfall due to the inconsistencies in her statements which helped the prosecution.
It is ridiculous to claim that Aafia’s lawyers were responsible for her loss.
U.S. had no intention of releasing Aafia, since it could not charge its soldiers for falsely accusing Aafia as this would have tarnished the U.S. Army’s image. The trial was hence planned as a show to give a false impression of the American justice system.
The popular perception is that the Americans are afraid to convict their soldiers for any particular crime.
This is certainly not true
Below is the recent list of incidents and scandals where American courts have convicted their soldiers. Many of them were court-martialed or given heavy sentences for rape, torture, homicide, conspiracy and mass killings. Others were dishonorably discharged, demoted in ranks and or were put in solitary confinements.
The list is as follows:
- Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse (A Well – Known scandal)
- My Lai Massacre
- ISKANDRIYA incident (Iraq)
- Haditha incident (Iraq)
- Hamdaniya incident (Iraq)
- Tikrit incident (Iraq)
- Mahmudiya incident (Iraq)
- Ishaqi incident (Iraq)
- Bagram torture and prisoner abuse
This does not mean that the Americans have accounted for all the disputed events they were involved in. There are many incidents of aerial bombings, civilian casualties (Collateral Damage) that are still to be resolved.
Only Americans were involved in Aafia Siddiqui’s abduction from Karachi in 2003. (If it is assumed that Aafia Siddiqui was actually abducted rather than going into hiding in order to evade FBI investigations).
This is not possible that the Americans can abduct any Al Qaeda suspect from Pakistan without the knowledge of ISI, Military Intelligence (MI) or Intelligence Bearu (IB).
This claim of American involvement in Aafia’s Karachi abduction is actually promoted by Pakistan army/establishment and its media agents. The strategy here is to put the entire blame on U.S. so that the Pakistani public should always remain unaware of its countries agencies wrongdoings.
This is reminiscent of the same strategy that this powerful military establishment uses in the issue of drone attacks where it is fully complicit along with the Americans.
Cases such as those of Khalid Shiekh Mohammad (9/11 Conspirator) and Ramzi Yousef have shown that the operations of arresting suspects are either conducted solely by Pakistani intelligence agencies or along with the collaboration of U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).
In concluding this short study on Aafia Siddiqui, I would like to stress upon this fact that Pakistani public must put pressure on its army and agencies to find those innocent children of Aafia and a proper investigation should be launched onto what exactly happened to her in 2003.
The mass hysteria in this case is not justified unless the same attention is given to the cases of other missing Pakistani women.
It seems to me that we don’t care about the Muslim sisters, thousands of whom have been brutally oppressed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Waziristan and Swat and many of them have been jailed in Saudi Arabia after being raped by their nationals. We never publicly expressed any sympathies for them. Why???
The answer is simple: Because U.S, Israel, India and Europe were not involved in their oppression.
Aafia Siddiqui Protests:
Aafia Siddiqui’s background including transferring funds to suspected charities, Fleet National Bank Investigations and statement of her uncle.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7544008.stm (BBC confirmation from Khalid Shiekh Mohammad’s family about Aafia)
http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=20404 (Aafia Siddiqui’s husband statement)
Aafia and the Jews:
America and the Jewish Control.
http://www.engageonline.org.uk/archives/index.php?id=17 (Recommended Articles)
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/court-releases-letter-from-pakistani-scientist/ (Aafia’s Letter to all Americans)
Pakistan Sudan Relations:
Zarina Mari and Baloch Missing Persons.
Taliban Demands Aafia.
DR. Shazia Khalid.
Taliban Khan on Aafia.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obD25GJAtdc (Taliban Khan’s claims of speaking to Aafia’s Uncle in 2003)
Pakistanis jailed abroad.
Child Camel Jockeys.
M4, AK47 and Child Soldiers.
Aafia’s Trial Coverage and examples of other cases.
Examples of other cases.
Aafia’s Trial Details.
American Army scandals, investigations, trials and convictions.