The Prisoner Number 650
21 April, 2010
By Brigadier (R) A Q Anjum
Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a 38 years old Pakistani woman is in international media as a terrorist. But a question arises in many minds, is she a terrorist or not? Aafia Siddiqui was born in Karachi, Pakistan, on March 2, 1972. She was one of three children of Mohammad Siddiqui, a doctor trained in England, and Ismet. She is a mother of three. Aafia moved to Texas in 1990 to be near her brother, and after spending a year at the University of Houston, transferred to MIT. Aafia then married Mohammed Amjad Khan, a medical student, and subsequently entered Brandeis University as a graduate student in cognitive neuroscience.
Citing the difficulty of living as Muslims in the United States after 9/11, Aafia and her husband returned to Pakistan. They stayed in Pakistan for a short time, and then returned to the United States. They remained there until 2002, and then moved back to Pakistan.
Some problems developed in their marriage, and Aafia was eight months pregnant with their third child when she and Khan were estranged. She and the children stayed at her mother`s house, while Khan lived elsewhere in Karachi.
After giving birth to her son, Aafia stayed at her mother?s house for the rest of the year, returning to the US without her children around December 2002 to look for a job in the Baltimore area, where her sister had begun working at Sinai Hospital.
It appears that after the divorce, she was getting scared of her ex-husband. The FBI was still chasing Ms Aafia. She visited US on 25 December 2002 but returned after one week. Early 2003 she e-mailed a former professor in US to ask him to get some job. In March 2003, the FBI is said to have issued a ?Wanted Notice? for Aafia and her ex-husband Amjad Khan. Suddenly, Aafia with her children disappeared from Karachi. Her whereabouts and activities from March 2003 to July 2008 are not known. According to US and Mr Khan, Siddiqui went into hiding. Siddiqui?s family said that she did not have any connection with al-Qaeda and that after March 2003 the US detained her secretly in Afghanistan, where she was tortured for five years in solitary confinement at Bagram as Prisoner 650. There is yet another story that Aafia married one Ammar al-Baluchi who was a nephew of al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in April 2003 and that Al-Baluchi was taken to Guantanamo Bay military prison, where he still languishes.
Let us visit main scene of drama when Siddiqui was arrested on July 17, 2008, after five years of unknown period of her life. The place was Afghan National Police Station of Ghazni. A woman in burqa, accompanied by a boy of 12 years, aroused a suspicion. The woman had a number of documents of incriminatory nature and also, allegedly, some chemical substance in gel and liquid form etc. She was arrested; she was none other then Aafia with her son Ahmed. The next day, a strong US military team arrived in Ghazni to interview Aafia, in the room where she was detained. There was a curtain. It is said that an official sat down near the curtain, putting down his loaded M-4 assault rifle. He did not know that the woman was also there. It is further alleged by the US Captain that the woman picked up Rifle and fired two shots at him without any success, in response, a Warrant Officer returned the fire hitting her unconscious. It is said that she was then taken to Bagram Air Base by helicopter in critical condition.
The above incident is shown to have taken place in Ghazni, Afghanistan. She was charged on July 31, 2008 for assaulting with a deadly weapon to kill US personnel. She was flown to New York on 6 August and indicted on September 3, 2008 in USA. A revisit to the basics is necessary before venturing further into the murky world of intrigues and mystery; Aafia Siddiqui was on routine path of collecting knowledge with her normal religious zeal as a Muslim woman. Suddenly she was forced to face a gauntlet blaming her to belong to an ?unrecognized? Al-Qaeda organization on the basis of frivolous connections in a period when she was honoured with the award of Ph.D. The hounds of FBI, ironically, followed her. The couple with children returned to Pakistan. Yet another catastrophe popped up in her destiny that her husband Mr Khan also deserted her. They say the misfortunes never come singly. Soon after, she was picked up from Karachi in March 2003, remained under duress and in seclusion till 2008.
Obviously, she had been ill treated, brain-washed and kept under nourished for a period of continued five years. Now, having passed through such an ordeal, when she appeared in Ghazni 2008, did she have strength and physical muscles to pickup Assault Rifle under the eyes of five stout American officials? Imagine a feeble woman under such privations and near-death doomed environs, was she frisk enough to pickup the loaded rifle and start shooting as a gymnast? Unbelievable! It was all farce. The US sleuths were after Aafia for the last seven years i.e 2001 to 2008 for the extreme crime of her being a member of Al-Qaeda. She was instead charged with much a softer and dubious act of assaulting with a rifle, which did not belong to her. During the trial Siddiqui objected to the presence of any Jew on the jury. ?If they have a Zionist or Israeli background?.. They are all mad at me,? She said. She would say, ?This is not a fair court. Why do I have to be here?? As a result of her outbursts, Siddiqui was repeatedly removed from the court. On 3 February 2010, she was found guilty. Sentence will be passed on some later date.
This is the sad end of a brilliant Pakistani girl who had gone to US to get education. She being a Muslim and exceptionally bright in her studies was termed by the West to be a religious extremist without any transparent involvement in any action on terror. She was kept in hiding for five years where she was maltreated physically losing health and mental peace. English daily also quoted former M15 Chief that US deliberately kept Britain in dark about inhuman treatment during questioning of detainees between 2002 and 2007. US, our Ally in War on Terror has destroyed our innocent woman in a horrible way. Aafia Siddiqui has already been destroyed and punished beyond limits. She must be handed over to Pakistan without further damage? From the first dawn of life unto the grave, Poor woman kind’s in every state a slave. Sarah Egerton (1670-1723)