At the end of this month, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, is due to be sentenced in New York, after a trial earlier this year resulted in her conviction for opening fire on FBI agents and US military personnel in a police station in Ghazni, Afghanistan, where she was being interrogated in 2008. I have written about Aafia’s case previously — and recommend anyone who wants to know more to visit the Justice for Aafia Coalition website — as the pieces of the story simply don’t add up.
Aafia and her three children disappeared in Karachi on March 30, 2003, and according to numerous reports, she was then held in US custody in the prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, where she was subjected to torture, while two of her children were held in other facilities. The third, Suleiman, who was just a baby, may have died in the initial kidnapping, as he has not reappeared, even though Aafia’s two other children — Ahmed and Mariam — mysteriously resurfaced in September 2009 and in April this year
According to the US authorities, Aafia was never in US custody prior to July 2008, when she reportedly appeared out of nowhere and allegedly fired on the FBI agents and US military personnel who had apprehended her. According to this account, she failed to hit any of her targets, but what is certain is that she received two gunshot wounds in the abdomen. However, the claim that Aafia tried to shoot at her captors has always appeared to be a deeply suspicious story, and, during the trial that began in New York in January this year, after she was, essentially, “rendered” to the US from Afghanistan, it was noticeable that her lawyers stated that “there were no fingerprints or forensic evidence on the gun that would indicate Siddiqui ever even held it.”
As Press TV explained in a recent article, “Siddiqui vehemently denied all the charges against her during the trial, calling them ‘ridiculous’ and insisting that she was framed, jailed, and tortured by US agents in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was ‘pure psychological, emotional torture,’ she said, describing her situation. ‘I thought it was a continuation of what had been done to me in my secret prison history.’”
With the Pakistani government refusing to act on Aafia’s behalf, and fears that she will receive a life sentence on September 23, “Eid Without Aafia” is an important event to mobilize support for Aafia, and I am delighted to be taking part. Full details of the event are below:
Justice for Aafia Coalition (JFAC) presents
EID WITHOUT AAFIA
Saturday September 18, 2010, 2pm-7.30pm, Salaam Centre, 313-319 Katherine Road, Forest Gate, London, E7 8PJ.
As Muslims around the world celebrate Eid ul-Fitr in the comfort of their homes and amidst the company of family and friends, we remember Aafia Siddiqui as she completes her eighth Ramadan in custody and spends Eid alone once again in a cold cell in a New York detention facility, far removed from any contact with her loved ones. Join us to find out how you can help Aafia in the final days before her sentencing hearing, scheduled for September 23.
Former Guantánamo detainees Shafiq Rasul and Ruhal Ahmed in conversation with Andy Worthington (Author, The Guantánamo Files)
Ilyas Townsend (JFAC)
Ustadh Uthman Lateef (Hittin Institute)
Hamza Tzortzis (iERA, Hittin Institute)
Ustadh Abdullah Hasan (Islamic Forum Europe)
Chaired by barrister Rizwan Hussain
There will also be a charity auction, with all proceeds going towards Aafia’s defence, and a tribute to Faraj Hassan Alsaadi, held without charge or trial in the UK for eight years, who died in a motorbike accident on August 16, just eight months after he was finally released.
Nearest tube: East Ham/Upton Park
Buses: 325, 238, 376
For further information, please call 07903 388875 (brothers) or 07906 206211 (sisters) or email.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), and my definitive Guantánamo habeas list, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Here are a few comments from Facebook:
Spencer Spratley wrote:
I would agree with your “murky story” assessment. When I first heard the story, it sounded pretty mysterious and troubling. It remains so for me. It seems beyond outrageous that the US Government claimed she had not been in their custody all those years and then just appeared out of the blue.
PS> Andy, I have loaned out the “Guantanamo Files” to a couple of family members and it was real eye opener for them. I still consider the book a great service to humankind. Someone had to tell that story in a comprehensive way. Thanks for doing it. Any plans for a new book?
This was my reply:
Spenser, thanks for the kind comments. As for another book, I’m too busy working full-time as a journalist to spend a year writing a book for no money, but maybe that will change one day!
Abduljaleel Bain wrote:
I am looking forward to this event. If you are in London on the 22/23rd then come and join us as we spend the night in vigil for Aafia outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square W1. In fact I am asking all of you to come and join us as we wait to hear the sentence.
Since the sentencing for Dr. Aafia is tomorrow as I post this – some who come here may want to read this earlier classic and get it out to journalists/bloggers and other rights folk?
Rings true stronger than ever with relevance for many other people in this ugly “war on terror”…
[...] http://www.muslimsforjustice.org/2010/02/background-dr-aafia-siddiqui/ http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2010/09/13/event-eid-without-aafia-siddiqui-includes-andy-worthingt… Posted 25 Sep 2010 by admin Tags: aafia, aafia trial, barbaric, dr. aafia, islam religion, [...]
[...] truth about Aafia Siddiqui’s story, as I have mentioned in previous articles here, here and here, is difficult to discern, but too many unanswered questions had already been brushed off before [...]
[...] or American authorities—and was being held in a CIA secret prison somewhere (here, here, and here). By 2007 the Human Rights Watch group released a report calling Siddiqui one of the many “ghost [...]
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
Email Andy Worthington
Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist: