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Posts Tagged ‘Aafia Siddiqui

The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

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In the late Middle Ages, a person accused of sorcery was deemed guilty if — submerged in water — she drowned. Later, during the Salem witch hunts trials in America, drowning served as proof of innocence. Today’s American justice system is no less capricious. It seems we’ve regressed as a people. Perhaps this is because our existing justice system was not equipped to convict the accused based on the level of hysteria and fear their alleged crimes induced in the populace — nor to process evidence concocted through primitive methods such as torture and trial by ordeal. Under our new American system of justice, guilt is determined before trial — and, indeed, even before the accused has been arrested. Confessions by torture only confirm our suspicions. The formalities  — judge, jury and due process of law — have been reduced to sham procedures, as if by putting on such a show we could still lay claim to the right to call ourselves a civilized nation.

FORWARD

Googling the news for “Aafia Siddiqui,” the first headline that came up told us all we need to know about the kangaroo trial that started today in New York: Aafia Siddiqui, aka ‘Lady Al Qaeda,’ thrown out of court after ranting at jurors again.

While other headlines and stories echoed this tone, deeming Ms. Siddiqui’s comments as “strange” and “angry,” none of these news-writers seem to have been possessed by the sort of journalistic curiosity and integrity that once defined American journalism. None bothered to ask themselves (nor seek answers for their readerships), exactly what Aafia Siddiqui might have meant in one of her courtroom “outbursts” when she said:

“I never get a chance to speak! If you were held in a secret prison and your children were tortured….”

Or when she said:

“There was no list of targets against New York. I was never planning to bomb it! You’re lying!”

That’s the problem with kangaroo courts. The verdict is already in. The rest is just for show. The official record will never show what she meant by those words. In fact, the topic of terrorism (headlines notwithstanding) has been formally forbidden in her trial, officially scrubbed from the record. The verdict is in. All other points, including the truth, are moot.

We at canarypapers have been writing about Aafia Siddiqui since August of 2008, shortly after her alleged “capture” by Afghan authorities in July 2008. For those interested in the background on her story, we have several extensively-linked posts in the canarypapers’ archives. (See links at bottom of page).

Until the Obama Administration takes a mind to bring out of the dark, secret places all of our government’s illegal activities over the past 9 years (e.g. extraordinary renditions, secret prisons and confessions by torture — including the torture of detainees’ children), how can we take seriously our government’s accusations against any “terrorist suspect” — past, present or future?

The question is this: Is there truth to Aafia Siddiqui’s allegations that she and her three children were imprisoned and tortured for 5 years at the hands of U.S. authorities? If so, we can hardly give credence to this same government’s say-so that she was carrying out a terrorist plot when she was “captured” just a few days after she claims that she and one of her children were finally released from this prison in July of 2008 (Note: Her other two children are still missing, with her infant daughter believed to have died in this prison). If Aafia Siddiqui’s allegations are true, she is no doubt, as reported, psychologically scarred — not to mention justifiably outraged.

Yet, Aafia Siddiqui is not on trial for terrorism. She has already been presumed guilty of this on the say-so of the very government that justified “any means necessary,” including primitive torture, to produce evidence of guilt. Going by such monikers as “the female bin Laden,” and “Lady al Qaeda” and “al Qaeda Mom”  in the headlines, Aafia Siddiqui stands before the American public as evil incarnate, guilty of a crime for which she’ll never be tried.

How to proclaim one’s innocence under such circumstances? How to defend yourself, when your side of the story has been censored from the official record, as if your words were nothing but the ramblings of a madman?

The behaviors of the witches who vehemently proclaimed their innocence only sealed their guilt, in the minds of the officials and the gawkers. Time will tell, but there is little doubt — if today’s headlines are any indication — that Aafia Siddiqui’s behavior is also on trial and will be used by the American press to help indict her in the court of public opinion, which is about all that is left to us of our former justice system.

To the credit of Ms. Siddiqui’s attorneys, they are at least making a sound case that she has been falsely accused of the crime for which she’s been charged — attempted murder, for allegedly attempting to shoot at a group of U.S. soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan, an incident in which the only person shot was Aafia Siddiqui, who was gravely wounded.  Her attorneys have produced forensic evidence and credible witnesses to substantiate her innocence. However, these attorneys are walking a thin line. On the periphery of her defense is the unspoken story — her allegation that she and her children were imprisoned and tortured for 5 years at the hands of U.S. authorities — a story that sounds eerily similar to those told by so many other detainees renditioned to secret U.S. prisons around the world.

How else to try her, except in a sham trial, where she has been issued a gag order regarding any of the events that transpired during the 5 years leading up to her arrest and the alleged shooting? To allow her allegations to surface in any credible manner would be to put the U.S. government on trial. And that’s not going to happen.

Our most recent article on Aafia Siddiqui was in June 2009 post titled, 183 Times is the Charm: The Accusation (by Torture) of a Young Mother Named Aafia Siddiqui. Herein, we told the stories of but a small handful of the victims of the Bush- Cheney war of terror. Below are some excerpts from this post. But to better understand the case of Aafia Siddiqui, and others like her, we would urge you to read the entirety of “183 Times is the Charm…” as this post frames these stories in a more comprehensive context. Again, the excerpts below are from that June 2009 post, so some of the information may be dated.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aafia Siddiqui

We begin with the events of March-April 2003, when Aafia Siddiqui and her three children disappeared.

  • Various news agencies (CNN, Boston Glove, UPI) reported that Aafia Siddiqui’s name had surfaced during the “interrogation” of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which we now know involved 183 waterboarding sessions.
  • In the wake of the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed waterboarding sessions, the FBI issued an alert, on March 18, for Aafia Siddiqui.
  • On March 31, Aafia and her three children disappeared.
  • On April 3, various news agencies (NBC, Associated Press) report that, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and U.S. intelligence officils, Aafia Siddiqui was recently captured and was being held for interrogation at an “undisclosed location.”
  • On April 4th, the FBI “backed off” their initial claim, explaining that it had been a case of mistaken identity.
  • Aafia was not seen or heard from again for over 5 years.

We offer full version of her timeline from March 2003 through June 2009, with pertinent links, here.

The Story of Aafia Siddiqui

Imagine this: You are a 31-year old mother of three; you are also an MIT graduate with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. [In hindsight, there is cruel irony to the topic of your dissertation, in which you explored how people learn — specifically, the interaction between visual memory and perception. In your abstract, you wrote, “Without a visible trail, it is difficult for the subject to form a picture or story.”] . It is late March of 2003. Just a few days earlier, the U.S. went to war in Iraq and — as is now known — the CIA, the FBI and the Bush Administration at large were working around the clock to put together the intelligence necessary to justifying this war.

Up until a year earlier, you’d spent 12 years living in America as a dual citizen of the U.S. and Pakistan. You’d originally moved to the U.S. in 1990 to attend college and be nearer your sister and brother — a Harvard-trained neurologist and a Houston architect, respectively. While living in the U.S., you married a medical student in Boston, who went on to work as an anesthesiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. You gave birth to 2 children. Neighbors and friends described you as a devoted mother, spending the bulk of your time in the everyday routines of raising your children, overseeing play groups with their friends. You were also a devout Muslim and donated both time and money to charitable causes and missionary work to help less fortunate Muslims.

Because contributing to Muslim charities constituted a red flag in post-9-11 American, the FBI was watching you and had been since the fall of 2001. According to U.S. intelligence sources, your husband purchased night goggles and body armor off the internet in 2001, which he claimed were intended for big game hunting. Because of these purchases, you, yourself, were brought in for questioning by U.S. officials. Although you were released after questioning, this interrogation served as further evidence that the post-9-11 hostility toward Muslims was escalating. This factored into your decision to return to Pakistan — a debate that had already caused considerable strain in your marriage: you wanted to raise your children in America, while your husband wanted to raise them in Pakistan. In 2002 — with your marriage now on the rocks — you and your husband returned to Pakistan.

By March of 2003, you’d been estranged from your husband for over 7 months, during which time you lived with your mother and gave birth to your third child, who was now 6 months old. Three months earlier, in December 2002, you’d returned to the United States to apply for jobs in the Baltimore area, where your sister was now working at Sinai Hospital. After making several applications — and interviewing with both Johns Hopkins and SUNY — you opened a post office box to receive replies from prospective employers, then returned to your children and your mother in Pakistan.

Now imagine that the FBI believes the only reason you opened that post office box was to receive communications as part of an al Qaeda plot to blow up gas stations and fuel tanks in the Baltimore area. Imagine, too, that during the course of the FBI’s 18-month surveillance of you and your husband, they discovered that, during the summer of 2001, one of your former Muslim acquaintances from Boston had been wired $20,000 from Saudi Arabia (a sum which, according to the explanation given by a Saudi official to the Boston Globe, was sent to pay for medical treatment for the man’s wife). Lastly, imagine that, the FBI believes that this $20,000 is connected to a purported diamond smuggling trip, made by a mysterious woman in the summer of 2001, to fund al Qaeda operations. According to the FBI, that mystery woman is you.

To this story add water, then quickly spin

It is now March 28, 2003. Just a week earlier, on March 20th, the U.S. invaded Iraq. Several weeks earlier, on March 1st, the alleged architect of 9-11,  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was captured. It seems that — during one of his 183 waterboard interrogation sessions — your name came up. Such confessions do not arise out of the blue.

Here’s how it works: The interrogators accuse the detainee of a crime, supplying him/her with the details of the alleged crime (e.g. flying to the sabbath on a broomstick or plotting to blow something up). The detainee is then — over a period of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and/or years – beaten, cut, sliced, subjected to electric shock, freezing cold, left naked and forced to stay awake for days on end, hung from the ceiling by his wrists, starved, suffocated, water-tortured, and/or threatened with rape or death to himself, his wife or his children (who may, indeed, be heard screaming in an adjoining room) and otherwise tortured, threatened, humiliated and terrorized until he confesses to the crime(s). Next, the interrogators demand the names of his co-conspirators – supplying the detainee with the names and specifics of their alleged crimes (e.g. supplying broomsticks or bombs to other witches). He is then tortured until he tells the interrogators what they want to hear. New arrests follow. The accused co-conspirators are likewise tortured into confessing crimes and fingering still more co-conspirators. New arrests follow….

Your name is Aafia Siddiqui, and you have just been fingered (albeit under torture) by none other than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It is March 28, 2003. You have just left your mother’s house, with your three children, to visit your uncle in Islamabad. Only, you never arrive. Over the next several days, your name is broadcast in headlines around the world. According to a statement by the FBI, which had issued an alert for you only 10 days earlier, you were apprehended in Karachi, Pakistan and were being held for interrogation at an undisclosed location. A few days later, the FBI retracts this statement, saying that — despite their initial optimism — it was a case of mistaken identity. They had not captured you, after all.

The fact nonetheless remains: You and your three children seemingly disappeared into thin air. Over the next 5 years, your mother, sister and brother would search for you, traveling back and forth between the United States and Pakistan, demanding answers from authorities. Pakistani citizens joined humanitarian agencies and human rights groups the world over, waging protests on your behalf and demanding answers. The U.S. and Pakistani governments staunchly denied owning any information on your whereabouts, although, during 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller III announced that an informant in Africa had seen your picture  and fingered you as the diamond-smuggling woman from June 2001, which placed you on the FBI’s offical list of wanted terrorist suspects.

An attorney now working on your behalf says that she can prove that you were in the U.S. during June 2001. The likelihood of this evidence ever being presented at trial is, so far, slim to non-existent.

Your name is Aafia Siddiqui, just one in a long list of names of ghost detainees, being spirited from prison to prison, torture session to torture session; just one in a long list of terrorist suspects who have been fingered — under torture – by another terrorist suspect, who was perhaps fingered, under torture, by yet another terrorist suspect; just another body in another secret prison.

“Without a visible trail, it is difficult for the subject to form a picture or story.”

While the words Abu Garib and Guantanaomo Bay have been out of the closet for several years now, the words Dark Prison, Camp Slappy and the Salt Pit have yet to emerge in the American vernacular. These are but a few of the twenty or so secret prisons in Afghanistan — and a mere fraction of the total number of “dark sites” worldwide –  where the Bush-Cheney Administration sent detainees for the explicit purpose of extracting information through torture. Part and parcel of these detentions has been the fullscale denial by the Bush Administration — and, now, the Obama Administration — that these prisons (and, by extension, the prisoners, themselves) even exist.

Pertinent to the case of Aafia Siddiqui is the word Bagram Prison, which has been alternately a stopping point and the ultimate destination of thousands of Bush Administration terrorist suspects (the distinction between a bona fide terrorist and terrorist suspect being a moot one, within the current framework of the U.S. justice system). Within this tortured system of justice, the only evidence that these prisons exist has come from the ghosts that inhabited these prisons — those terrorist suspects who were eventually released, and have since given testimony to the various forms of tortures they endured, some of which make the stomach wretch just to read about them.

It can be seen as a sign of progress that the word waterboarding, along with enhanced interrogation and extraordinary rendition, have now made their way into the daily dialogue of mainstream media, granting the average American citizen permission to discuss these words without being branded a nut-job. But these words are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is the Bush-Cheney torture program. Beneath the surface are so many other words — much-spoken elsewhere in the world, but yet to emerge in the American vernacular: hoods, electrocutions, whips, mock executions, sexual humiliation, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, dog terror, starvation, hypothermiathe rapes (both threatened and consummated), the electric prods, the “dog box,” the rubber bands on the penis designed to stop urination for days at a time, the hot metal rods, the threats to harm a prisoner’s wife or child (some allegedly carried out), the razor cuts and pepper spray on the genitals – not to mention the full menu of  “sanctioned” tortures that have also been inflicted on the thousands of human beings — including uncounted scores of innocents – chained and shackled at the mercy of their torturers, whose explicit job description was to extract information through whatever means were necessary.

Beneath the surface, still, are the numbers of detainee children (ages from infancy onward) who have been imprisoned and held for the cruelest ransom: a full confession from their parents. Further, still, beneath the surface are the stinging insects and the deprivation of food and water — two tortures which have been repeatedly alleged as being used on these children. And we have yet to learn the extent and nature of those “gruesome” forms of torture, such as “crushing the testicles of a person’s child,” that were approved by the Bush Administration for use on detainee children. In this vein, it must be remembered that, along with Aafia Siddiqui disappeared her three children — ages 6 months, 4 years and 6 years in March 2003.

It would be another five years before Aafia Siddiqui would see the light of day.

HEADLINE: The Female Osama bin Laden is Captured!

Aafia Siddiqui ‘reappeared’ in the summer of 2008. She was promptly arrested, and — even as she was dubbed “the female Osama bin Laden,” with her capture deemed to be “the most significant break in U.S. intelligence in 5 years” — her story drew only small mention in the mainstream U.S. media before disappearing completely off the radar.

Given the seriousness of the accusations waged against her, it’s astonishing that few American have even heard her name, much less know her story. What’s even more astonishing is the utter absence of natural or professional curiosity by those U.S. media outlets that did cover her arrest in the summer of 2008. More astonishing, still, is the menu of accusations waged against her in the court of the U.S. media — in which she was essentially tried and convicted — and with much relish by one ABC anchor (seen in the video, below), as he recited the laundry list of allegations against Aafia Siddiqui, as if they were fact:

What has made her capture so important is what the FBI says it found in her handbag: maps of New York City and information on subways, Time Square, the Statue of Liberty, and the nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center, run by the Federal government. Also discovered, according to court documents, information on explosives, chemical weapons, and other weapons involving biological material and radiological agents being researched by al Qaeda….”

Perhaps the most important discovery, says the FBI, is a computer thumb drive, packed with emails to what she called ‘her units’ — a possible roadmap to plots in the works…

Among the many plots authorities say she was connected to was a reported effort to assassinate former presidents Carter, Bush and Clinton using chemical or biological agents. While her friends and family say she is an innocent woman being persecuted by the U.S., when she was captured, she was discovered to have a large quantity of cyanide in her possession, perhaps prepared to take her life to avoid capture…..

She was also told by leaders “Have lots of babies. Raise little jihadists.” …. She was ideal to have more little jihadists.” ,

Those well-versed in the talking points of human rights’ abusers might have noticed, in the above news segment, the heavy-handed treatment given to Aafia’s children, as they were pre-emptively dehumanized. See, these are not real human children, folks. They are “little jihadists.” Don’t let their size fool you. Pint-sized Miriam (who, at six months of age, was likely just learning to sit up and could, perhaps, even say the word, “coo” and wave goodbye) was a full-fledged terrorist, in miniature. And don’t be swayed by the fact that her older siblings, Suleman and Ahmed (ages 4 and 6 years of age, respectively) were both American-born citizens. This was no doubt part of the global terrorist plot to infiltrate America and destroy our way of life.

With Aafia Siddiqui’s children thusly dehumanized, we Americans could go on with our lives (rent a flick, buy a new pair of stilettos, plan a trip to Vegas) with a clear conscience. No need to give a second thought to the fate of those three children — two of whom are still missing, with Miriam believed to have died in captivity.

The story of Aafia Siddiqui, as told by her brother

The most comprehensive and — by virtue of its source — the most compelling account on Aafia Siddiqui was given just last month, in April 2009, by her brother, at the Muslim Legal Fund of America’s annual fundraising dinner. The full text of his speech is given below (following the asterisks).

Aafia, You Are Not AlonePerhaps one day someone in the mainstream U.S. media will take aim at the story of Aafia Siddiqui. Perhaps, if her story were told in the full light of day, it would be legitimized and could thereby be removed from the minions of so-called conspiracy theorists (like us) and the so-called terrorist appeasers (like Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Cageprisoners, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, to name a few). Maybe, then, all the other stories could be told, too. Because the truth — which is not so foreign outside of the U.S. — is that Aafia Siddiqui is not the only one. (Here is another. And another. And another….)

The stories of these prisoners make clear that — no matter how much Obama and Cheney protest that these torture incidents are mere aberrations, committed by a small handful of “a few bad apples” — the U.S. torture program is, by design (and a clever one, at that) as elusive as it is systematic. And, even as there are many Americans who fully condone torture — saying yes, “Hell yes!” to torture — surely, surely no one would condone torturing a child, even if her mother were, indeed, guilty of the most heinous crimes.

Surely, the American soul has not succumbed to such putrid rot. Or has it?

*     *     *     *     *

THE TEXT OF THE SPEECH GIVEN BY AAFIA SIDDIQUI’S BROTHER ON APRIL 25, 2009

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you information about my little sister, Aafia Siddiqui’s case. I especially want to commend you for your courage and support in that you are here tonight.

I have been given the difficult task of presenting a short briefing regarding the facts surrounding Aafia’s case.

However, a brief explanation will not allow me delve into all the angles involved in the case so I will try to focus on the core points from my perspective.

So much has been claimed about my sister. So many labels have been applied to Aafia that unfortunately her humanity has been lost. In order to put the case in context, I will have to digress slightly, and perhaps the best place to start is the beginning – the beginning for me was our upbringing.

Aafia was the youngest child in our small family of three. She was always an accomplished student, who treasured education and it was this pursuit of education that lead her to the U.S. at a young age. When she came here, she lived with me before getting her scholarship to MIT. During this time, my little sister devoted herself to her studies and Muslim student activities. She always had a soft spot for helping people and dawah work.

Aafia also had a passion for children, which sounds nice to say; however, proof was in the fact that she dedicated her education at MIT and Brandeis towards the developing of creative and easy techniques for teaching children. Her own dream was to start a school where her techniques could be put into practice. And when she had children of her own, she was totally devoted to them.

Here is one of the many cruel ironies of Aafia’s life in that someone who dedicated her life to children would end up losing her own.

It was just over 6 years ago that my family’s nightmare began.

In March 2003, my little sister and her three small children all disappeared from Karachi.

It was Aafia, her oldest, Ahmad, who was 6 at the time, Maryum who was 4 and Suleman, who was only 6 months.

After many attempts by my family to find out what happened, we heard reports from both the Pakistani & U.S. press that Aafia had been picked up by security officials and handed over to the U.S. for questioning.

Then nothing… Silence. We could get no official word.

As we started to raise questions, my family was “advised” to stay quiet and told we would be left alone…

I am sure you all remember the atmosphere of the time. There was a tremendous climate of fear… and many reports of people just disappearing, especially overseas. Over time, we made discreet inquiries but as hope began to fade we resigned ourselves to the belief that she and her children were probably dead. My mother would search burial sites as not a single day went by that we forgot her but we kept our pain private as we struggled to move on.

Meanwhile, my sister Aafia, the human being, the mother of three was lost in her own abduction. Her story made her fair game. She was transformed into a flash point, a talking point for all sorts of allegations and speculations in the press, while legends evolved around her from parties with their own interests and agendas.

While we were silently grieving, many human rights groups added Aafia’s name to the growing list of missing persons. It seems Aafia’s was not an isolated case. There were hundreds…

Some of you may recall the time when the issue of missing persons became a hot button in Pakistan. It was during this time, when the Chief Justice started asking about the missing persons, that he was sacked.

In early 2008, Moazzem Beg, a former detainee at Gitmo identified Aafia among the women prisoners at Bagram. By early July, a prominent Pakistani politician, Imran Khan and British reporters released reports about Aafia being a detainee in one of the secret prisons.

Then suddenly, in late July 2008, we learned directly from the FBI that Aafia had been shot in Afghanistan and was being brought to the US on charges of attempting to shoot U.S. servicemen.

We were in total shock – on the one hand my family was overjoyed to learn that Aafia was alive… yet at the same time she faced such extraordinary charges and allegations that we feared for her future.

In an instant, we experienced simultaneous joy and horror; hope and despair, a miracle and an extraordinary test.

And the children – Only one of her children is accounted for. The others, to this day are still missing.

I have often wondered what it must have been like for her and I cannot imagine … just imagine what you would do if somebody took your children? Or, rather what would you not do?

It is important that you understand this, because unless you grasp this, you will not grasp the enormity of this case and what it represents. Why Aafia is where she is and how she acts. Why so many feel for her and why others may feel threatened by her case.

Officially she is charged with the attempted murder of U.S. soldiers. She has categorically denied these charges. Several journalists, including one of the first foreign journalists from Reuters who visited the scene and interviewed eye witnesses have disputed the official version, echoing Aafia’s account.

The charges are hard for me to understand because my little sister loved this country (The U.S.), where she earned an outstanding education. She disliked violence and respected the American work ethic and the value placed on merit and self achievement. Her own life exemplified this. She completed her education at MIT by working campus jobs and earning scholarships. She balanced her religious faith with a desire to forge a modern education. – And here is another one of those cruel ironies – as that very education is being used to vilify her.

Currently, the court proceedings are lingering. This adds to all the confusion and hype surrounding the case, not to mention challenging her physical and mental well being and even the ability to build a proper defense.

Then, there is the atmosphere of fear that we still live in today as those who would rise up and speak boldly are few and far between. I hear many private testimonials from people who knew her and still speak highly favorably about her but most fear speaking out publicly.

Aafia has alleged that she was held captive for over 5 years. The government’s response was to initially send Aafia for a mental evaluation and their own doctors determined she was incompetent to stand trial and may have post traumatic stress disorder.

The prosecution, not liking this, decided to get outside experts to overrule the findings (their own original findings) and currently the original doctors are revising their findings so she can stand trial.

Meanwhile, so much time has passed and Aafia continues to linger in prison. But despite all these challenges, she remains spiritually strong and her faith is undiminished although I do find myself questioning my own at times.

Aafia does have court appointed lawyers. But we learned over the past few months that court appointed lawyers have severe restrictions. For example, in 9 months not one defense lawyer has visited the scene of the crime nor interviewed a single witness or even made a motion for bail.

Court appointed lawyers are paid low fees, and even then, the lawyers constantly struggle get funds pre-approved from the judge. In this system, the other side knows everything you are doing.

Appointed lawyers do not even have to have expertise or experience in the area of charges relevant to the case of Aafia.

So, how can Aafia build a trusting and confidential relationship without a lawyer of her own choosing?

The case is complex and requires independent investigation and a team of capable and experienced lawyers.

This is why are teaming up with MLFA. They have experience in getting a solid legal team in place and are set up to do proper fund raising and accounting for cases like this. They have access to the best legal minds and experts and the ability to negotiate the best fees.

I never thought anything like this could ever happen to my family… I mean this is, or this was, something that only happens to other people…. We were professionals going about our daily lives and yet, here I stand before you after 6 years, 6 long and painful years that have taken a very heavy toll on all our lives, the lives of our children and on our community.

But I stand here because I want to thank you for your courage, your support and your prayers. In spite of, or perhaps because of all the contradicting reports, you are here tonight. Help us help Aafia.

I believe that perhaps the most striking duality about my little sister’s case is that while justice has eluded her, perhaps she can help establish justice for others.”

__________________________________

by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

__________________________________

Links to our other posts on Aafia Siddiqui


Note: Please excuse the discordant font sizes in the earlier posts. We transferred these from a different blog server and, for some reason, the fonts arrived in a jarring mix of big fonts plus fonts so tiny you can barely read them. We make no apologies, however, for any expressions of outrage we may have expressed in our writings in our posts on Aafia Siddiqui and her three children.


What did the Bush Administration do with Aafia Siddiqui and her three children?

Aafia Siddiqui and Her 3 Children: Victims to an America that has lost its soul

The Tragic Case of Aafia Siddiqui: How Each of Us Can Help

UPDATES: The Tragic Case of Aafia Siddiqui

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Written by canarypapers

January 20, 2010 at 12:14 am

183 Times is the Charm: The Accusation (by Torture) of a Young Mother Named Aafia Siddiqui

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NOTE: The post, below, is from June 2009. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see:  The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 317 YEARS?

From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens languished in jail for months without trials. Then, almost as soon as it had begun, the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended. (“An Account of Events in Salem,” from the University of Missouri — Kansas City website)

The hunt was characterized by unrestrained torture and and an obsession with getting tortured witches to name other witches. (from Witch Hunts in Europe and America: An Encyclopedia, by William E. Burns)

"Water Torture" 16th century woodcut by Joos de Damhouder, illustrating how to interrogate witch suspects under torture

"The Water Torture" 16th century woodcut by Joos de Damhouder, illustrating how to interrogate witch suspects under torture

By now, most Americans — having heard the word “waterboarding” at least 183 times over the past month — seem to have grown immune to the visceral horrors attending to that particular techinque that the International Red Cross terms “suffocation by drowning.” We’ve surely grown immune to human suffering. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have reduced the topic of torture to a mere parlor game — an exercise in sophistry — as the left and the right mentally wrestle with questions whose answers have been known for centuries: Is waterboarding torture? Does torture ‘work’?

[Click here to read the rest of this introduction on U.S. policy and torture. Or just skip the intro entirely, and keep reading onward, into the stories of several individuals (with particular focus on Aafia Siddiqui) who have been falsely arrested, illegally imprisoned, “disappeared,” subjected to extraordinarily rendition and/or tortured over the past 8 years — and counting.]

An American Story

Imagine this: You are a 41 year-old man, a U.S. citizen, born in Kansas, an Army veteran, married with three children, practicing family law in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon; you pay your taxes on time, have never had a brush with the law. You are the quintessential “average American citizen.” Imagine, then, your surprise when the FBI descends on your home and fingers you as the mastermind of the 2004 Madrid train bombing that killed 191 people and injured over 2000. Your name is Brandon Mayfield, and it’s official: You have just been arrested as the mastermind in an international terrorist plot.

“But I haven’t left the country in over 10 years!” you protest. “And I’ve never even been to Spain! How could this happen?”

Turns out it was your fingerprint. The FBI’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) identified your fingerprint as a possible match to the one found on a plastic bag near the Madrid bombing. The match was then verified in quadruplicate by FBI fingerprint experts, which lent full credibility to the claim in their affidavit: “….the FBI lab stands by their conclusion of a 100 percent positive identification.” It was the fingerprint, see.

‘Lucky’ for you, your incarceration lasted only 2 weeks. The Spanish police identified the real mastermind (some guy from Algeria), prompting the FBI to dismiss the charges against you. In return, you file a a civil-rights lawsuit against the U.S. government. Herein, more facts emerge. Turns out, the Spanish police had already rejected the FBI’s identification of your fingerprint — twenty-three days before your arrest — as “conclusively negative.” Perhaps that would have been the end of that, if not for the smoking gun: you were also a Muslim convert.

Convinced of your guilt, the FBI spent those twenty-three days doggedly pursuing a case against you, with an intensity that the Spanish Police found perplexing. As one commissioner said, “It seemed as though they [the FBI] had something against him, and they wanted to involve us.” Lacking probable cause for search and seizure, the FBI turned to the nifty new provisions in the Patriot Act, which allowed them to entirely sidestep your Fourth Amendment rights, via “sneak and peak” warrants.

Turns out, you and your wife hadn’t been imagining things. Your door lock had been tampered; someone had been in your home. You were being watched. It was the FBI who, in your absence, snuck into your home, your office, and even the family farm in Kansas,“surreptitiously, photographing papers, downloading hard drives, and planting listening devices.”

But you were ‘lucky.’ You had, at your disposal, due process — stuff like habeas corpus, and an attorney to represent you in a U.S. court of law. Your case was fairly clear-cut, too. That is, once the facts were allowed to see the light of day. In the end, the FBI aplogized and you were awarded a $2 million settlement. And in 2007, a federal judge ruled that those nifty Patriot Act provisions used by the FBI to sneak into your home actually violated the U.S. Constitution.

2891436BG002_Ottawa_CitizenNow imagine that you are a 34-year old man — married, a father, a Canadian citizen for 17 years, Syrian-born. And, oh, a muslim. Imagine yourself going on vacation with your family to Tunisia in 2002 and, upon your return flight home to Canada, passing through the JFK airport in New York City. Here, you are detained in solitary confinement and interrogated for 12 days, then shackled and flown to Syria, where you are imprisoned inside a coffin-sized underground cell for 10 months + 10 days, being subjected throughout this time to beatings and torture sessions to extract information which the U.S. government is certain you own.

While you initially refuse to admit to something you didn’t do, the torture finally becomes so unbearable, that you will say anything to make it stop — up to and including making false confessions, admitting guilt to whatever terrorist acts your torturers accuse you. Your name is Maher Arar and — even as you are ultimately determined to be 100% innocent — your case is not as clear cut as Brandon Mayfield’s. You are, after all, a Canadian citizen. And, oh, a muslim of Arab descent.

Still, the facts of your case do eventually see the light of day. The Canadian government launches a Commission of Inquiry into your case and, in 2006 (three years after your release from your extraordinary rendition to Syria), you are cleared of all accusations. The Canadian government issues an official apology, and you are awarded a settlement of $10.5 million Canadian dollars. For their part, however, the U.S. government and the FBI refuse to extend an apology, official or otherwise (even as there were a few notable lawmakers of integrity on Capitol Hill who did issue personal apologies on behalf of the U.S. government).

[see also: Patrick Leahy’s interrogation of Gonzales on the Maher Arar case here, and the 1-1/2 hour video of the U.S. Congressional hearing on Maher Arar’s case here].

Seeking to clear your name, you file a lawsuit against the U.S. government for violating your civil rights. But the Bush Administration refuses to allow your case to come to trial, for reasons of “national security.” To this day, you are still on the U.S. terrorist watch list and are forbidden to enter the country.

The likelihood of your case going to trial in the U.S. is slim, as the Obama Administration has, so far, aligned itself with the Bush Administration, — having recently used the “state secrets” argument to deny trials to 5 other Bush Administration victims who were similarly flown to other countries to be tortured. According to Obama, the Bush Administration was right: allowing these innocent victims a trial could threaten national security.

Ibrahim JassamNow imagine this: You are a 31-year old man, an accredited freelance cameraman and photographer, working for Reuters in Iraq. On September 1, 2008,  U.S. forces, accompanied by dogs, storm your home in the middle of the night — breaking down your door, barking orders and terrifying the grandparents, children and grandchildren inside. You are taken into custody and thrown into jail, without charges. Three months pass. Still, no formal charges, no evidence, no due process.

In a stroke of democracy, the Iraqi central criminal court orders your release, for lack of evidence. The U.S. bars your release, however, saying you are a threat to Iraq security and stability. The protests of your family, of Reuters and international human rights and media rights groups fall on deaf ears. More months pass. To this day, you are still in jail, without charges. Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and you are but one of  dozens of  journalists imprisoned — without charges — under the Bush Administration.

You are, so far, luckier than some. According to Reporters Without Borders,  hundreds of journalists have been killed in Iraq, with many more forced into exile, imprisoned or simply disappeared. Too, some have been imprisoned for much longer than you. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Bilal Hussein, for instance, was imprisoned for two years. Al Jazeera journalist, Sami al-Haj was imprisoned for over 7 years, with 6-1/2 of these years spent at Guantanamo, where America sends “the worst of the worst.”

A young boy hopes for the release of his father, Sami al-Haj -- a journalist and cameraman, better known to U.S. officials as Prisoner 345 at Guantanamo, where he spent 6-1/2 years without charges.

2007 photo: A young boy hoping for the release of his father, Sami al-Haj -- a journalist and cameraman, better known to U.S. officials as Prisoner 345 at Guantanamo, where he spent 6-1/2 years without charges.

[Here it must be said that Sami al-Haj’s story, alone, is evidence enough that our leaders and media should give pause to the Bush Administration’s “intelligence” that has effectively colored the entire population of 240 Guantanamo detainees — including those who have been long-pronounced innocent, but also those whose guilt was cemented under confessions extracted through torture — as a mix of terrorists and men so dangerous that they cannot safely be released anywhere on the planet Earth, much less allowed fair trials that would, in all likelihood, clear the names of some of these prisoners, the only “threat to national security” being that their trials would reveal the extent of the U.S. government’s tyranny.]

(video, above) Associated Press report (39 seconds long) on Bilal Hussein’s release in 2008, with footage of his reunion with his AP colleagues and his family

Both Bilal Hussein and Sami al-Haj were released  in 2008. Neither was ever charged with a crime, even as their incarcerations were justified by a series of shifting accusations, based on top secret evidence that, for national security reasons, could not be divulged: Bilal Hussein (see AP timeline of his case here) was accused, at one point, of being caught in possession of bomb-making materials, while Sami al-Haj was alternately accused of videotaping Osama bin Laden, sending money to suspicious Muslim charities, and arranging for the transport of a Stinger anti-aircraft system from Afghanistan to Chechnya. Despite these ludicrous accusations, in appears that these journalists were guilty of nothing more than practicing journalism.

Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and you’ve been in jail for 9 months, without charges. Your misfortune is that you are being detained by the U.S. government. Had you been detained by, say, Iran you would have been afforded at least some semblance of due process — formal charges, an attorney, a trial, an appeals process. Had you been detained by, say, North Korea, your injustice would be given a voice in the U.S. media. Had you been arrested by anyone but the American government, you would be a poster child, of sorts, for media suppression under tyrannical regimes.

Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and your story is almost, but not quite, unknown in America. According to your family, which has been allowed only a handful of visits, you used to be handsome. “But now he’s pale and he’s tired,” says your brother, describing one of these visits: “Every now and then while we were talking, he would start crying. He was begging me: ‘Please do something to get me out of here. I don’t know what is the charge against me.‘ I told him we already tried everything.”

Now imagine this: You are a 31-year old mother of three; you are also an MIT graduate with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. [In hindsight, there is cruel irony to the topic of your dissertation, in which you explored how people learn — specifically, the interaction between visual memory and perception. In your abstract, you wrote, “Without a visible trail, it is difficult for the subject to form a picture or story.”] . It is late March of 2003. Just a few days earlier, the U.S. went to war in Iraq and — as is now known — the CIA, the FBI and the Bush Administration at large were working around the clock to put together the intelligence necessary to justifying this war.

Up until a year earlier, you’d spent 12 years living in America as a dual citizen of the U.S. and Pakistan. You’d originally moved to the U.S. in 1990 to attend college and be nearer your sister and brother — a Harvard-trained neurologist and a Houston architect, respectively. While living in the U.S., you married a medical student in Boston, who went on to work as an anesthesiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. You gave birth to 2 children. Neighbors and friends described you as a devoted mother, spending the bulk of your time in the everyday routines of raising your children, overseeing play groups with their friends. You were also a devout Muslim and donated both time and money to charitable causes and missionary work to help less fortunate Muslims.

Because contributing to Muslim charities constituted a red flag in post-9-11 American, the FBI was watching you and had been since the fall of 2001. According to U.S. intelligence sources, your husband purchased night goggles and body armor off the internet in 2001, which he claimed were intended for big game hunting. Because of these purchases, you, yourself, were brought in for questioning by U.S. officials.  Although you were released after questioning, this interrogation served as further evidence that the post-9-11 hostility toward Muslims was escalating. This factored into your decision to return to Pakistan — a debate that had already caused considerable strain in your marriage: you you wanted to raise your children in America, while your husband wanted to raise them in Pakistan. In 2002 — with your marriage now on the rocks — you and your husband returned to Pakistan.

By March of 2003, you’d been estranged from your husband for over 7 months, during which time you lived with your mother and gave birth to your third child, who was now 6 months old. Three months earlier, in December 2002, you’d returned to the United States to apply for jobs in the Baltimore area, where your sister was now working at Sinai Hospital. After making several applications — and interviewing with both Johns Hopkins and SUNY — you opened a post office box to receive replies from prospective employers, then returned to your children and your mother in Pakistan.

Now imagine that the FBI believes the only reason you opened that post office box was to receive communications as part of an al Qaeda plot to blow up gas stations and fuel tanks in the Baltimore area. Imagine, too, that during the course of the FBI’s 18-month surveillance of you and your husband, they discovered that, during the summer of 2001, one of your former Muslim acquaintances from Boston had been wired $20,000 from Saudi Arabia (a sum which, according to the explanation given by a Saudi official to the Boston Globe, was sent to pay for medical treatment for the man’s wife).  Lastly, imagine that, the FBI believes that this $20,000 is connected to a purported diamond smuggling trip, made by a mysterious woman in the summer of 2001, to fund al Qaeda operations. According to the FBI, that mystery woman is you.

To this story add water, then quickly spin

It is now March 28, 2003. Just a week earlier, on March 20th, the U.S. invaded Iraq. Several weeks earlier, on March 1st, the alleged architect of 9-11,  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was captured. It seems that — during one of his 183 waterboard interrogation sessions — your name came up.

(continued page 2 —–>)

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UPDATES: The Tragic Case of Aafia Siddiqui

with 9 comments

The post, below, is from October 2008. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see:  The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

NOTE: SEE UPDATED LINKS FROM 11/19/08 and 11/27/08 AT BOTTOM OF POST

Interestingly, but to no surprise, you will find no recent information/updates in the U.S. media regarding this case. This is particularly unfortunate, because there appears to be some misunderstanding, which is too complicated to go into, but which is surely compounding the heartache of this situation. I wish I could reassure Aafia Siddiqui’s family that Carwell Prison in Texas is no Bagram. At the same time, I certainly understand their fears. Below, please find links to recent news stories, as well as the (3) links to my previous posts on Aafia Siddiqui.

My apologies for not updating the developments in Aafia Siddiqui’s case before today. I have been channeling every ounce of my time and energy into the fighting the lies and propaganda in the U.S. presidential election in the hope that our next presidency will not usher in hundreds more of victims like Aafia Siddiqui.

canarypapers: What did the Bush Administration do with Aafia Siddiqui and her three children?

canarypapers: Aafia Siddiqui and Her Three Children: Victims to an America that has lost its soul

canarypapers: The Tragic Case of Aafia Siddiqui: What each of us can do to help

DAWN : NEW YORK, Oct 8: Four Pakistani senators on Tuesday met Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist being held at a medical facility in Carswell, Texas, for medical evaluation, on orders from a US court judge.

DailyTimes: PAKISTAN, Oct. 9: Aafia in better health but vague about missing years — Aafia tells Pakistani senators charges against her baseless, has no confidence in her lawyers, US court; Claims she was tortured, made to sign documents, being forced to admit things

Daily Times: KARACHI, Oct. 7: Bring my sister back immediately — Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, the sister of the imprisoned Dr Aafia Siddiqui, has alleged that despite court orders being issued, the United States government has not made arrangements for Dr Aafia’s treatment and Dr Fauzia expressed grave concern over her sister’s deteriorating health. Dr Fauzia was addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Monday. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Secretary General Iqbal Haider was also present and he too demanded the immediate return of Dr Aafia. Dr Fauzia thanked the Pakistani government for its support but urged the government to ensure her immediate return so that she can receive medical treatment.

The Nation: KARACHI, October 6: Sister rejects psychiatric evaluation orders of Aafia — Dr Fouzia Siddiqui, sister of detained Dr Aafia Siddiqui, has thanked government of Pakistan for all its cooperation through resolutions and statements in support of her illegally incarcerated sister in United States. She said that the best treatment that her sister should get was to be repatriated to Pakistan immediately.

The Nation: LAHORE, Oct. 11: Lawyers demand Aafia repatriation — Lawyers have called for immediate extradition of Dr Aafia Siddiqui from America and asked the government to employ every means in this direction.

Associated Press of Pakistan: NEW YORK, Oct 9 (APP): Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is under U.S. detention on charges of attempted murder, does not have faith in the American judicial system and insists that the case against her is false and baseless, according to the head of a Pakistani parliamentary delegation which met her in Texas on Tuesday. Mushahid, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told a press conference in New York on Wednesday evening that Dr. Siddiqui, a U.S.-educated Pakistani neuroscientist, wanted the case against her dropped and she wished to be returned to Pakistan.

UPDATE 11/19/08: This link contains information from an October 2008 interview with Aafia Siddiqui: http://rainbowwarrior2005.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/dr-aafia-siddiqu-unfit-for-us-trial-torturemental-illness/

UPDATE 11/27/08: Includes updated information on Aafia Siddiqui’s arrest and details on her imprisonment and her children. Painful, very difficult, but important to read. http://rainbowwarrior2005.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/sindh-high-court-issues-notice-to-respondents-in-aafia-siddiqui-case/

You can also click on this GOOGLE search link to get updated news.

Aafia Siddiqui and Her 3 Children: Victims to an America that has lost its soul

with 2 comments

Aafia, You Are Not Alone

Aafia, You Are Not Alone

The post, below, is from September 2008. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see:  The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

UPDATED: If ever the official version of a story did not pass the smell test, it is the case of Aafia Siddiqui. The canarypapers recently published two posts on this case (on August 25th and  on August 29th) in an effort to urge protest against her mistreatment, to urge due process and proper medical care, and to spread what little is known of the facts regarding her case. Here, we offer updates on this case, as made available in the media and various web sites. We are also re-posting information to add your voice to those who are (1) urging a Congressional investigation into the facts of this case, (2) demanding proper legal rights, medical care and humane treatement for Aafia, and (3) demanding an investigation into the whereabout of Aafia’s two children, who are still missing, and demanding the return of her third child — 11-year-old Ahmed, who is a U.S. citizen — to her family, as he has been in the custody of Afghanistan intelligence officials for over one month now.

UPDATES: New links added 9/4/08 at bottom of post; new information in green text hroughout post.

UPDATE: New links added 9/8/08 at bottom of post in purple text.

UPDATE: New links added 9/19/08 at the bottom of the post in blue text.

Aafia Siddiqui’s son, Mohammad Ahmed, was finally released this week into the custody of his aunt, Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui. She described him to be traumatized, afraid and mentally disturbed, but in good health. He has so far given no details on his experiences while in custody. This is according to a Dawn Media Group story. The accounts in U.S. papers (e.g. NY Times, Washington Post) are deplorably inaccurate — for instance, suggesting the boy was Aafia Siddiqui’s ADOPTED son, despite well-publicized DNA tests to the contrary. This story continues to be heart-wrenching for the utter dearth of factual truth, and for the media perpetuation, without even a modicum of journalistic curiosity, of the myths in this case. The very real human tragedy of this story has yet to be told.

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Here’s how each of us can help Aafia Siddiqui and her children:

(1) Demand a Congressional investigation into this case by calling your Capitol Hill representatives via the Capitol Hill switchboard at 800-828-0498. Ask for your state representative, by name. You will be transferred to either voice mail or an aide. Leave a message that you, as a concerned American, want (1) an independent Congressional investigation into the case of Aafia Siddiqui (pronounced AUF-ia    Sa-DEEK-ia) and her three children, and that (2) you request that her current medical and legal needs be met according to U.S. and International laws regarding prisoners.

(2) Sign and send the letters of protest at the Asian Human Rights Commission site. These letters are forwarded to President Bush, to NATO headquarters, and to various authorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is important that these officials know the world’s eyes are focused on this case.

(3) Attend her court hearing in Manhattan on September 3rd, 2008. Protests are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Her hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. at the United States District Court (U.S.D.C.) for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y), located at 500 Pearl Street, Manhattan. It will be held in the Magistrates Court, 5th floor. Siddiqui refused to appear at this hearing, as she refused to undergo the pain and degradation of the requisite full-body strip-search. Her lawyers and court-appointed psychologist have requested she be transferred to a “less restrictive setting where she would not be subjected to strip searches and where she could receive more extensive (medical) care.” Judge Berman set a deadline of Friday, Sept. 12 for the defense to brief this issue, Wednesday Sept. 17 for the prosecution, with the next court appearance on Monday, Sept. 22. We will give more information on this as it becomes available.

(4) Send mail, publications or money to Aafia Siddiqui. There are specific regulations regarding these, which can be found, along with contact information and addresses, at the muslimmatters.org website. There is also contact information for her attorney at this site. NOTE: According to a September 1, 2008 report, Aafia is due to soon be transferred to a “better facility” where she will supposedly receive proper medical care. We will update this information as it becomes available.

See the bottom of this post for media updates on the Aafia Siddiqui case

_________________________________________________________________________________

QUESTION AND ANSWER: Is the writer of this post “anti-American” or pro-terrorism? No. I am pro-human rights, and I am in favor of both due process and the protections provided by the Geneva Convention and (formerly) the U.S. Constitution, as I will explain:

In reading, it has come to my attention that, by making “anti-American” statements in my writings on the Aafia Siddiqui case, I may be promoting the agenda that I am (1) anti-American, and/or (2) in favor of a terrorist suspect attempting to murder U.S officials, Nothing could be further from the truth. First, I write as a U.S.-born, caucasion citizen, a enlightened and spiritual human being with no religious affiliation whatsoever, In fact, my own spirituality precludes identification with any organized religion, as I abhor the long history of violence generated from the divisiveness that seems inherent between religions. I have never met, nor spoken with, or corresponded in any way with a Muslim or any representative of any one from the Muslim community.  In the same breath, I add that I am not afraid of Muslims, the same as I am not inherently afraid of any person, based on their race, creed, religion, ethnicity or nationality. I am not a champion of Muslim causes, per se, except in cases, such as the Aafia Siddiqui case, where human rights are being grossly violated under the Geneva Convention, the U.S. Constitution and the basic common tenets that we should all hold in common, as human beings.

I write as an American citizen who is profoundly saddened, alarmed and, ultimately afraid of the loss of these basic human rights through the Bush Administration’s flagrant disregard of these rights. I would, and I do, extend the same concern and outrage to any trampled citizen of the earth, no matter their race, creed, ethnic origin, or location on the map.  The Aafia Siddiqui case is but one such example. HIstory has shown that — throughout the world, and even withn the U.S. — over-reaching power, when driven by fear and a disregard for establised law, is a dangerous combination. Nazi Germany is one of the most notorious examples, but plenty of precedent exists on U.S. soil: slavery, ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, the Tuskegee experiment, the Jim Crow era, Japanese internment camps, the McCarthy hearings, and the current xenophobia (hatred/fear) toward Muslims that seeks to paint them all with the “Islamic terrorist” paint brush, thereby justifying a certain persecution of them, and a certain bending of their constitutional rights. There are many in the U.S. who feel that we have come dangerously close over the past 8 years to re-living a similar history to Nazi Germany through the over-reaching abuse of power, under the banner of “the war on terror.” Conversely, that the viewpoint of many Americans is fear-driven (much of this by the administration’s design) and are ignorant of the facts (also by design) has only allowed this abuse of power to flourish. It is a fact, not a conspiracy theory, that this administration has employed duplicity, lies, misinformation and propaganda to promote their lawlessness and to, indeed, prod the American people to condone and cheer on this lawlessness, in the name of doing “whatever it takes” to keep us safe.

We, at the canarypapers, find special exception in the case of Aafia Siddiqui. Here, we have a “terrorist suspect” who is accused of acts which she vehemently denies and, instead, claims that she has been imprisoned and tortured for the past 5 years, more than likely at the hands of U.S. officials in Afghanistan. Her physical, mental and emotional condition easily support this claim, as do the investigations of human rights organizations throughout the world. In this, we must — absolutely must — consider the alternative to the “official” version of her story: What if Aafia Siddiqui is telling the truth? WHAT IF Aafia Siddiqui is telling the truth? As stands — and by virtue of the built-in lack of due process for terrorist suspects — the chance of this truth seeing the light of day is slim. As fellow human beings, we must — absolutely must — demand due process and an independent and/or Congressional investigation into this case.

If we — as American citizens — have become so estranged from our humanity, our better selves, that we would condone persecuting another human being out of a fear and anger so great, that we give ourselves authority to presume the facts, rather than allow their proper discovery, then we have become like those very terrorists we claim to abhor. If we believe that it is fair for an innocent human being to be punished for the actions of others, then we are no different from those very terrorists we claim to abhor. If, in writing on Aafia Siddiqui, I have — in any way — seemed to embrace anti-Americanism, or a terrorist agenda, or have promoted a xenophobia of the Muslim community, it has not been my intention. In fighting for a just America — an America that adheres to both constitutional and international laws and treaties regarding human rights — I believe that I am fighting for the America envisioned by our founders, over 200 years ago, which is a very patriotic and American thing to do. My stance on the Aafia Siddiqui case is mine, alone, and has been influenced by no individual or group, beyond the Aafia Siddiqui, herself, as known to me by the research I have conducted on her case.

We, at the canarypapers, continue to allege, along with her family, her attorneys, human rights groups and many concerned individuals around the world that Aafia Siddiqui is a victim of the Bush Administration’s over-reaching “war on terror” that has secretly and illegally imprisoned and tortured hundreds, if not thousands of citizens around the world. We also allege, against the official versions given on this case, that Aafia Siddiqui was indeed arrested in April 2003, as then-reported (and later denied) by Pakistani and U.S. authorities/the FBI. We further allege that she spent the following 5+ years imprisoned and tortured, with most or all of those years spent in the United States’ notorious Bagram prison in Afghanistan, which serves a similar function to Guantanamo Bay, only without the facade of adhering to international laws regarding torture.

Pakistani Protesters Demonstrate on August 29th to Show Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

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If this case is “for real” how come most of us have never heard of it before?

The events and questions surrounding Aafia Siddiqui’s case have received little press in the U.S. media  — a deplorable oversight, given — if nothing else — her deplorable treatment in U.S. custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY. Her case is well known, however, in other parts of the world, especially her native country of Pakistan, where citizens have been gathering by the thousands for months now — demanding the release of Aafia and her 3 children from their secret detention. Her case is also well-known to human rights groups around the world, all of whom have reported for several years now, “credible evidence” that she was been held in secret detention facilities by U.S. and ally authorities, most likely in Afghanistan. Her case is also well-known by her own family, who has spent the past 5 years fighting for the truth on her disappearance, even as Aafia’s mother was threatened by Afghani authorities, at the time of Aafia’s disappearance in 2003, and warned to not make a case of her disappearance (the implication being that harm could come to Aafia and her children if the silence was not held).

Aafia’s case was also known to other prisoners at Bagram — by those “lucky” ones who didn’t die at the hands of their captors, or who were later deemed innocent and released after days, months or years of torture. One such “lucky” captor, held at both Bagram and Guantanamo, lived to write a book, in which he detailed the story of Prisoner 650. His story captured the attention of British journalist, Yvonne Ridley — a former “terrorist suspect” herself, who was imprisoned for a short time at Bagram. Earlier this summer, Ms. Ridley investigated Prisoner 650, who came to be known as “the grey lady of Bagram,” for the haunting screams of a woman being tortured in a prison that  — according to the FBI and the CIA — did not detain females. In the wake of Yvonne Ridley’s investigation, the public outcry over Aafia Siddiqui’s imprisonment grew overwheleming. Soon thereafter, she mysteriously re-appeared on a street in Afghanistan and was promply arrested — allegedly carring in her purse an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and maps to NYC landmarks.  The offical versions between the Afghani and U.S. authorities widely contradict each other, particularly regarding the events that led to Aafia being shot several times in the abdomen.

Over 4,000 Demonstrate in Pakistan in a Show of Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

Over 4,000 Demonstrate in Pakistan in a Show of Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

The power of protest and why it’s our duty, as American citizens, to do this

If not for the protests of the many concerned individuals and groups, Aafia Siddqui might still be in Bagram. One would think that she might at least receive humane treatment, once on U.S. soil. Not so. She has been denied medical treatment, on the grounds that she is a “security risk” and despite that, according to her attorneys, her condition has being both frail and deterioating, with her wound oozing blood. She has been denied proper medical despite the urging of the Pakistani consulate, her attorneys and her family. It is our duty as fellow human beings and American citizens to continue the outcry. Demand that Aafia be allowed due legal process; demand that she be afforded proper medical care; demand that an independent investigation be conducted to determine the facts about her case; demand that her 12 year-old child, Ahmed, who is a U.S. citizen, be released from Afghan custody; demand an investigation into the whereabout of her other two children — her daughter, Miriam, and her son, Suleman — aged 5 years and 6 months, respectively, at the time of their disappearance in 2003.

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UPDATE: Aafia Siddiqui’s court hearing was yet another sad turn in this case, as she refused to attend the hearing — the same as she has refused meetings with her attorneys — solely to avoid the pain and degradation of the invasive, full-body strip searches she is required to undergo before these meetings.
According to one article, Siddiqui’s lawyers and the court-appointed psychologist have requested she be transferred to a “less restrictive setting where she would not be subjected to strip searches and where she could receive more extensive care.” Judge Berman set a deadline of Friday, Sept. 12 for the defense to brief this issue, Wednesday Sept. 17 for the prosecution, with the next court appearance on Monday, Sept. 22. Aafia’s attorney, Elizabeth Fink, continues to claim, as stated in her letter released this past Wednesday, that Aafia Siddiqui was held by the United States following her 2003 disappearance. Fink wrote that The Washington Post told her of “reliable sources in both the American and Pakistani government who have verified” that Siddiqui was held, first by Pakistani intelligence in 2003, and subsequently by the CIA. The Post declined to comment.

According to prison staff, Aafia spends most of her time in the cell crying, a description eerily similar to the accounts written about Prisoner 650, “the grey lady of Bagram,” who was described in exactly the same terms. Aafia is also reported to be terrified for her three children, and terrified that her 11-year-old son, in the custody of Afghani intelligence officials, is being denied food. Despite repeated requests by her attorneys, and repeated orders by judges in the case, Aafia continues to be denied medical care for her injuries, and continues to be denied psychological care, including a mental health evaluation by a therapist trained in evaluating torture victims. Aafia Siddiqui has fallen through the cracks of international law, and has fallen through the safety net of a U.S. Constitution unraveled by this administration. These facts speak for themselves as much as the speak for the truth that her case is proving to be a worst-case scenario — a case that proves, regardless of its outcome, the consequences of removing the checks and balances from the tenets of human justice. No human being should be allowed to endure the suffering of this particular hell. (see the updated links in green, below)

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A Disclaimer, of sorts, regarding the facts of the Aafia Siddiqui case

We’re no amateurs at researching the goings-on by the Bush Administration. If we’ve learned anything over the past 8 years, it’s that this administration excels in disseminating disinformation. This disinformation is then served up to the American public as if it were news, when, in fact, it’s little more than a PR campaign to promote their various agendas: propaganda, by definition. Under these circumstances, fact-finding becomes an onerous task. One cannot take, on face-value, the offical accounts as given by our government, but must wade through a convuluted trail of (past and present-day) government and congressional documents, reports and investigations, along with independent investigations, individual accounts, and media reports & investigations — most of these drawn from select media outlets elsewhere in the world, where information and perspectives tend to be more factual. Doing this type of research over time, one develops a sixth-sense: something is just not right here; this does not pass the smell test.

As any one who’s ever concoted a big lie could tell you, it’s difficult to maintain a watertight case. Over time, the loose ends begin to fray. Things start to leak. The bigger the lie, the more complicated and, ultimately impossible it becomes to keep the lies straight. As my mother used to say, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

While this administration excels at disinformation, deception and outright lies (while discrediting their detractors, via the ‘conspiracy theorist’ or ‘terrorist appeaser’ labels) they are fairly sorry at covering their asses. To this end, when they can’t discredit the facts/fact-finders, they will alternately resort to more lies, resort to defamation of character, resort to withholding answers behind a cloak of “security reasons,” and so on. As a last resort, as we’ve recently seen with Karl Rove, they will simply thumb their noses at the Congress and the American public. Because of these things — not to mention that both our President and Vice-President have been accused of myriad war crimes and have been brought up on charges of impeachment for these crimes, all of which were born from sytematic campaigns of lies and duplicity about supposed terrorist activities around the world —  we tend to err on the side not believing the offical statements issued by this administration, particularly regarding their ‘intelligence’ on terrorism and terrorist suspects.  The way we see it, if the Bush-Cheney Administration can cook the intelligence to deceive this country into going to war with Iraq, it would surely be a snap to do the same for an individual human being — which is exactly what many allege this administration has done to hundreds, if not thousands of human beings throughout the world since September 11, 2001.

With the above caveats in mind, we can state with utter certainty that, in our research of the Aafia Siddiaui case, we find that the “official” accounts do not pass the smell test. In recent weeks, we’ve seen various “new” information crop up, bolstering the terrorist charges waged by this administration’s against Aafia Siddiqui: money trails, alleged contacts, her travels, etc. After researching these allegations, we’ve chosen to not provide links to them, as we find no credible evidence to support these allegations, beyond the say-so of anonymous “U.S. officials.”

The fact is (and, if you’ll read/listen carefully to the news, you’ll see that this is true) nearly all of the accusations waged by the U.S. against other countries and individuals in this unholy war on terror have been sourced from un-named “U.S. officials,” nearly always speaking only on the condition of anonymity, usually for ‘security reasons.’ Our belief — and we believe history will one day bear this out — is that each and every official statement quoted by un-named or anonymous “U.S. officials,” (aka White House sources, military analysts, Pentagon spokesmen, etc. ,etc.) was originally sourced from none other than the Grand Poo-Bah, himself: Dick Cheney, the man behind the curtain in Emerald City.

Our own facts about the Aafia Siddiqui case — arrived at through careful research and deliberation — may be imperfect (Is her son 11 or 12 years of age? Is her mother living or not? Where were Affia and her three children before their disappearance in 2003 — en route to her uncles’ house, or in hiding from the FBI’s terrorist alert against her?) Alternately, our facts may be dead-on accurate. One thing for certain: the Bush Adminsistraton did a particularly poor job of covering their asses in this case. Of all the reports and incidents we’ve researched over the past 7 years, the official version of Aafia Siddiqui’s case has been the most convoluted,  the most contradictory, the most gap-filled, the most deception-filled, the most suspicious and, ultimately, the most tragic case we’ve seen.

Worst-case scenario, if she is indeed guilty of any of the charges waged against her, she deserves a thorough, independent investigation into these charges and to the imprisonment and torture she alleges she suffered over the past five years. She deserves the basic human rights afforded by international treaties: the right to due legal process, the right to proper medical care, the right to know what happened to her children who, at the ages of 7 years, 5 years and 6 months were surely not deserving of whatever treatment has since befallen them.

Feel free to question our facts on Aafia Siddiqui. As always, we’re proud of the research we do, and are glad to share it with others.

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LINKS TO MORE RECENT NEWS REPORTS ON THIS CASE:

PakTribune: September 1, 2008 – Dr Aafia to be shifted to better facility soon: US authorities have indicated to the Pakistan government that Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is suffering from bullet wounds, will be shifted to another facility by next week, which is less intrusive and offers better medical care.

RadianceViewsWeekly: September 1, 2008 – Musharraf’s Nemesis: What luck for rulers that men do not think, said Adolf Hitler. The Fuhrer should know, having proved himself a successful, if rather demented, leader of men. Successive rulers of Islamic Republic of Pakistan seem to have been driven by this cynical piece of wisdom….. Perhaps, Musharraf could have gone on and hung on in there for some more time, if only he had not so enthusiastically enlisted Pakistan in Bush’s war. Maybe our man had no option but jump on the neocon bandwagon when Colin Powell made that rather persuasive call on a cold day in September, the day the greatest military power on earth was shaken to its roots. Maybe it has spared Pakistan the fate of Afghanistan and brought it billions in US aid.   But what the country has gained by joining this directionless, disastrous war is nothing compared to what it has lost. Thousands of innocents have paid with their lives for the Bush-Mush war. And God only knows how many individuals like Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT-educated scientist, have simply disappeared into the nameless gulags around the world. And the whole country, coupled with Afghanistan, has been transformed into a vast battlefield; the main front of the war that, we are reassured, is being fought for the promotion of Democracy and Human Freedom, whatever that means.

NewsPostOnline: September 1, 2008 – Boy found with “terrorist suspect” Dr. Aafia is her son, but denies: Ahmed, the 11-year-old boy said to have been apprehended along with ‘terror suspect’ Pakistani-American doctor Aafia Siddiqui was identified as her son, although he denies that he is in any way related to her.

(Editor’s note: A reminder: this 11 year-old boy is legally a U.S. citizen. He was arrested with his mother in mid-July. International law forbids treating children as criminals, yet he has been interrogated serveral times by the FBI and has been held in the custody of Afghan’s intelligence service for the past month. Knowing that the U.S. does not necessarily bar torturing the children of terrorist suspects, in order to gain information (see video below), it is haunting to contemplate the circumstances that would lead to an 11 year-old boy to deny being related to hs own mother, while yet being unable to give details on his ‘real’ family.)

ThaindianNews: August 31, 2008 – Afghan Government to Free Pakistan Terror Suspect Dr. Aafia’s Son Soon: After repeated requests from Islamabad, the Afghanistan Government has reportedly promised to Pakistan to return soon one of the three sons of Pakistani scientist and terror suspect Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who was arrested in Afghanistan earlier this month and presently being tried in the US for terror charges. The New York-based human rights body the Human Rights Watch had also urged the Afghan government earlier this week to free the child, who is said to be a US citizen by birth.

AFP: August 30, 2008- Afghanistan will free son of Pakistani scientist ‘soon’:  The young son of Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui will be returned to his family “soon” by Afghanistan after he was arrested with her more than a month ago, Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said Saturday.

Two letters from Aafia Siddiqui’s uncle, written in 2004: These two letters are said to be written by Dr. Aafia’s maternal uncle, published in Dawn daily English newspaper, Karachi, Pakistan in 2004. These letters offer a detailed timeline of this case, according to her uncle.

UPDATE: New links added 9/4/08

Daily Times: Aafia Siddiqui refuses to appear in court, in protest -Dr Aafia Siddiqui refused to appear in a New York court on Thursday in protest against the humiliating treatment to which she is being subjected and because of her traumatised physical, mental and emotional condition.

Voice of America: Mystery Shrouds Case of Pakistani Scientist Linked to Terrorists – A Pakistani woman who is charged with trying to murder U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan refused to appear for her arraignment in New York City Thursday. Defense lawyers say Aafia Siddiqui is unable or unwilling to submit to a required strip-search due to wounds she suffered when she was arrested nearly two months ago and that she urgently needs medical and psychological care. VOA’s Walter Wisniewski has more.

Washington Post: Pakistani Tortured, Her Attorney Says Lawyer Calls for Mental Evaluation — Lawyer Elizabeth Fink told a federal judge in New York that Aafia Siddiqui, who disappeared in Pakistan with her three children in March 2003, needs a full psychological evaluation to determine whether she has post-traumatic stress disorder and is competent to help in her own defense. Fink also urged that Siddiqui, 36, be examined by experts on the effects of torture.

Press Trust of India: Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, suspected of having links with al-Qaeda, would plead innocent to the charges of attempted murder of US personnel during interrogation in Afghanistan in July, her lawyer said.

TheNewsAfghan Government Contacts Aafia’s Sister (Sept. 1, 2008) The government of Afghanistan contacted the family of Dr Aafia Siddiqui late on Sunday night and assured Aafia’s sister that they were ready to hand over her 11-year old son Ahmed Siddiqui to the family.

The Muslim News: Alleged al-Qa’ida suspect denied medical treatment (August 29, 2008)  Wheelchair-bound and only able to communicate with her lawyer through a hole at the bottom of her cell door, Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a ghost of the vibrant woman she was six years ago, and looks a far cry from the stark picture painted by US authorities as the vicious al-Qa’ida suspect charged with assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder on FBI officers while in custody.

NDTV Pak-born U.S. scientist’s hearing deferred (September 5, 2008) The indictment hearing of Pakistan-born US scientist Aafia Siddiqui, with suspected links to Al-Qaida, was postponed as she refused to be strip searched. The 36-year-old neuroscientist has been charged with trying to kill the American interrogators after her arrest in Afghanistan. She was expected to plead innocence to the charges. But Aafia could not be brought to court as she refused to be strip searched, which is mandatory while moving prisoners from lock up to court.

Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights (UNHSHR): THE GENEVA CONVENTION Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

LINKS ADDED 9/8/08:

GEO TV: Pakistan seeks repatriation of 5 Pakistani held in Guantanamo

Daily Times: Six Pakistani women have fuelled international headlines in the past week. Five of them are the hapless victims of the grotesque live burial that took place in rural Balochistan earlier this month, punished for going against tribal tradition and flouting the will of the men for whom they were mere chattel. The sixth is Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT-trained Pakistani neuroscientist who was recently indicted in a court in New York “for attempting to murder and assault US nationals” while incarcerated at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

LINKS ADDED 9/19/08:

Daily Times – Pakistan (9/14/2008): Asian Human Rights Commission slams detention of Dr. Aafia’s son (Editor’s note: This story was written 1 day before the release of Aafia Siddiqui’s son, as detailed in accounts, below)

Washington Post: Family Frees Son of Pakistani-Al Qaeda Suspect (Editor’s note: Reading this article, the lack of journalistic curiosity in this case is both puzzling and deplorable.That this paper perpetuates the myth that Aafia’s son, Mohammad Ahmed, was adopted — despite well-publicized DNA tests to the contrary — and that his name is Ali Hassan, despite well-publicized records to the contrary, reads more like complicity with the criminal activities of U.S. officials than an account written by the independent media in a supposed democracy.)

New York Times: Afghans Repatriate Son, 12, of Pakistani Indicted in U.S. (Editor’s note: Again, a deplorable lack of journalistic curiosity to report on a case that is so riddled with inconsistencies, that it reads like jibberish. Note also that they persist in calling him Ali Hassan, despite that his name is Mohammad Ahmed).

LA Times: Afghanistan frees son of alleged ally of al Qaeda (Editor’s note: Again, a profound lack of journalistic integrity to this story)

International Tribune: Son of al Qaida suspect returned to Pakistan (Editor’s note: ditto the above, although there are a few additonal details included, concerning the name change)

BBC: Detainee’s son handed to Pakistan (Editor’s note: Finally a story that appers to be mostly factual and actually calls the boy by his correct name.)

Associated Press: Afghanistan frees son of al Qaida suspect (Editor’s note: again, another account riddled with inconsistencies, not the least of which is calling Mohammad Ahmed by the name Ali Hassan, one of several name changes given to him by Afghani authorities. What a farce)

Counterpunch: The Horrendous Case of Aafia Siddiqui: Where Are Her Children?

Asian Pacific Post: Family Fear Siddiqui’s Death

DAWN: Aafia’s Son Freed by Kabul, Flown to Islamabad

DAWN: Aafia Siddiqui suffering from psychosis

Arab News: Afghanistan frees son of Pak scientist held by US

Daily Times – Pakistan (editorial) Periscope: The Wrong Side of Right

Daily Times – Pakistan: Pak Senators Refused Access to Guantanamo Detainees, Granted Permission to See Aafia Siddiqui

The International News: Chid of Conflict

Ohmy News: Aafia Siddiqui’s Son Released to his Aunt — Pakistani rights activist lauds deposed top judge for taking up issue

Online International News Network: Fauzia Siddiqui refuses to allow media to talk to Aafia’s son:

ISLAMABAD: Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui sister of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has refused to allow media to talk to Ahmad Siddiqui son of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui saying that he was yet in a state of shock.
While talking to Private TV Channel she expressed Ahmad’s profound happiness on return of Ahmad Siddiqui and said that Aafia’s son name was changed many times. “Though, Ahmad had matured but he was mentally disturbed, therefore, Ahmad cannot be allowed to talk to media, “ She maintained. In response to a question she said that Ahmad Siddiqui would be shifted from Islamabad within two or three days and government was also assisting them in this connection. She also thanked the government for making efforts for return of Ahmad Siddiqui, and expressed her gratitude to media, civil societies and people for projecting the issue, hoping that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui would soon return to Pakistan along with her two other children. Similarly, in letter addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, Interior Minister and other officials she has thanked them for helping Siddiqui family at all fronts.
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Could the Bush Administration Order the Torture of Children and Burying Alive of Prisoners?

A simple yes or no would have sufficed. In this House Judiciary Hearing, White House attorneys John Yoo and David Addington are asked this very question, to determine the administration’s torture policies regarding children and burying prisoners alive.  Yoo and Addington are the two leading architects of the Bush administration’s policies on torture. Their testimony revealed few answers (none, actually), as even the simplest questions yielded evasive sleights-of-hand maneuvers, such as the sort of ‘legal speak’ lawyers are known to employ when evading answering a question. Here, with a 5-minute time limit on the testimony, we see the Judiciary committee members grow increasingly frustrated and, at turns, outraged (accusing Yoo, at one point, of playing “Beat the Clock”) as each attempt to get a straight answer is stonewalled by Yoo and Addington.  Longer versions of this testimony are available on YouTube.

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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The tragic case of Aafia Siddiqui: How each of us can help

with 4 comments

NOTE: The post, below, is from October 2008. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see:  The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

There are pitifully few answers to the flood of questions surrounding the case of Aafia Siddiqui and her three children. We know this much: their five-year disappearance began in April 2003, at precisely the same time the FBI announced (then quickly denied) arresting her.

Aafia Siddiqui’s family, attorneys, human rights groups and others charge that she spent at least some of these years imprisoned at Bagram, the U.S. detention prison in Afghanistan, notorious for its brutal treatment of prisoners. It is also alleged that Aafia Siddiqui was Prisoner 650, known as the Grey Lady of Bagram. If this is true, the fate of her children is, for some, too haunting to contemplate. At the time of their disappearance in 2003, her children were aged 7 years (son, Ahmed), 5 years (daughter, Miriam), and 6 months of age (son, Suleman). Her two younger children have not been seen since their disappearance in 2003. Her eldest child — Ahmed, now aged either 11 or 12 — was with Aafia at the time of her arrest last month.

The Story of Ahmed

Ahmed is a U.S. citizen, born in this country. According to the FBI, he is currently in the custody of the Afghan National Security Directorate (NDS), an agency that is, according to Human Rights Watch, “notorious for its brutal treatment of detainees.” The NDS is Afghanistan’s equivalent of the CIA, and is alleged to work in collaboration with the U.S. intelligence agencies in a system of secret detainee prisons and torture in Afghanistan. The FBI recently performed DNA testing to confirm Ahmed’s identity. They have also interrogated Ahmed several times. Ahmed is said to be confused about his identity and about his own whereabouts since 2003. Aafia’s attorneys, along with human rights groups throughout the world, are protesting the illegal detention of 12 year-old Ahmed, decrying his treatment as a criminal suspect, and demanding that Ahmed be freed and released to the custody of relatives. While the FBI has obviously had contact with Ahmed in recent weeks, they claim he is under the control of Afghan authorities, his whereabouts unknown.

“Something is really dirty here. Everything about the government’s story smells…. Whatever happened to this woman is terrible, and it’s incumbent on us to find out what it was.”  — Elizabeth Fink, U.S. attorneys for Aafia Siddiqui

The reports on the arrests of Aafia and Ahmed Siddiqui by U.S. and Afghanistan officials are contradictory, except in the fact that Aafia Siddiqui was shot twice during her arrest. The Bush administration alleges that she was involved in a terrorist plot, and that she was arrested on July 17, 2008 outside Ghazni governor’s compound in Afghanistan with manuals on explosives, maps to NY landmarks, and ‘dangerous substances in sealed jars’ on her person. She is alleged to have grabbed a gun and shot at U.S. officials during the interrogation, a scenario that contradicts the Afghan reports on her arrest. She is now charged with attempting to murder U.S. officials, and is currently being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Aafia Siddiqui’s Medical Condition

According to her attorney, Elizabeth Fink, Aafia’s condition has grown critical, as she has not received proper medical care for her gunshot wounds. Fink is demanding hospitalization for Affia’s physical and psychological injuries. Fink also charges that Aafia continues to be subjected to invasive strip searches in violation of international law, the U.S. Constitution, international human rights norms and standards of decency. The Pakistan National Assembly has issued a resolution demanding that the U.S. authorities provide urgent medical care, including hospitalization, and to provide a female doctor, in consideration of Affia’s religious beliefs.

Those of us following this case feel helpless. Where to direct our voices?  The following needs are vital:  (1) that Aafia Siddiqui receive proper medical attention for her wounds, and (2) due process that reflects the values of our pre-Bush system of justice in America, that conforms to international laws for the treatment of prisoners, and (3) a full investigation into the events surrounding her disappearance in April 2003, when the FBI announced (then denied) her arrest, and (4) a full investigation to determine where Aafia Siddiqui and her three children spent the past five years, (5) a full investigation into the current whereabouts of her 3 children.

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Here’s how each of us can help Aafia Siddiqui and her children:

(1) Demand an independent investigation into this case by calling your Capitol Hill representatives via the Capitol Hill switchboard at 800-828-0498. Ask for your representative, by name. You will be transferred to either voice mail or an aide. Leave a message that you, as a concerned American, want an independent Congressional investigation into the case of Aafia Siddiqui (pronounced AUF-ia    Sa-DEEK-ia) and her three children, and that you request that her current medical and legal needs be met according to U.S. and International law regarding prisoners.

(2) Sign and send the letters of protest at the Asian Human Rights Commission site. These letters are forwarded to President Bush, to NATO headquarters, and to various authorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is important that these officials know the world’s eyes are focused on this case.

(3) Attend her court hearing in Manhattan on September 3rd, 2008. Protests are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Her hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. at the United States District Court (U.S.D.C.) for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y), located at 500 Pearl Street, Manhattan. It will be held in the Magistrates Court, 5th floor.

(4) Send mail, publications or money to Aafia Siddiqui. There are specific regulations regarding these, which can be found, along with contact information and addresses, at the muslimmatters.org website. There is also contact information for her attorney at this site.

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From the Asian Human Rights Commission statement on Aafia Siddiqui:
“We uphold supremacy of law, an independent judiciary and condemn in unequivocal terms all transgressions of law, abduction, illegal incarceration, and transfer of prisoners from one territory to another without due process. We demand a thorough investigation by independent UN- mandated agencies into the whole affair and that all the agents of injustice and law- breakers be brought to the International court of Justice at The Hague.”

ADDITIONAL LINKS ON THIS CASE:

cageprisoners.com page with updates on protests/campaigns to help with this case

dictatorshipwatch.com article containing the text of a Human Rights Watch letter to President Bush, regarding the illegal detention of Aafia Siddiqui and others in secret CIA prisons.

Human Rights Watch article on demands to free Aafia Siddiqui’s 11-year old son, too young to be treated as a criminal suspect.

Christian Science Monitor article, “The case against Aafia Siddiqui, who has been missing since 2003, raises questions about illegal detention centers across Pakistan”

muslimmatters.org article: The Grey Lady of Bagram: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

muslimmatters.org info from August 26, 2008 press conference on Aafia Siddiqui

AP news report: NY charges for womann in Afghan military shooting (Please note that Aafia Siddiqui is a neuroscientist, not a microbiologist, as often suggested in U.S. media reports. Also, note the discrepancy, in this story, between the Afghan and U.S. accounts of her arrest).

canarypapers post, August 25, 2008: What did the Bush Administration do with Aafia Siddiqui and her three children?

What did the Bush Administration do with Aafia Siddiqui and her three children?

with 5 comments

NOTE: The post, below, is from August 2008. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see:  The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

An American Story

The disappearance and torture of Aafia Siddiqui at the hands of the U.S. government is also the story of a country that has lost its soul.

UPDATE: TO LEND YOUR VOICE TO HELPING WITH THIS CASE, SEE “CONTACT INFO” IN RED TEXT, BELOW, and OUR MORE RECENT POST ON AAFIA’S STORY.

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Aafia Siddiqui is but one of many human beings over the past 7 years who have been labeled as terrorists, then covertly ‘disappeared’ into a secret system of prisons, where they are systematically tortured by the agents of the Bush Administration — a government that can no longer lay claim to being quite human. Aafia’s story is particularly disturbing because, in 2003, along with Aafia, ‘disappeared’ her three young children, aged 7 years, 5 years and 6 months of age.
Massive protests have been waged in Pakistan, demanding the release of Afia Siddiqui and her children.
To those uninitiated with the torture practices (and the laws, or lack thereof, regarding torturing, including the torture of children) used by our government — whether at our own hands, or at the hands of those with whom we contract to carry out this torture — this story can perhaps be read with a comfortable detachment. To those of us who have studied the methods used by our government, and have read the stories of those who have — and who have not survived — the story of Aafia and her three children is unbearably haunting.
We cannot add more to her story than has already been published. We can, however, provide links to those stories. We can also add our voices to those who proclaim her innocence. After all, we live in a country where a person’s innocence is presumed, until they have proved otherwise. Or, at least, we once did. The Bush Administration has removed this right for any human deemed a terrorist suspect. For this reason, until our government restores the right of due process to “terrorist suspects” we, at the canarypapers, have taken the stance that our government must be presumed guilty, until proven otherwise.
And, lest any of us think we’re safe from those hands that would secretly imprison and torture innocent human beings, please know that, just by virture of our researching Aafia Siddiqui’s story, we at the canarypapers could legally be deemed terrorist sympathisers or even terrorist suspects. Fact is, our reading habits likely long ago placed us among the hundreds of thousands of Americans already on the FBI’s terrorist watch list. The Bush Administration would like us to believe that such truths belong to the realm of conspiracy theorists. Which leaves us but two choices: shall we resign ourselves to blind complacency or be banished to the minions of the conspiracy theorists? We choose the latter.

Were there nothing to hide, our government would not work in secrecy, would not hold suspects for years in secret prisons, torturing them to extract evidence, while denying their existence or, alternately, claiming the secrecy as ‘necessary’ to their investigation. Were there nothing to hide, our government would not discredit those who, in seeking the truth, ask questions of our government’s secret activities. Were our government not committing war crimes, there would be nothing to hide. We, at the canarypapers, join those who demand answers to the many questions about Aafia Siddiqui and her children. We hope that others will read her story and add their voices to the call for the truth.

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CONTACT INFO #1:

Call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (800) 828-0498

HOW TO: If you would like to help with this case, you can call your Senator/Representative via the above number to express your concern for the welfare of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakastani prisoner being held in a federal detention center in Brooklyn, NY. When you call the number, above you will reach a general operator. Ask, by name, for the office of your Senator/Representative. Once connected, you will either be able to leave a voice mail or leave your message with an assistant. (Alternately, you could locate email addresses for your representatives and/or phone their local offices. Snail mail may be too slow, due to the urgency of Aafia’s needs).

Five primary issues of importance to mention in your calls regarding the case of Aafia Siddiqui (pronounced: OFF-ia Sa-DEEK-ia) :

(1) She is in need medical care. According to her attorney, Aafia Siddiqui’s condition has grown critical. As of Tuesday, August 26, her condition was deteriorating, and her attorney is urging that she be admitted to a hospital,

(2) that Aafia Siddiqui’s 12-year old son (who is legally a U.S. citizen, and is said to be in U.S. custody in Afghanistan) be returned to the U.S., to the care of his uncle, in Texas,

(3) that an investigation be started immediately to determine the whereabouts of her other two children, now aged 9 years and 5 years of age,

(4) that Ms. Siddiqui be afforded the right of habeas corpus and be allowed unencumbered access to her attorneys, including the ability to have legal counsel without being strip-searched beforehand, and

(5) that an independent investigation be conducted to determine exactly where Aafoa Siddiqui has been for the past 5 years, and the role of the U.S. and Pakistani ISI in this case, as has been alleged by human right groups.

CONTACT INFO #2

LINK: Asian Human Rights Commission: URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

The Asia Human Rights Commission (AHRC) site at the above link has an Urgent Appeal Program, where you can direct letters (select from a pre-written letter, or customize/draft your own letter) to President George Bush and various officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan, urging them to immediately release Dr. Afia Siddiqui and her 12-year old child. The governments of Pakistan and the U.S. are also urged to reveal the whereabouts of her other two children. (The AHRC has written separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture calling for intervention in this case.)

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LINKS FOR MORE INFO ON THIS CASE

The links, below, are listed in approx. chronological order, beginning with the April 2003 announcements of Aafia Siddiqui’s arrest (later denied by U.S. & Pakastani authorities) and ending with the July 2008 announcement of her arrest after her 5-year disappearance, during which time Aafia alleges she was imprisoned and subjected to horrendous torture and repeated rape at the hands of Pakastani and/or U.S. authorities while imprisoned at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan. As certain news articles have a way of ‘disappearing’ we have cut and paste the 2003 reports of her arrest:

2003
AP (Associated Press) article excerpt, April 22. 2003: Woman sought for ties to al-Qaida in custody in Pakistan Dateline: WASHINGTON A former Boston woman sought by the FBI for questioning about possible ties to the al-Qaida terror network is in custody in Pakistan, U.S. law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Aafia Siddiqui, 31, was detained by Pakistani authorities in the past few days and was being interrogated at an undisclosed location. She originally is from Pakistan. The FBI in March put out a global alert for Siddiqui, who has a biology degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and wrote a doctoral thesis on neurological sciences at Brandeis University in 2001. She also visited the Maryland suburbs near …
USA Today: Pakistani woman in custody unlikely the one sought
WASHINGTON (AP) — After initial optimism Tuesday, U.S. law enforcement officials backed off claims that Pakistan had detained a former Boston woman wanted by the FBI for questioning about possible links to al-Qaeda. Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, initially said 31-year-old Aafia Siddiqui recently was taken into custody by Pakistani authorities. Pakistani officials never confirmed the arrest and later the U.S. officials amended their earlier statements, saying new information from the Pakistani government made it “doubtful” she was in custody. It was not clear whether a different woman had been arrested or if the initial information was wrong or misconstrued by U.S. officials. There had been several reports out of Pakistan prior to Tuesday claiming Siddiqui had been detained, but all turned out to be untrue. The U.S. officials said that while earlier reports never were given much credibility by federal authorities, Tuesday’s information at first appeared legitimate. The FBI in March put out a global alert for Siddiqui, who has a biology degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and wrote a doctoral thesis on neurological sciences at Brandeis University in 2001. She also visited the Maryland suburbs near Washington in December or January, officials say. Authorities have not charged that Siddiqui is a member of al-Qaeda but believe she could be a “fixer,” someone with knowledge of the United States who can support and help get things done for other operatives. She is not charged with any crime in the United States. The FBI also is seeking to question Siddiqui’s estranged husband, Dr. Mohammed Khan. His whereabouts are unknown. Alerts for Siddiqui and Khan followed the FBI’s announcement last month of a worldwide search for Adnan El Shukrijumah, a 27-year-old Saudi native nicknamed “Jafar the Pilot.” He lived for a number of years in South Florida and authorities believe he is an al-Qaeda operative who may have been planning new attacks. His family denies any terrorist ties and he has not been located.

UPI (United Press International) article excerpt, 4/22/2003: Report: First woman al-Qaida suspect detained: A woman with suspected links to al-Qaida has been arrested in Pakistan, NBC News reported Tuesday, although Pakistani officials said they didn’t know of any such arrest. Aafia Siddiqui, a former Boston resident, is wanted for questioning by the FBI. Her mother, Ismat Siddiqui, said her daughter disappeared from her hiding place in Karachi 10 days ago. She said that FBI and Pakistani officials she contacted told her that they had no information about their daughter’s whereabouts. Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Tasneem Noorani told United Press International that Pakistani authorities were not aware of …

2004
U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) website “Wanted” bulletin on Aafia Siddiqui
Boston Magazine, October 2004: Who’s Afraid of Aafia Siddiqui? She went to MIT and Brandeis, married a Brigham and Women’s physician, made her home in Boston, cared for her children, and raised money for charities. Aafia Siddiqui was a normal woman living a normal American life. Until the FBI called her a terror.
Daily Times (Pakistan) Nov. 1, 2004: The strange story of Aafia Siddiqui
2006

CommonDreams: 9/22/2006 Boston Globe article: Fate of Some CIA Detainees Still Unknown — Missing Boston woman among them, kin say.

2008

Asian Human Rights Commission: URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME (This human rights appeal was issued July 24, 2008. The publicity and outcry from this and other appeals is said to have prompted the FBI’s recent “discovery” and arrest of Aafia Siddiqui).

AafiaSiddiqui.com: This site includes a YouTube video of Al Jeezera news report on this case, which includes testimony by Aafia Siddiqui’s family.

US Dept. of Justice: Aafia Siddiqui Arrested for Attempting to Kill United States Officers in Afghanistan

FBI Bulletein on Aafia Siddiqui: Wanted/Seeking Information/In Custody

The Hindu: The mystery of Aafia Siddiqui A diamond-smuggling Al Qaeda operative or an innocent Pakistani woman whose only crime was her Islamic identity and her headscarf?

Asian Human Rights Commission’s August 4, 2004 article on Aafia’s ‘reappearance,’ as her arrest is announced by U.S. and Pakastani authorities): PAKISTAN: FBI is responsible for disappearances, illegal detention and torture. The American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), initially admitted that they had arrested Dr. Afia and then later denied it. Now, due to the coverage of the UA both in Pakistan and internationally, the FBI has now announced that “Dr. Afia Siddiqui is alive, she is in Afghanistan but she is injured”. No further details have been provided and the AHRC is especially concerned about the three children who were also abducted along with her. It is reported that after receiving hundreds of responses to the UA initiated by the AHRC, the American and Pakistani authorities were compelled to issue information of the whereabouts of Afia Siddiqui who had been missing for five years after being arrested by the Pakistani Intelligence Agency…..

YvonneRidley.org Hoover, the FBI, and Aafia Siddiqui. (British journalist Yvonne Ridley’s account of the story.) Ms. Ridley began investigating Aafia Siddiqui after hearing reports of a female prisoner, called Prisoner 650 at Afghanistan’s Bagram prison. According to reports, the Prisoner 650 had been tortured to the point where she has lost her mind. Britain’s Lord Nazeer Ahmed, (of the House of Lords), asked questions in the House about the condition of Prisoner 650 who, according to him is physically tortured and continuously raped by the officers at prison. Lord Nazeer has also submitted that Prisoner 650 has no separate toilet facilities and has to attend to her bathing and movements in full view of the other. In the course of Yvonne Ridley’s investigation, she came to call Prisoner 650 “the gray lady of Bagram.” As Ridley explained, “I call her the ‘grey lady’ because she is almost a ghost, a spectre whose cries and screams continues to haunt those who heard her.” Ridley’s investigation added to the outcry which is said to have prompted Aafia’s release and simultaneous “discovery” by U.S. and Pakastani authorities in July 2008).

LA Times: Siddiqui arrest brings attention to the ‘disappeared’ issue in Pakistan

Times Online UK: Female ‘terror’ scientist Aafia Siddiqui facing US court after extradition

Dawn.com: Aafia Siddiqui appears in US court, denied bail

Free Detainees.org: Aafia Siddiqui & Children

Asian Human Rights Commission: URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME: The US Congress must investigate Dr. Afia’s case (This human rights appeal was issued August 8, 2008, after Aafia was brought to the U.S. and her allegations and condition became better known).

Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific: (series of three August 2008 articles on Aafia Siddiqui’s case)

Reuters: Pakistani accused of U.S. troop attack gets doctor (Reuters report on Aafia Siddiqui — a prisoner in U.S. care — as she finally receives medical care, 4 weeks after being shot in the abdomen).

YouTube, August 8, 2008: Protest in Pakistan includes Aafia Siddiqui’s sister. Protesters’ signs include one reading, “Can a 6-month old baby be a terrorist?”

YouTube, August 8, 2008: ABC propaganda news report, which makes the “official” case that Aafia Siddiqui is a terrorist, calling her “a female bin Laden,” with the CIA deeming this “the most significant capture in 5 years,” along with the ludicrous, inflammatory and totally unsubstantiated charges including one that she was “told by leaders to have lots of babies; raise little jihadists.” No attempt is made to substantiate these charges but, rather, a jubilantly shocking account is given of her case, with no attempt to fake concern or even make mention of the fate of 2 of Siddiqui’s children, aged 6 months and 5 years of age when they disappeared with their mother in 2003.

YouTube, August 12, 2008: Press Conference in Islamabad on the legal and human rights issues, along with the many unanswered questions in the Aafia Siddiqui case.

YouTube, August 12, 2008: Protest for Dr Aafia Saddiqui/Speech by Yvonne Ridley

UPDATES FROM AUGUST 24, 2008 ONWARD:

Associated Press of Pakistan (August 26, 2008): Lawyer demands Dr Aafia’s shifting to hospital for urgent treatment

Washington Post (August 26, 2008): Afghan Officials Detain American Boy, U.S. Says Mother Held by U.S. as Al-Qaeda Suspect

UPI: Al-Qaida suspect’s U.S. son held

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Links to Human Rights Reports that Discuss/Detail U.S. Involvement in Secret Detention, Renditions and Torture:

Amnesty International (pdf file): United States – Below the radar: Secret flights to torture and ‘disappearance’

Amnesty International (pdf file) Off the Record: U.S. Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the “War on Terror” There are 3 mentions of Aafia Siddiqui in this report

Amnesty International (pdf file): Pakistan: Human rights ignored in the “war on terror” In this report, Aafia Siddiqui is #33 on the list of “individuals about whom there is some evidence of secret detention by the United States and whose fate and whereabouts” were listed as unknown at the time of the report.

Human Rights First (pdf file): Still Missing: Gaps in the U.S. State Department Human Rights Reports on Secret Detentions and Renditions

Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe (pdf file): Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights: Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving Council of Europe member states

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We will add more links as time allows, particuarly links to assist with any activism to help ensure that Ms. Siddiqui is afforded the dignity of human rights and due process. A hearing is scheduled for September 3rd, so the timing is urgent. Please feel free to do your own research and to do whatever you can to help her.

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