Below is the full text of the NBC Channel 5 (Chicago) report on Aafia Siddiqui’s arrest in late March of 2003
NBC News: Woman Sought By FBI Reportedly Arrested In Pakistan
Neurologist Questioned By FBI For Alleged Al-Qaida Links
April 3, 2003
U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly interrogating a Pakistani woman alleged to have moved funds and assisted with logistics planning for al-Qaida.
According to the Press Trust of India in an article published on its Web site Thursday, the woman has been identified as 31-year-old Aafia Siddiqui, who was being sought by U.S. officials last week along with two other men, including one whose last known address was in Miramar, Fla.
According to the PTI, Siddiqui was arrested in Karachi recently after returning from an overseas trip last month. (read full text here) The service quoted reports in the Boston Globe and Oklahama (TV) News Channel’s Web site.
The FBI had issued a worldwide alert for Siddiqui, already said this … a housewife and mother of three who holds a doctorate in neurological science and degrees from Braindeis University and M.I.T. ) Siddiqui reportedly lived in Boston with her husband for several years.
NBC News reported last week that senior U.S. officials that Siddiqui may be a so-called “fixer” for al-Qaida and not an actual member. According to those reports, Siddiqui may have been used by the organization move money and provide other logistical support. One official said, “The Intel indicates that she is tied to some very radical individuals in Pakistan.”
The FBI said last week that Siddiqui may have provided support to another man being sought, Adnan El Shukrijumah, 27, whose last known residence was also in Miramar. Federal agents raided El Shukrijumah’s Miramar home last week, interviewing his brother and father, who later told news reporters El Shukrijumah was out of the country with his family. They also denied he had any ties to terrorist groups.
Siddiqui was reportedly arrested at a relative’s home after being tailed from Karachi’s Qaid-e-Azam International Airport according to the PTI.
There was no word if her children, aged 6, 3 and 9 months, were with her.
Terrorism experts warn that if al-Qaida is now using Western-educated women, it will be tough for law enforcement officials to detect them.
“Being a mother and traveling with her kids would provide the perfect cover for someone to go in and out of Pakistan and elsewhere in support of al-Qaida and not engender one ounce of suspicion,” NBC terrorism analyst Steve Emerson said last week.
Arabic newspapers have reported that al-Qaida had set up training camps to prepare women to “become martyrs” by carrying out suicide attacks on Western targets. The women’s wing of the terrorist organization is allegedly headed by a woman calling herself “Umm Osama,” or the “Mother of Osama.” There was no indication in the reports linking Siddiqui to that woman, or indicating that Siddiqui is suspected of plotting suicide attacks.
Siddiqui was allegedly being interrogated at an undisclosed location. The reports quoted U.S. intelligence sources, saying Siddiqui was “essentially in the hands of the FBI now” but the sources refused to say whether she had been taken out of Pakistan.
Siddiqui reportedly worshipped at a mosque outside of Boston. The Imam of that mosque told NBC News Siddiqui stored Islamic books there and handed them out to anyone who showed interest.
“It was her, using the word loosely, ‘crusade’ to try to bring the word of Islam to America,” the Imam said, adding that Siddiqui was never violent or radical, and expressed horror over the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
But Siddiqui reportedly left her Boston apartment and said she was moving back to Pakistan after the United States invaded Afghanistan.
The FBI is also seeking to question Siddiqui’s estranged husband, Dr. Mohammed Khan. Khan, a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist, was working at prestigious Boston hospitals until sometime last year, when he allegedly moved away too.
Neither Siddiqui nor Khan have been charged with any crime.