A closer look at the case of Aafia Siddiqui, imprisoned in Texas


WASHINGTON (AP) – Man who was held hostage in a Texas synagogue on Saturday demanded the release of a Pakistani woman who is jailed nearby accused of trying to kill members of the service American in Afghanistan.

The hostage incident ended Saturday night with the hostages safe and the man who had them dead, authorities said.

Aafia Siddiqui, a woman on parole, is serving an 86-year prison sentence after being sentenced in Manhattan in 2010 on charges of attempting to shoot two Army officers two years earlier. -American while detained in Afghanistan.

For the Justice Department, which had accused Siddiqui of being an al-Qaeda agent, it was a major conviction in the fight against international extremism. But for his supporters, many of whom believed in his innocence, the case embodied what they considered a post-9/11 American judicial system.

A look at the case:


She is a Pakistani neuroscientist who studied in the United States at prestigious institutions: Brandeis University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

It caught the attention of U.S. law enforcement in the years following the 9/11 attacks. The top FBI and Justice Department described her as an “al Qaeda operative and facilitator” at a press conference in May 2004 in which they warned that intelligence services were showing that Al Qaeda was planning. an attack in the coming months.

In 2008, she was detained by authorities in Afghanistan. U.S. officials say they found in their possession handwritten notes that spoke of the construction of so-called dirty bombs and listed several places in the United States that could be the target of a “mass casualty attack.”

In an interview room at an Afghan police complex, authorities say, he grabbed an M-4 rifle from a U.S. Army officer and opened fire on members of the northern team. -American assigned to interrogate her.

She was convicted in 2010 on charges such as attempting to kill American nationals outside the United States. At his sentencing hearing, he made rambling statements in which he delivered a message of world peace and also pardoned the judge. He expressed frustration at the arguments of his own lawyers who said he deserved indulgence because he was mentally ill.

“I’m not paranoid,” he said at one point. “I don’t agree with that.”


Pakistani officials immediately denounced the punishment, prompting protests in several cities and criticism from the media.

The then prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, called her the “daughter of the nation” and vowed to campaign for her release from prison.

In later years, Pakistani leaders have openly raised the idea of ​​exchanges or agreements that could lead to their release.

Faizan Syed, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the American-Islamic Relations Council, said the group believes Siddiqui has been “caught up in the war on terror,” as well as a political prisoner who was wrongly charged. for erroneous tests. However, he strongly condemned the hostage-taking, calling it wrong, hateful and “something that is completely undermining our efforts to free Dr. Aaifa.”

He has also garnered the support of accused militants in the United States. An Ohio man who admitted he conspired to kill members of the U.S. military after training in Syria also planned to fly to Texas and attack the federal prison where Siddiqui is being held in an attempt to free her. The man, Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, was sentenced in 2018 to 22 years in prison.


Siddiqui is being held in a federal prison in Fort Worth. In July, she was attacked by another inmate at the facility and suffered serious injuries, according to court documents.

In a lawsuit against the Federal Prisons Office, Siddiqui’s lawyers said another inmate “broke a cup of coffee full of hot liquid” in her face. When Siddiqui crawled into the fetal position, the other woman began punching and kicking her, leaving her with such serious injuries that she had to be taken in a wheelchair to the prison medical unit. says the demand.

Siddiqui was left with burns around his eyes and a three-inch scar near his left eye, the lawsuit says. He also suffered bruises on his arms and legs and an injury to his cheek.

The attack sparked protests from human rights activists and religious groups and calls for improvements in prison conditions. Activists have also called on the Pakistani government to fight for his release from US custody.


Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington and Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.