By Nauman Umair
The issue of Aafia Siddiqui is very delicate and complex. We all have questions but very few of us manage to get reasonable answers. Some questions are not questions; they are merely hallucinations of our limited “unlimited” grey matter. And some of them are not ours, rather are shoved into our grey matter following sophisticated brainwashing techniques and therefore ‘our’ quest doesn’t bring any good results whereas others deal with petty issues, again induced within us using the same techniques, so that we ignore the bigger picture.
We all have critics either because we did something extraordinarily good or we did something extraordinarily bad. But, Aafia’s critics don’t fall into either although the questions raised against her fall into all three categories that I mentioned above as well as many others. ">The complexity of the questions raised truly reflects the complexity of her case. I’d like to reiterate few important facts in her story beginning from her abduction and eventually her judicial rape.
- 18/03/03 | FBI issues an alert regarding Aafia’s potentiality being a terrorist
- 29/03/03 | Aafia declared an al Qaeda ‘fixer’*
- 30/03/03 | Aafia disappears while on her way to Rawalpindi (from Karachi); and according to my research, she was abducted from Karachi by our LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies) following post-9/11 pressure coming from US end
- 04/04/03 | FBI denies any hand in her disappearance
- 26/05/03 | FBI officially declares her an al Qaeda operative
- 28/05/04 | Pakistan’s Interior Ministry accepts they handed Aafia
- ??/??/05 | Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHR&GJ, New York University School of Law) published a report titled: “Fate and Whereabouts Unknown: Detainees in the “War on Terror.” It presented “factual summaries of (28) individuals who may be in secret (US) detention sites” and included known information about Aafia at the time
- ??/??/06 | Amnesty International declares Aafia one of the ‘disappeared’ persons in the ‘war on terror’
- 28/02/07 | Ghost Prisoner by Human Rights Watch says Aafia “may have once been held” in secret CIA detention
- ??/02/08 | Aafia was brought back to Karachi and tortured, according to Asian Human Rights commission
- 11/07/08 | No women held in Bagram, according to a US Army Colonel
- 31/07/08 | Aafia’s brother is informed by FBI that she’s in US custody
- 04/08/08 | A press release shows that Aafia has been arrested in Ghazni (Afghanistan)
- 06/08/08 | A US magistrate rules to hold her without bail
- 12/08/08 | Pakistani Embassy in Washington issues a repatriation request
- 13/08/08 | Never held Aafia, US military (in Afghanistan)
- 02/10/2008 | Aafia sent to a Federal Medical Centre for psychiatric evaluation
- 06/10/2008 | Pakistani senators meet her, she tells them how she was “abducted in 2003, given an injection, found herself in a cell, and was forced to sign papers and confess to things she didn’t do; her children’s lives were threatened and she was abused grievously”
- 17/11/2008 | Aafia declared “not competent to proceed as a result of her mental disease, which renders her unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her;” by Judge Richard Berman
- 09/03/2009 | The tentative date for Aafia’s trial to begin
Few more points straight from my end:
- What caused her to end in such a destructive psychological state?
- One of her kids is back but what about the other two? Probably, her youngest kid has died, yes, it’s unofficial but true. · Above all why she was abducted from Pakistan for a crime committed in Afghanistan to be tried in the US?
- What Aafia had to go through during illegal detention in Bagram is in grave breach of US War Crimes Act (1996) as well as Geneva Conventions (1949).
- The very act of her enforced disappearance is a clear breach of UN’s Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
- Let us assume Aafia did shoot at US military personnel and FBI agents but why DOJ (Dept. of Justice) while indicting her ignored more than 5 years of torture altogether? Why they ignored the common sense element altogether that how on earth can a woman so thin and pain stricken cause damage to army personnel so well trained.
- As her attorney put it: “Picture this woman who is very tiny (and extremely frail and weakened from her ordeal), and ask yourself how she engaged in armed conflict….with six (armed and well-trained) military men, how did this happen? And how did she get shot? I think you can answer that, can’t you (and question the absurdity of ">DOJ’s charges against her)?
- What happened to FBI’s alert, by the way, and their declaration as well, not to mention none of them showed up in the court proceedings? All seven counts had to do with her staged clash at Ghazni where she fired at armed military personnel with bullets that left no marks on the walls, didn’t injure anybody (although it was close range encounter) and the only injured party was none other than herself.
- The rape and victimisation that she had to go through isn’t an unexpected one. If an army, who’s on a mission of moral policing of the world, belonging to world’s most civilised country, can rape and mutilate men then it can definitely rape and victimise women but what she went through inside the US (not in a secret detention) is utterly disgusting! In Bagram, she only had to face unofficial degradation (rape) but in the US she had to face official degradation (strip-search) as well.
- 86 years imprisonment for firing a gun that she couldn’t hold, for firing bullets that left no trace, for firing from a close range causing nil injury or for getting injured herself?
So, next time some miserable apologists try to confuse you regarding Aafia being innocent or not, please remind them:
She stayed in illegal detention for more than five years for no good reason. The charges that were levied against her by FBI had no factual stand whatsoever and that’s the only reason they never made it to court proceedings but HEY she lost her kids, she lost her chastity (she was raped in Bagram as well as in the US), she lost her psychological balance, she lost her honour, she lost her dignity, she lost everything, for what? For the stupid reasons made by a force known to the world for their crimes, lies and atrocities? And yes, her 86 years imprisonment is based on no forensic evidence whatsoever.
Oh, really sorry, even I forgot to mention about the real Aafia. She was a neuro-scientist, the only one in the world to have an honorary degree from Harvard University; she was Hafiz-e-Quran and had 144 honorary degrees & certificates. She went to MIT and Brandeis, raised money for charities, did voluntary social work, hosted play groups in her apartment, loved her religion, and distributed Qur’ans to inmates in area prisons. She was living a normal American life until the FBI called her a terrorist, a high-profile Al Qaeda operative. Aafia was indeed a woman guilty only of being Muslim at the wrong time in America. (Boston Magazine’s Katherine Oxment asked: Who’s afraid of Aafia Siddiqui?)
About the author
Nauman Umair is a Muslim by choice, humanist by religion, accountant by profession and a freelance UK based activist.