Several news agencies are describing the capture in Afghanistan last month of Aafia Siddiqui, a 1995 graduate of MIT who later earned a doctorate in neuroscience at Brandeis, as the capture of most important al Qaeda operative since 2003.
The Pakistani scientist has been on the FBI’s top list of suspects wanted for questioning. She also had become a favorite issue for nationalists in Pakistan and the international leftist community which contended that Siddiqui had been captured several years ago, tortured, and held anonymously in Bagram Prison.
Clearly, they were wrong.
The Federal Complaint filed July 31th in the Southern District of New York provides the following details of her arrest.
b. On or about the evening of July 17, 2008, officers of the Ghazni Province Afghanistan National Police (“ANP”) discovered a Pakistani woman, later identified as SIDDIQUI, along with a teenage boy, outside the Ghazni governor’s compound. ANP officers questioned SIDDIQUI in the local dialects of Dari and Pashtu. SIDDIQUI did not respond and appeared to speak only Urdu, indicating that she was a foreigner.
c. Regarding SIDDIQUI as suspicious, ANP officers searched her handbag and found numerous documents describing the creation of explosives, chemical weapons, and other weapons involving biological material and radiological agents. SIDDIQUI’s papers included descriptions of various landmarks in the United States, including in New York City. In addition, among SIDDIQUI’s personal effects were documents detailing United States military assets, excerpts from the Anarchist’s Arsenal, and a one gigabyte (1 gb) digital media storage device (thumb drive).
d. SIDDIQUI was also in possession of numerous chemical substances in gel and liquid form that were sealed in bottles and glass jars.
Shootout at Police Station:
a. On or about July 18, 2008, a party of United States personnel, including two FBI special agents, a United States Army Warrant Officer (the “Warrant Officer”), a United States Army Captain (the “Captain”), and United States military interpreters, arrived at the Afghan facility where AAFIA SIDDIQUI, the defendant, was being held.
b. The personnel entered a second floor meeting room. A yellow curtain was stretched across the length of that room, concealing a portion of it from sight. None of the United States personnel were aware that SIDDIQUI was being held, unsecured, behind the curtain.
c. The Warrant Officer took a seat with a solid wall behind him and the curtain to his right. The Warrant Officer placed his United States Army M-4 rifle on the floor to his right next to the curtain, near his right foot. The weapon was loaded, but was on safe.
d. Shortly after the meeting began, the Captain heard a woman’s voice yell from the vicinity of the curtain. The Captain turned to the noise and saw SIDDIQUI in the portion of the room behind the curtain, which was now drawn slightly back. SIDDIQUI was holding the Warrant Officer’s rifle and pointing it directly at the Captain.
e. The Captain heard SIDDIQUI say in English, “May the blood of [unintelligible] be directly on your [unintelligible, possibly head or hands].” The Captain saw an interpreter (“Interpreter 1”), who was seated closest to SIDDIQUI, lunge at SIDDIQUI and push the rifle away as SIDDIQUI pulled the trigger.
f. The Warrant Officer saw and heard SIDDIQUI fire at least two shots as Interpreter 1 tried to wrestle the gun from her. No one was hit. The Warrant Officer heard SIDDIQUI exclaim, “Allah Akbar!” Another interpreter (“Interpreter 2”) heard SIDDIQUI yell in English, “Get the fuck out of here”, as she fired the rifle. The Warrant Officer returned fire with a 9 mm service pistol and fired approximately two rounds at SIDDIQUI’s torso, hitting her at least once.
g. Despite being shot, SIDDIQUI struggled with the officers when they tried to subdue her; she struck and kicked them while shouting in English that she wanted to kill Americans. Interpreter 2 also saw SIDDIQUI strike and kick the officers trying to restrain her. After being subdued, SIDDIQUI temporarily lost consciousness. The agents and officers then rendered medical aid to SIDDIQUI.