KIDNAPPING ATTEMPT MADE ON CHILDREN OF AAFIA SIDDIQUI
November 13, 2010, New York, NY - At approximately 4:00 PM local time today, armed gunmen broke into the home of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's family in Karachi, Pakistan.
The incident was apparently a failed attempt to kidnap Dr. Siddiqui's two minor children - both of whom are US citizens, but now reside with relatives in Pakistan. It is unknown how the gunmen gained entry to the Siddiqui famlily home - which has been under 24-hour armed guard by Pakistani police since her eldest son, Ahmed, was returned to the family and came to live with his grandmother and aunt in Karachi in August, 2008.
The two gunmen, who were hiding in the children's bedroom, were discovered by Dr. Siddiqui's mother - Ismat. Upon opening the door of the room, Mrs. Siddiqui saw the two men, who were each armed and holding large sacs. One of the men aimed a handgun at her, and said "where are the kids?". Mrs. Siddiqui was startled and jumped back from the entryway and began to scream. Other members of the family then heard the screams and alerted the policemen who were posted outside the entry gate of the house, but appeared to be unaware of what was happening inside. Hearing the commotion, the two gunmen then fled the scene. They were assisted by a third armed man parked in a gettaway car nearby -- which allowed all three men to escape before they could be apprehended.
The International Justice Network (IJNetwork), attorneys for the family of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, expressed outrage and concern over the continued safety of their clients. "Those responsible for the March 2003 kidnapping of Dr.Siddiqui and her two children have yet to be identified and held to account," said IJNetwork Executive Director Tina M. Foster. "But there can be no doubt that the Pakistani government would bear the responsibilty for any harm that comes to Dr. Siddiqui's family in Pakistan now," said Foster, because "not only does the government have a general duty to protect the safety and security of its citizens, but it also has affirmatively undertaken the responsibility for the Siddiqui family's safety and implemented the procedures now in place at the Siddiqui home - which basically have the family under 24-hour surveillance." Foster added that "this kidnapping attempt is simply the latest in a series of incidents which suggests that there are individuals -- who remain at large -- that would stop at nothing to prevent the truth about what happened to Dr. Siddiqui and her three children to be revealed."
Three armed men tried to kidnap children of Dr. Afia
Three armed men tried to kidnap children of Dr. Afia Siddiqui from her house in Karachi. Interior Minister Rehman Malik has directed IG Sind to submit report on the incident.
Sister of Dr. Afia, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui told Dunya News that she was in hospital when three armed men broke into her home. Children of Dr. Afia were on the roof of the house. They called the guard who fired some round in the air. Meanwhile Dr. Afia's mother also came on the roof, after which the armed men ran away. Dr. Fauzia said she has informed police and Interior Minister Rehman Malik about the incident. She told that the kidnappers also brought bags to put the children in and take away.
Supporters of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui assemble at Pakistani Consulate
On Monday, November 15, 2010, at 12 noon, a small group of supporters gathered in front of the Pakistani Consulate in New York City to make a statement in support of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. The statement was made verbally and through the delivery of petitions bearing the names of thousands of Aafia Siddiqui supporters throughout the U.S.
The initiative - part of the International Week to Repatriate Dr. Aafia Siddiqui – comes at a critical time in the never ending struggle for justice in Aafia's case. The cruel and unusual punishment meted out to Aafia and her family ironically continues in the "land of liberty and justice for all."
Aafia, 38, is now imprisoned at a federal facility in Fort Worth Texas. Her older brother Muhammad's repeated attempts to secure a visit with her have, thus far, been unsuccessful. He recently traveled to the Ft. Worth facility only to be turned back after his arrival. "They told me I was approved, but there were special rules for her and I could not see her per the normal rules," he noted. Muhammad has no idea of what those special rules are, or when (if ever) they will be lifted.
The initiative also came just days after armed men made an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap Aafia's two children, Ahmed and Maryam, from the family home in Karachi (see reports below). This is believed to be part of an attempt to silence and intimidate the advocacy efforts being made on Aafia's behalf in that troubled land. ALLAH knows best.
The New York initiative, organized by The Peace Thru Justice Foundation and the International Action Center, lasted for about one hour, and ended with the delivery of petitions to Muhib Ali Phulpoto in the foyer of the Pakistani Consulate. Mr. Phulpoto is the Community Welfare Counsellor at the Consulate.
One New York area leader attended, Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Masjid At-Taqwa (Amir of the Muslim Alliance in North America); his presence was noticed and greatly appreciated.
That said, the overall numbers of Aafia supporters was not what it should have been, in a city of well over a half million Muslims. After everything ended, while departing the area, I thought to myself, as long as we (Muslims) continue to allow FEAR and TRIBALISM to have the day, we will continue to be weak, divided and preyed upon from pillar to post. May ALLAH help us.
Petitions from 15 cities, along with pages of Internet signers calling for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's Repatriation to Pakistan gathered by The Peace Thru Justice Foundation, the International Action Center and the Pakistan USA Freedom Forum were presented to the Pakistan Consulate at noon on Nov 15, 2010. This was part of an International Week of Action for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. This photo was taken in front of the consulate shortly after the initiative ended.
The struggle for the freedom of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui MUST Continue...
El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE PEACE Thru JUSTICE FOUNDATION
DHUL HIJJAH 1431 A.H. (November 23, 2010)
Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):
The following article titled "The Case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui: A Profile in Persecution and Faith," appears in the latest edition of the Washington Report On Middle East Affairs (December 2010, Vol. XXIX, No.9, page 36). While it had to be slightly edited because of space limitations, it appears in this posting in its unedited entirety.
Immediately following the article is a summary of our recent initiative (on Aafia's behalf) at the Pakistani Consulate in New York City, followed by a number of other information briefs. Please share this information with others; and if you are not now an active supporter of this persecuted Muslim woman, please consider becoming one.
El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan
The Case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui: A Profile in Persecution and Faith
Dr. Aafia Siddiqi came to America from Pakistan as an 18 year old student. She attended the University of Houston (Texas) before matriculating to Boston's MIT, where she earned her bachelors degree in biology. She later earned her PhD at Brandeis University, with an academic focus on "How children learn" (the title of her thesis).
Not long after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Aafia and her former husband, Dr. Amjad Khan (a practicing physician), decided to return to Pakistan as a result of the corrosive post 9/11 atmosphere that impacted law abiding Muslims throughout America. By late 2002, following an acrimonious separation and divorce, Aafia decided return to the U.S. alone in order to pursue work in her professional field.
In 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice publicly identified Dr. Aafia Siddiqui as someone believed to be an "Al-Qaeda facilitator." In March of that same year, after departing her family's home in Karachi (Pakistan) to visit an uncle in Islamabad, the taxi that she and her three young children were traveling in was stopped; they were forcibly removed, and then disappeared without a trace. (The two oldest, Ahmed and Maryam, are American citizens by birth. Suleman, who was only six months old at the time of their abduction, still remains missing to this day.)
In 2008, four Muslim men escaped from the American controlled prison at Bagram (Afghanistan) and recounted their observations and experiences in a series of interviews. They told stories about a Pakistani woman (known only as "Prisoner 650") who was routinely tortured at the prison. Additional details about this mysterious woman led those in the know to suspect she might be Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
Shortly after the release of a special investigative report by British journalist Yvonne Ridley, an emaciated Aafia Siddiqui was released onto the streets of Ghazni (Afghanistan) in the company of a child she was told was Ahmed. Immediately following her release, an anonymous person called Afghan authorities to report a strange woman believed to be a suicide bomber hanging around the governor's compound. Aafia was soon re-arrested by Afghan authorities and taken to a police compound to await interrogation. What happened next is the stuff from which award winning dramas are made.
The U.S. government claims that shortly after American soldiers and FBI agents arrived at the compound to take Dr. Siddiqui into their custody, she charged through a curtain, grabbed a soldier's M4 rifle off the floor, took the safety off and fired it at the U.S. personnel in the room (while screaming anti-American expletives). Aafia's version is dramatically different, however. She testified that when she heard the voices of Americans entering the room, she immediately thought about the "secret prison," and not wanting to go back. As she peered through the curtain for an escape route, one of the soldiers saw her and panicked. He shouted out, `The prisoner is free!' - took out his sidearm and fired twice into her stomach.
After receiving emergency treatment and being stabilized, Aafia was brought to the U.S. barely alive and charged with "attempting to murder U.S. personnel" overseas.
Of special note is the fact that NOT ONE TERRORISM CHARGE was leveled against her in the criminal indictment. This would be of little consolation to the accused, however; because the presiding judge, Richard Berman, would give the prosecution practically everything it wanted; most significantly, a ban on any testimony that would shine a light on the missing five years of secret imprisonment overseas(2003-2008).
Aafia spent about a year and a half in a maximum security detention center in Brooklyn, New York, in pre-trial conditions that violated the U.S. Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment."
During the short trial that began earlier this year (Feb 2010) there were blatant inconsistencies in the testimonies of the government's star witnesses, and material evidence that clearly favored the defendant. Despite this, however, Aafia was found guilty on all seven counts of the indictment, in what could aptly be described as a reverse form of jury nullification. On September 23, 2010, following three postponements, Aafia would finally be back in court for sentencing.
The government's argument revolved around Aafia's alleged hatred toward, and desire to kill Americans. As lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher LaVigne stated: "This was not some random act. On that day the bottom line is, she saw her chance and she took it." While defense attorney Dawn M. Cardi drew attention to the government's obstructions (i.e. her failed attempts to access "classified evidence" relevant to the case), and the "mental illness" and "diminished capacity" that Aafia suffered as a result of her [now] seven year long ordeal.
As Judge Berman clumsily outlined his reasoning behind the barbaric sentence he was about to impose, he applied a number of federal "enhancements" that didn't really make sense. When he announced the sentence of "86 years of imprisonment for Dr. Siddiqui," Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, shouted out in the courtroom: "Shame, Shame, Shame on this court!" After which she was threatened with removal.
Aafia Siddiqui was the embodiment of faith and grace when she addressed the court following her sentence. She turned toward the witnesses in the courtroom seated behind her, and counseled her supporters to not become "emotional." She insisted that she was content with the qadr (or will) of God. She counseled those present, and those who would get the news later, to not be angry "at anyone involved in this case."
"I am one person, and the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, forgave all of his personal enemies. Forgive everybody in my case, please…the world is full of injustices, I am just one person…and also forgive Judge Berman."
She also stated, "I don't want any bloodshed…I want peace and to end all wars."
When Judge Berman informed the defendant of her right to appeal his verdict, Aafia's response was: "I appeal to God…and he hears me."
In a recent article titled, "Injustice in the Age of Obama," anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan wrote the following: "Even if Dr. Siddiqui did shoot at the Americans, reflect on this. Say this case was being tried in Pakistan under similar circumstances for an American woman named Dr. Betty Brown, who was captured and repeatedly tortured and raped by the ISI. Here in the states that woman would be a hero if she shot at her captors - not demonized and taken away from her life and her children. I believe Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a political prisoner and now the political bogey-woman for two US regimes."
To end on a positive note, within days of Aafia's sentencing there were demonstrations in a number of Pakistan's cities, to demand the return of the woman now dubbed the "daughter of Pakistan." In Karachi alone an estimated one million people took to the streets. But even more remarkable is the fact that there were no deaths, and few injuries or arrests. Aafia's call for no violence in her name was heard and generally adhered to in a profoundly powerful way. And the struggle continues.
Mauri' Saalakhan is a Metropolitan Washington, DC, based human rights advocate, who serves as Director of Operations for The Peace Thru Justice Foundation.
WHAT YOU CAN DO!
The struggle for the freedom of our sister continues. You can help by: (a) sharing this information with others; (b) by writing a letter to request Aafia's release and repatriation and addressing it to the officials below; (c) by making a financial contribution to this ongoing campaign.
Eric Holder: Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001, Tel: 202-353-1555, Email: AskDoJ@usdoj.gov
Hilary Clinton: Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street, N.W. Washington DC 20520, Tel: +1 202 647 4000, Fax: +1 202 261 8577, Email: email@example.com
Mr. Asif Ali Zardari: President of Pakistan, President's Secretariat, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel 92-51-9204801-9214171, Fax 92-51-9207458
Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani: Prime Minister of Pakistan, Prime Minister House, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Fax: + 92 51 9221596, Email: email@example.com
Mr. Rehman Malik: Minister of Interior, Room No. 404, 4th Floor, R Block, Pak Secretariat, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Fax: +92 51 920 2624, Tel: +92 51 9921
Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi: Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Islamabad, Pakistan, Tel: +92 51 921 0335, Fax: +92 51 920 7600, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The ongoing advocacy efforts being made in the court of international public opinion are absolutely essential. Please lend your material support to those grassroots organizations - both here and abroad - who have been sincerely and consistently struggling to make a difference.
Freedom is not Free! It requires struggle, sacrifice, and material support!
You can contribute to the work of The Peace Thru Justice Foundation by sending a check or money order to the following:
The Peace Thru Justice Foundation
11006 Veirs Mill Rd
STE L-15, PMB 298
Silver Spring, MD. 20902
(Donations are NOT tax deductible, but they are full of barakah and DEEPLY appreciated.)
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