When she was arrested in Afghanistan last month, Aafia Siddique allegedly had in her possession maps of New York, a list of potential targets that included the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the subway system and the animal disease center on Plum Island, detailed chemical, biological and radiological weapon information that has been seen only in a handful of terrorist cases, as well as a thumb drive packed with emails, ABC News has learned.
That haul of information has led multiple government sources to describe Siddique, a 36 year-old MIT graduate, as a potential "treasure trove" of information on terrorist supporters, sympathizers or 'sleepers' in the United States and overseas.
"She is the most significant capture in five years," said former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who said she lives up to her reputation as an alleged terrorist 'Mata Hari.'
And there is an eagerness to see what, if anything, she can add to the thin trickle of fresh information on the activities of terrorists and terrorist supporters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as what if any risk she might pose to national security.
Only a "handful" of captured alleged Al Qaeda associates have had the kind of detailed information on weapons of mass destruction that Siddique, who attended MIT as an undergraduate and earned her PhD in neuroscience at Brandeis, had in her handbag, multiple current and former US intelligence and law enforcement officials told ABC News.
"She is a very dangerous person, no doubt about it," said a senior US counter terrorism official.
"This is a major haul, a major capture for the FBI," said Kiriakou. "To find someone who has such rich information, computer hard drives, e-mails, that is really a major capture."
US authorities are analyzing Siddique's saliva, hair, and fingernail scrapings to determine, if possible, what evidence they can find of any exposure to chemical, biological or radiological materials with potential use in weapons of mass destruction, sources said.
"Her education troubled us. We know that she's extremely bright. She's radicalized. We knew that she had been planning, or at least involved in the planning, of a wide variety of different operations, whether they involved weapons of mass destruction or research into chemical or biological weapons, whether it was a possible attempt on the life of the President," said Kiriakou. "We knew that she was involved with a great deal and we had to bring her into custody."
When nabbed by a team of Afghanistan National Police officers on July 17th, she also had in her possession a one gigabyte digital media storage device - a thumb drive - whose contents included a large trail of emails that authorities are now poring over, sources said. Those e-mails, a source involved in the investigation said, are between "what she described as 'units' and what we would call 'cells'."
In her papers she had maps and information concerning potential targets in New York City that sources say included the subway, Times Square and the Statute of Liberty, ABC News has learned. She also carried excerpts from "The Anarchist's Arsenal" and "documents detailing United States military assets", according to the federal complaint against her filed July 31st in Manhattan.