August 5, 2008 -- A US trained scientist wanted for questioning in connection with terrorism cases has been shipped to New York and charged with attempted murder after a shootout with her would-be questioners following her arrest in Afghanistan last month, the US Attorney in New York said Monday.
According to the FBI and the US Attorney, the woman, Aafia Siddiqui, is scheduled to be arraigned before a federal magistrate in Manhattan Tuesday. The FBI had sought her for questioning in connection with assisting key al Qaeda operatives now detained at Guantanamo Bay.
The day after her arrest by Afghani authorities on July 17th, Siddiqui was shot twice in the torso, US officials said, when she grabbed a US soldier's M-4 carbine and attempted to shoot another officer as a team of US soldiers and FBI agents prepared to question her. A US interpreter threw off her aim when he pushed the gun. She then was shot twice with a .9 millimeter handgun, authorities said. According to the US Government, despite her wounds, she shouted that she "wanted to kill Americans," and struggled with her captors before they subdued her.
According to a joint press release issued together with the New York City Police Department, Siddiqui was arrested outside the Ghazni governor's compound by Ghazni Province Afghanistan National Police.
The ANP officers "questioned Siddiqui, regarded her as suspicious, and searched her handbag. In it, they found numerous documents describing the creation of explosives, as well as excerpts from the Anarchist's Arsenal."
The papers also "included descriptions of various landmarks in the United States, including in New York City." Siddiqui had been wanted for questioning by the FBI in connection with allegedly assisting key Al Qaeda operatives in the past.
According to the FBI and US Attorney, on July 18, "a party of United States personnel, including two FBI special agents, a United States Army Warrant Officer, a United States Army Captain, and United States military interpreters, arrived at the Afghan facility where Siddiqui was being held. The personnel entered a second floor meeting room -- unaware that Siddiqui was being held there, unsecured, behind a curtain."
"The Warrant Officer took a seat and placed his United States Army M-4 rifle on the floor next to the curtain. Shortly after the meeting began, the Captain heard a woman yell from the curtain and, when he turned, saw Siddiqui holding the Warrant Officer's rifle and pointing it directly at the Captain."
Siddiqui said, "May the blood of [unintelligible] be directly on your [unintelligible, possibly head or hands]." The interpreter seated closest to Siddiqui lunged at her and pushed the rifle away as Siddiqui pulled the trigger. Siddiqui fired at least two shots but no one was hit. 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."
According to a government statement on Siddiqui issued a few years ago, Siddiqui allegedly aided Majid Khan in obtaining documents to re-enter the United States. The New York Times reports "the statement said Mr. Khan was directed by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief organizer of the Sept. 11 plot, to conduct research on poisoning reservoirs and blowing up gas stations in the United States. The statement also said Mr. Khan had delivered money for terrorist attacks to another Qaeda operative and discussed a plan to smuggle explosives into the United States."
Described on her Wikipedia page as a 36-year-old MIT graduate and a Pakistani national, Siddique, even as the government asserted it wanted her for questioning was suspected by human rights groups as being among the "ghost prisoners" held in secret prisons maintained in the past by US intelligence agencies.