August 13, 2008— -- Long before Aafia Siddique was arrested in Afghanistan last month, allegedly in possession of a list of New York targets and chem-bio weapons information, she had allegedly developed a plot, however improbable or amateurish, to kill Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush and to attack the White House. Siddique plotted to use weapons that included biological agents to contaminate former president Carter's water, according to multiple federal sources.
Those allegations, some contained in the federal complaint filed on July 31st by the US Attorney in Manhattan, the details expanded on by sources spoken to by ABC News, paint Siddique, 36, as a committed Al Qaeda operative, and one whose capture could hold the key to identifying other operatives and supporters both in the US and overseas.
But her lawyer, activist attorney Elizabeth Fink, says the entire government case against Siddique is a lie.
"They used the same stuff 40 years ago...against the Black Panthers, against the Attica Brothers...a list of targets in their possession...why would anyone be in Ghanzi, Afghanistan walking around with a list of landmarks of New York?," Fink asked. "These people are nuts and don't even know how to lie."
Fink, a protégé of now deceased firebrand William H. Kunstler, says that everything in Siddique's past points to a life completely different than the government has alleged in its criminal complaint.
"She graduates MIT summa cum laude. She gets her MS and her PhD from Brandeis -- Brandeis! Eating Kosher and living with the Jews; all of a sudden she turns into an Al Qaeda operative? If that's true this country is doomed. Doomed," said Fink.
According to the complaint, Siddique who attended MIT as an undergraduate and earned her PhD in neuroscience at Brandeis, was carrying detailed chemical-biological radiological weapon information when she was arrested in Afghanistan. ABC News sources say the information, including hand written notes, was of a kind that has been seen only in a handful of terrorist cases . In addition, Siddique allegedly was carrying a thumb drive packed with emails, ABC News has learned.
Those e-mails, a source involved in the investigation said, are between "what she described as 'units' and what we would call 'cells'."
That haul of information has led multiple government sources to describe Siddique 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.
"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's really a major capture."
New York Senator Hillary Clinton released a statement Wednesady.
"Today's revelation that suspected terrorist Aafia Siddique was apprehended carrying a list of potential attack sites including a number of New York landmarks is a sobering reminder that New York remains a top target for terrorist attack," said Clinton.
"Federal agencies and law enforcement officials must continue to be on alert and work together to keep our nation safe. It is critical that we remain vigilant in confronting these threats here at home and abroad. It further underscores the need for the Department of Homeland Security to allocate the necessary funds to protect New York and its residents. I will continue fight to ensure that New York has the tools and resources needed to continue the fight against terrorism," she wrote.