Aafia Revisited: 9th Anniversary Of Aafia Siddiqui's Disappearance

02 April 2012

By Nauman Umair

The issue of Aafia Siddiqui is very delicate and complex. We all have questions but very few of us manage to get reasonable answers. Some questions are not questions; they are merely hallucinations of our limited "unlimited" grey matter. And some of them are not ours, rather are shoved into our grey matter following sophisticated brainwashing techniques and therefore ‘our' quest doesn't bring any good results whereas others deal with petty issues, again induced within us using the same techniques, so that we ignore the bigger picture.

We all have critics either because we did something extraordinarily good or we did something extraordinarily bad. But, Aafia's critics don't fall into either although the questions raised against her fall into all three categories that I mentioned above as well as many others. The complexity of the questions raised truly reflects the complexity of her case. I'd like to reiterate few important facts in her story beginning from her abduction and eventually her judicial rape.

  • FBI issues an alert regarding Aafia's potentiality being a terrorist
  • Aafia declared an al Qaeda ‘fixer'*
  • Aafia disappears while on her way to Rawalpindi (from Karachi); and according to my research, she was abducted from Karachi by our LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies) following post-9/11 pressure coming from US end
  • FBI denies any hand in her disappearance
  • FBI officially declares her an al Qaeda operative
  • Pakistan's Interior Ministry accepts they handed Aafia
  • Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHR&GJ, New York University School of Law) published a report titled: "Fate and Whereabouts Unknown: Detainees in the "War on Terror." It presented "factual summaries of (28) individuals who may be in secret (US) detention sites" and included known information about Aafia at the time
  • Amnesty International declares Aafia one of the ‘disappeared' persons in the ‘war on terror'
  • Ghost Prisoner by Human Rights Watch says Aafia "may have once been held" in secret CIA detention
  • Aafia was brought back to Karachi and tortured, according to Asian Human Rights commission
  • No women held in Bagram, according to a US Army Colonel
  • Aafia's brother is informed by FBI that she's in US custody
  • A press release shows that Aafia has been arrested in Ghazni (Afghanistan)
  • A US magistrate rules to hold her without bail
  • Pakistani Embassy in Washington issues a repatriation request
  • Never held Aafia, US military (in Afghanistan)

Now let's pause here and connect the dots. Aafia disappeared in March of one year and our Interior Ministry's acknowledgment (which came after FBI declaring her an al Qaeda operative) is coming in May of the next year and coupled with FBI's denial of any hand in abduction leads us to the conclusion that b/w March of 2003 and May/April of 2005 she was either in the custody of our LEAs or the CIA. Also, have you ever asked yourself what ‘alerted' FBI, what was she up to? More importantly, what kind of lifestyle she was living that alerted the FBI? By the way, she wasn't alone when she was abducted, she had three kids with her at that time, why we always ignore them while pointing fingers at her? What took Amnesty International so long to acknowledge her disappearance? Who is responsible for that slack, the free media of Pakistan or its dead-soul inhabitants? Were any legal procedures followed while handing her to FBI? Why was she brought back and more importantly why was she tortured? If no women was ever held in Bagram then who was the female detainee that her co detainees always relate to? More importantly, why the US simply not tell who she was if she wasn't Aafia? If Pakistan handed her over to US and if she wasn't been held in Bagram then where was she in all those years; in the US? OK, let's assume she was in the US but then why US let her go back to Pakistan and how she managed to end up in Afghanistan? And in all this mayhem, where were her kids?! Most importantly, why we always skip this question? If she went into US custody in 2008 then whose custody was she in during all those years? Let's move on!

  • Aafia sent to a Federal Medical Centre for psychiatric evaluation
  • Pakistani senators meet her, she tells them how she was "abducted in 2003, given an injection, found herself in a cell, and was forced to sign papers and confess to things she didn't do; her children's lives were threatened and she was abused grievously"
  • Aafia declared "not competent to proceed as a result of her mental disease, which renders her unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her;" by Judge Richard Berman
  • The tentative date for Aafia's trial to begin

Few more points straight from my end:

  • What caused her to end in such a destructive psychological state?
  • One of her kids is back but what about the other two? Probably, her youngest kid has died, yes, it's unofficial but true. · Above all why she was abducted from Pakistan for a crime committed in Afghanistan to be tried in the US?
  • What Aafia had to go through during illegal detention in Bagram is in grave breach of US War Crimes Act (1996) as well as Geneva Conventions (1949).
  • The very act of her enforced disappearance is a clear breach of UN's Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
  • Let us assume Aafia did shoot at US military personnel and FBI agents but why DOJ (Dept. of Justice) while indicting her ignored more than 5 years of torture altogether? Why they ignored the common sense element altogether that how on earth can a woman so thin and pain stricken cause damage to army personnel so well trained.
  • As her attorney put it: "Picture this woman who is very tiny (and extremely frail and weakened from her ordeal), and ask yourself how she engaged in armed conflict….with six (armed and well-trained) military men, how did this happen? And how did she get shot? I think you can answer that, can't you (and question the absurdity of DOJ's charges against her)?
  • What happened to FBI's alert, by the way, and their declaration as well, not to mention none of them showed up in the court proceedings? All seven counts had to do with her staged clash at Ghazni where she fired at armed military personnel with bullets that left no marks on the walls, didn't injure anybody (although it was close range encounter) and the only injured party was none other than herself.
  • The rape and victimisation that she had to go through isn't an unexpected one. If an army, who's on a mission of moral policing of the world, belonging to world's most civilised country, can rape and mutilate men then it can definitely rape and victimise women but what she went through inside the US (not in a secret detention) is utterly disgusting! In Bagram, she only had to face unofficial degradation (rape) but in the US she had to face official degradation (strip-search) as well.
  • 86 years imprisonment for firing a gun that she couldn't hold, for firing bullets that left no trace, for firing from a close range causing nil injury or for getting injured herself?

So, next time some miserable apologists try to confuse you regarding Aafia being innocent or not, please remind them:

She stayed in illegal detention for more than five years for no good reason. The charges that were levied against her by FBI had no factual stand whatsoever and that's the only reason they never made it to court proceedings but HEY she lost her kids, she lost her chastity (she was raped in Bagram as well as in the US), she lost her psychological balance, she lost her honour, she lost her dignity, she lost everything, for what? For the stupid reasons made by a force known to the world for their crimes, lies and atrocities? And yes, her 86 years imprisonment is based on no forensic evidence whatsoever.

Oh, really sorry, even I forgot to mention about the real Aafia. She was a neuro-scientist, the only one in the world to have an honorary degree from Harvard University; she was Hafiz-e-Quran and had 144 honorary degrees & certificates. She went to MIT and Brandeis, raised money for charities, did voluntary social work, hosted play groups in her apartment, loved her religion, and distributed Qur'ans to inmates in area prisons. She was living a normal American life until the FBI called her a terrorist, a high-profile Al Qaeda operative. Aafia was indeed a woman guilty only of being Muslim at the wrong time in America. (Boston Magazine's Katherine Oxment asked: Who's afraid of Aafia Siddiqui?)

9th Anniversary of Aafia Siddiqui's Disappearance

Nine years ago, Pakistani cognitive neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, along with her three children, disappeared in Karachi in March 30th 2003. Their whereabouts were unknown for the next five years. Throughout this time, Aafia was held without charge and abused whilst in secret detention. Former Bagram prisoners testified to the presence of a female prisoner with the number ‘650', whose horrific screams they would hear. Following demands for her recovery by human rights organisations and the Pakistani public, Aafia resurfaced in Afghanistan in August 2008, framed with the attempted murder of US personnel. Transferred to the US, Aafia was convicted in a shocking miscarriage of justice and was sentenced in September 2010 to 86 years in prison. She is currently held in isolation at the FMC Carswell, Texas, a facility notoriously referred to as the "hospital of horrors." She is denied any meaningful contact with her family and is unlikely to see her children again until she is eligible for release in 2094 at age 122, if indeed she is alive. Whilst the two elder children were released in 2008 and 2010 respectively, the whereabouts of her youngest child, Suleman - only six months old at the time of the abduction - remain unknown, although it is believed that he may have been killed in US custody. Most recently, disturbing reports have emerged that her health is deteriorating and there are serious concerns that she may have cancer.


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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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: questions@friendsofhillary.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Mr. Asif Ali Zardari: President of Pakistan, President's Secretariat, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 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: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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 99212026, E-mail: minister@interior.gov.pk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , ministry.interior@gmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , interior.complaintcell@gmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi: Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Islamabad, Pakistan, Tel: +92 51 921 0335, Fax: +92 51 920 7600, Email: smhq148@hotmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


AAFIA SIDDIQUI # 90279-054



P.O. BOX 27137



Email a message of support to her family support@justiceforaafia.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


BANK: Lloyds TSB Bank

ACCOUNT NAME: Justice For Aafia Coalition


SORT CODE: 30-94-42

IBAN: GB37LOYD30944241160960


Approach your Imams to dedicate the Friday khutbah on 30.03.12 to Aafia's cause.

Organise local events to commemorate the anniversary.

Volunteer for JFAC

Visit our website for further information and action you can take www.justiceforaafia.org

Contact: info@justiceforaafia.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


JUSTICE FOR AAFIA COALITION (JFAC) was formed in the wake of Aafia's conviction in February 2010 by a group of Muslim women activists in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia. JFAC is an umbrella organisation which aims to unite and coordinate efforts on behalf of all concerned individuals and organisations striving for justice for Aafia and her children. Membership is open to all, irrespective of faith and location.

JoinMarch outside the US Embassy, in the company of our eminent speakers, to send a clear message that we will never forget Aafia, nor rest until she is free.

Speakers include:

Anas Altikriti
Ken O'Keefe
Sultan Sabri
Sheikh Suliman Gani
Uthman Lateef
Adnan Rashid
Sultana Parvin
Andy Worthington (TBC)
Omar Deghayes (TBC)


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