“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. (Strength to Love)
“Today you own the pieces of land but tomorrow a land will own you.” Muslim proverb
“You have no motivation to deal with the Muslims except with the language of force…Now you return to bomb the Muslims once again, this time resorting to Aerial attacks and proxy armies, all the while cowardly shying away from a face-to-face confrontation! Today our swords are unsheathed towards you, government, and citizens alike! And we will not stop until we quench our thirst for your blood.” Aafia Saddiqui
On Saturday, January 15, 2022, a 44-year-old British Citizen, Malik Faisal Akram, held members of Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas hostage. Akram demanded the release of a Pakistani woman named Aafia Siddiqui. After a nearly 12-hour standoff, the hostages escaped, and the FBI’s elite hostage rescue team breached the building and killed Akram. Akram arrived in the U.S. approximately five weeks ago on a tourist visa from Great Britain. Malik’s brother revealed he had a criminal record and questioned how he was eligible to enter the U.S. in the first place. British authorities arrested two teenagers the next day in connection with the attack.
What I find interesting about this event is not simply Akram’s actions, but the fact that at least 57 others have died in one way or another in a jihadist campaign to free this woman, Aafia Siddiqui, or avenge her arrest. What thus far has seemed like a simple hostage-taking terrorist event has turned into an international scenario of intrigue and deception.
Who is Aafia Saddiqui, and why were Akram and so many others willing to give their lives for the release of this Pakistani woman? One thing is for certain, there is more than meets the eye in just about every way surrounding this woman and her life. In the end, it all comes down to this, her word against two intelligence officers, and two federal agents. She said, They said.
Aafia is a name rich in meaning. When a well-respected scholar of The Qur’an, Imam Mohamad al-Asi, was asked to share his understanding of the meaning of Aafia, he stated the following:
Simply put, the pedestrian meaning of ‘Aafia is (physical) health. The more comprehensive meaning of it is not only physical health but the health that is inclusive of a person’s physical, mental, and spiritual being. Some linguists would extend that to mean that “‘Aafia(h)” is the physical health that extends from spiritual health.
Aafia Siddiqui, also known as the “Gray Lady,” is a Pakistani citizen and U.S.-educated neuroscientist who allegedly belonged to an al-Qaeda cell in Pakistan. She is currently serving an 86-year sentence in U.S. federal prison for assaulting U.S. federal agents, employees, and nationals during a 2008 interrogation in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government has lobbied for her release while al-Qaeda and other extremist groups have repeatedly demanded Siddiqui’s release in exchange for hostages. Born in Pakistan in 1972, Siddiqui moved to the United States in 1990 on a student visa. She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then Brandeis University, earning a Ph.D. in neuroscience.
What did Aafia Saddiqui do?
The below text was taken from the US Attorney’s office; a legal brief at the conclusion of the 14-day trial.
“PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that AAFIA SIDDIQUI was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 86 years in prison for the attempted murder and assault of U.S. nationals and U.S. officers and employees in Afghanistan. SIDDIQUI was found guilty of all charges against her following a 14-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge RICHARD M. BERMAN in Manhattan federal court.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “As a unanimous jury found beyond a reasonable doubt, Aafia Siddiqui attempted to murder Americans serving in Afghanistan, as well as their Afghan colleagues. She now faces the stiff consequences of her violent actions. We commend the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and other law enforcement and military personnel for their tremendous work investigating this case here and abroad.”
According to the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, the evidence presented at trial, and statements made at the sentencing proceeding:
On July 17, 2008, SIDDIQUI was detained by Afghan authorities, who found a number of items in her possession, including handwritten notes that referred to a “mass casualty attack” and that listed various locations in the United States, including Plum Island, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Other notes in SIDDIQUI’s possession referred to the construction of “dirty bombs,” and discussed various ways to attack “enemies,” including by destroying reconnaissance drones, using underwater bombs, and deploying gliders.
The next day, on July 18, 2008, a team of U.S. servicemen and law enforcement officers, and others assisting them, attempted to interview SIDDIQUI in Ghazni, Afghanistan, where she had been detained by local police the day before. The U.S. interview team included, among others: three officers and employees of the U.S. Army; two officers and employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and two U.S. Army contract interpreters.
The interview of SIDDIQUI was to take place at an Afghan police compound in Ghazni. In a second-floor meeting room at the compound—where SIDDIQUI was being held, unbeknownst to the U.S. interview team, unsecured, behind a curtain—SIDDIQUI grabbed a U.S. Army officer’s M-4 rifle and fired it at another U.S. Army officer and other members of the U.S. interview team. During the shooting, SIDDIQUI exclaimed her intent and desire to kill Americans.
SIDDIQUI then assaulted one of the U.S. Army interpreters as he attempted to obtain the M-4 rifle from her. SIDDIQUI subsequently assaulted one of the FBI agents and one of the U.S. Army officers as they attempted to subdue her. The evidence at trial showed that, while a student in Boston, Massachusetts, SIDDIQUI had undertaken training and instruction on the handling and shooting of firearms.
On August 4, 2008, SIDDIQUI, 38, was brought from Afghanistan to Manhattan federal court to face a criminal indictment obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Trial began on January 13, 2010, and concluded on February 3, 2010, with the jury reaching a guilty verdict on all counts. Specifically, the jury convicted SIDDIQUI of the following crimes: (1) one count of attempting to kill U.S. nationals outside the United States; (2) one count of attempting to kill U.S. officers and employees; (3) one count of armed assault of U.S. officers and employees; (4) one count of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.”
There is so much surrounding this case against Aafia Saddiqui. As it turns out, it has become a case of she said, they said. There are some inconsistent stories being told and, in the end, the truth matters less than who is telling the story. In the Muslim world, the narrative holds that the testimony of a Muslim, even a woman, is of higher value than the testimony of a dhimmi (unbeliever).
In the case of Aafia Saddiqui an entire industry of disbelief and mistrust has grown. Why her? Why have so many died trying to secure her release? Why has she been turned into a meme of the Islamic woman? Aafia is not the first woman to become an activist, even a violent activist for her cause.
Aafia has come to be known as, ‘Bagram’s Grey Lady’, ’Lady al-Qaeda’, and ‘Al-Qaeda’s Mata Hari’; Siddiqui isn’t unique in being a woman jihadi. There’s the Islamic State’s ‘White Widow,’ Samantha Lewthwaite, arguably the world’s most wanted woman, and Sally-Anne Jones, targeted in a 2017 drone strike in Syria along with her teenage son. Islamism isn’t the only cause to have drawn women, terrorists, either. Recall the German communist, Ulrike Meinhof, a founding member of the Red Army Faction, or Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassin, Thenmozhi Rajaratnam.
What makes Aafia Saddiqui such a lightning rod? She was sentenced to 86 years in prison in the US after being sentenced by a US superior court. The Taliban wanted to trade Bergdahl for her. The Islamic State offered to swap Foley. Why does every jihadi group want the U.S. to free Aafia Siddiqui? She has been written about continuously in the Islamic world and upheld as a hero of Islamic women in particular. Her followers continue to grow not only in number but also in rhetoric. On the activist website change.org, they have listed Dr. Saddiqui as having 144 honorary Doctorate Degrees. This is the kind of rhetoric surrounding this curious character. People are giving their lives for her and making great sacrifices for her release. So far three US Presidents have refused to consider releasing her.
I can’t even begin to uncover the journey that she has taken to get to 2022. I would recommend reading the 2009 Guardian article, “The Mystery of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui,” written by Declan Walsh. She is an investigative reporter who really did her homework, but many of her conclusions are inaccurate. Our conclusions are always dictated by our starting point. She starts off portraying an accurate picture of what happened, but then quickly moves to interpret what she sees through her own hapless speculation and limited perspective, tainted by her faulty assumptions, so she leads her readers down a rabbit-hole that is colored by a spirit of anger and mistrust of the Western military and intelligence organizations. This is a tendency that we all need to be wary of.
What few are mentioning, even in this deposition is the fact that she had in her possession plans to weaponize Ebola and attack high-density population areas with weapons of mass destruction, namely a chemical and a biological weapon. My guess is that this has far more to do with her incarceration over pulling a weapon on military and federal officers. Nobody wants people in the general population who have access to the knowledge and the resources to build these kinds of weapons, potentially killing 10’s of thousands of people relatively easily.
The case of Aafia Saddiqui is a great case study. US foreign policy gets a lot of things wrong. This is not one of them. The US policy of not negotiating with terrorists is an iron-clad policy that must be strictly adhered to. Many have suggested that there be swaps for prisoners, ransoms paid and deals made, but in the end, the only policy that makes any real sense is a policy of total non-negotiation with terrorists. By doing so even once, you open a pandora’s box of opportunities for terrorists worldwide.
Saddiqui’s case is so sensitive that, at one point, the Pakistani’s offered to broker a deal swapping Saddiqui for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The US administration refused. Instead, Bergdahl was swapped for 5 Taliban commanders, several of which are currently leading units in Afghanistan that are killing their own people. Negotiating with terrorists is never a good idea.
Although U.S. officials never seriously considered trading Siddiqui, she has been a perennial bargaining chip for terrorists and Islamist militants who’ve made her release a condition for freeing a number of American and European prisoners over the years. She is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
As members of free societies, we need to take a harder look at those we put into public office, especially those who are required to make policy decisions regarding serious high-level foreign diplomatic decisions. It takes years to develop the kind of statesmanship needed to negotiate the minefield of foreign policy. Many in-office today have little to no experience and they are being asked to step into landscapes that require timely, delicate decisions that affect the lives of millions of people.
How to Prevent Afghan Aid Money From Reaching Terrorists: Humanitarian aid must be linked to an effective independent monitoring system… https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/01/20/afghanistan-aid-money-taliban-terrorists/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Editors%20Picks%20OC&utm_term=38836&tpcc=Editors%20Picks%20OC
Texas terrorist demanded the release of Al-Qaeda figure months after the similar call by Anjem Choudary… https://www.arabnews.com/node/2006336/world
For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org