Sunday, January 31, 2010

Aafia Siddiqui Stands Her Ground at Trial

Sun, 31 Jan 2010 00:52:26 GMT press tv dot com

Pakistani citizen Aafia Siddiqui, who is charged with attempted murder of FBI agents and US military personnel, has told a New York court that the charges against her are "ridiculous."

On Friday, the prosecution at the New York court brought in a gun instructor from Boston.

Gary Woodworth of the Braintree Rifle and Pistol Club in Massachusetts testified that Siddiqui took a 12-hour basic pistol course in early 1990s, the Daily Mail reported on Saturday.

The move was made in response to a statement by Siddiqui in which she said that she did not know anything about firearms and had not taken a target-shooting course.

She also denied taking pistol lessons at the rifle course in Braintree while she was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Siddiqui went on to say that she saw an M-4 for the first time when it was produced in the court a couple of days ago as the weapon she allegedly used.

It was absurd to think a US soldier would carelessly leave his weapon in a place where a suspect like her could grab it, she told the jury.

"It's too crazy. It's just ridiculous," Siddiqui said. "I didn't do that."

On Thursday, Siddiqui told jurors in Manhattan Federal Court that charges alleging she grabbed a rifle and shot at US interrogators in Afghanistan are a joke.

"This is the biggest joke. Sometimes I've been forced to smile under my scarf."

Siddiqui denied the FBI's accusations that her purse contained chemicals, a list of terror targets in New York City, instructions on how to make a dirty bomb, and drawings of weapons.

“To answer your question, I do not know how to make a dirty bomb,” Ms. Siddiqui said, adding later, “I did not draw those pictures. I'm definitely not that good an artist, I can tell you that.”

Sidddqui also insisted that she was imprisoned in Afghanistan over the past few years.

It was “pure psychological, emotional torture,” she said, describing her situation.

"I thought it was a continuation of what had been done to me in my secret prison history."

According to some reports, she had been detained at the US military's Bagram prison, which is located north of Kabul, since 2003.

At one point, when her head scarf began to slip over her face, her attorney, Elaine Sharp, asked her to explain her attire to the jury.

“If you've been in a secret prison, abused, you get more modest. And it's part of the religion,” Siddiqui said.

She also repeated claims that FBI agents had threaded to hurt her children in order to scare her.

She said she was shot two or three times by one person in the room of the police station in Ghazni, Afghanistan where she was detained in 2008, and then shot by someone else.

Siddiqui vanished in Karachi, Pakistan with her three children on March 30, 2003. The next day it was reported in local newspapers that she had been taken into custody on terrorism charges.

US officials allege Aafia Siddiqui was seized on July 17, 2008 by Afghan security forces in Ghazni province and claim that documents, including formulas for explosives and chemical weapons, were found in her handbag.

They say that while she was being interrogated, she grabbed a US warrant officer's M-4 rifle and fired two shots at FBI agents and military personnel but missed and that the warrant officer then fired back, hitting her in the torso.

She was then brought to the United States to face charges of attempted murder and assault. Siddiqui faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

However, human rights organizations have cast doubt on the accuracy of the US account of the event.

Many political activists believe she was Prisoner 650 of the US detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, where they say she was tortured for five years until one day US authorities announced that they had found her in Afghanistan.


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