WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Officials say the man was holding hostages inside a Texas synagogue Demands on Saturday the release of a Pakistani woman who is imprisoned nearby for trying to kill US service members in Afghanistan.
The woman, Afiya Siddiqui, is serving 86 years in prison after pleading guilty in Manhattan in 2010 to charges that she sought to shoot US military officers two years earlier while in detention in Afghanistan.
For the Justice Department, which accused Siddiqui of being a member of al-Qaeda, it was a significant punishment in the fight against international extremism. But for his supporters, many of whom believed in his innocence, the case involved what he saw as an overzealous post-September 11th-American judicial system.
Here’s a closer look at the matter:
Who is Afia Siddiqui?
He is a Pakistani neuroscientist who studied at prestigious institutions in the United States of America – Brandeis University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He attracted the attention of US law enforcement in the years following the September 11 attacks. The top FBI and Justice Department described him as an “al-Qaeda operator and facilitator” in a May 2004 news conference, in which he warned of intelligence showing plans for an attack by al-Qaeda in the coming months .
In 2008, he was detained by the authorities in Afghanistan. US officials said they found handwritten notes from him that discussed the making of the so-called “dirty bomb” and listed various US locations that were targeted in a “mass casualty attack”. can go.
Inside an interview room at an Afghan police compound, officials say, he grabbed a US Army officer’s M-4 rifle and opened fire on members of the US team assigned to interrogate him.
He was convicted in 2010 On charges including attempting to kill American citizens outside the United States. During his sentencing hearings, he made belligerent statements in which he delivered a message of world peace – and even pardoned the judge. She expressed dismay at the arguments of her own lawyers who said she deserved leniency as she was mentally ill.
“I’m not crazy,” she said at one point. “I don’t agree with that.”
What was the reaction?
Pakistani authorities immediately condemned the sentence, which led to protests in several cities and criticism in the media.
The then prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, called her the “daughter of the nation” and vowed to campaign for her release from prison.
In the years that followed, Pakistani leaders have openly considered the swap or deals that may result in his release.
Faizan Syed, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Dallas Fort-Worth Texas, said the group regards Siddiqui as “caught in the war on terror” as well as a political prisoner who has been wronged through flawed evidence. was alleged. , Yet he strongly condemned the captivity, calling it wrong, heinous and “something that is completely undermining our efforts to release Dr. IIFA.”
He also has the support of accused militants in the United States. An Ohio man who admitted he had plotted to kill US military members after receiving training in Syria also planned to move to Texas and attack a federal prison where Siddiqui would be held in an attempt to free him. Used to be. A man named Abdirahman Sheikh Mohammed was sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2018.
What’s the latest on Siddiqui’s captivity?
Siddiqui is being held in a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas. According to court documents, in July he was attacked by another prisoner and was seriously injured.
In a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Siddiqui’s lawyers said that another prisoner “broke a coffee mug full of hot liquid” in his face. When Siddiqui twisted herself into a fetal position, the other woman began punching and kicking her, injuring her so severely that she had to be taken in a wheelchair to the prison’s medical unit, the suit says.
The lawsuit states that Siddiqui had burns in his eye and a three-inch mark near his left eye. He also has bruises on his arms and legs and also has injuries on his cheeks.
The attack prompted protests by human rights activists and religious groups, demanding improvements in prison conditions. Activists have also called on the Pakistani government to fight for his release from US custody.
Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington and Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas contributed to this report.