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Tuesday April 23, 2024

Dr Aafia Siddiqui meets sister for first time in 20 years

Situation "alarming", but road for meetings opening up, says Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan

By Web Desk
May 31, 2023
Dr Aafia Siddiqui. — Twitter/@SenatorMushtaq
Dr Aafia Siddiqui. — Twitter/@SenatorMushtaq

After waiting for 20 years, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui finally met her elder sister Dr Aafia Siddiqui — a Pakistani neuroscientist jailed in the United States for over a decade — at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Texas, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan said on Wednesday.

The JI senator took to Twitter to share the news and said that another meeting with Dr Aafia is scheduled for Thursday.

In the meeting, he will be accompanied by Clive Stafford-Smith — a prominent human rights activist who also helped liberate Abdul Rabbani and Ahmed Rabbani from the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison.

“Tomorrow I will meet Dr Aafia in prison along with Dr Fauzia and Clive Stafford-Smith,” Khan tweeted.

In his tweet, the senator shed light on the incarcerated doctor’s plight; however, he said that this has opened up a way for more "discussions and meetings".

He also urged people to raise their voices for Dr Aafia’s release.

Grim circumstances

Moreover, Senator Khan recounted the events of the long-delayed meeting, which lasted for two and a half hours and in which the imprisoned doctor narrated her grim circumstances and the tortures she was being subjected to.

“This meeting took place after 20 years and continued for two and a half hours, Dr. Fauzia wasn't allowed to hug, or shake hands with her sister. Dr Fauzia was not allowed to show Dr Aafia the pictures of her children. The meeting took place inside a jail room with a thick glass between them. Aafia was in a white scarf and khaki jail dress. ” Khan wrote.

He further added: "In the first hour of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Dr Aafia shared the details of the torture she was going through every day. Dr Aafia said that she misses her mother and children all the time (she does not know about the death of their mother). Dr Aafia's front teeth were knocked out/lost due to an attack in prison. She also had difficulty hearing due to a head injury."

Who is Dr Aafia Siddiqui?

A US-educated Pakistani scientist, Dr Aafia Siddiqui was jailed in 2010 for 86 years by a New York federal district court in September 2008 on charges of attempted murder and assault, stemming from an incident during an interview with the US authorities in Ghazni, Afghanistan — charges that she denied.

She was the first woman to be suspected of Al-Qaeda links by the US, but never convicted of it.

At 18 years old Siddiqui travelled to the US, where her brother lived, to study at Boston's prestigious MIT, later earning a PhD in neuroscience at Brandeis University.

But after the 9/11 terror attacks of 2001, she came up on the FBI's radar for donations to Islamic organisations and was linked to the purchase of $10,000 worth of night-vision goggles and books on warfare.

The US suspected she joined Al-Qaeda from America, returning to Pakistan where she married into the family of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — an architect of the 9/11 attacks.

She disappeared in around 2003, along with her three children, in Karachi.

Five years later she turned up in Pakistan's war-torn neighbour Afghanistan, where she was arrested by local forces in the restive southeastern province of Ghazni.