Ms. Siddiqui, who has been characterized as a very dangerous member of Al Qaeda by our government, is not on trial for any terrorist related activities but rather for attempted murder. She stands accused of firing on soldiers and FBI agents with one of the soldier's own rifle. That certainly is at the very least quite suspicious.
This article in the Los Angeles Times reports on some of the information on the trial. We learn, for instance, that apparently Ms. Siddiqui settled down and actually cooperated in her defense. She testified that she did not grab a rifle and begin shooting. She admitted that she tried to escape from the jail in which she was being held and interrogated. She claims that it was during her attempted escape that she was shot in the abdomen.
The article also notes some of the mysteries still surrounding her case: no one knows where two of her children are; no one knows where she was for three years (detained at Bagram? in training with Al Qaeda?); and no one will explain why she was not hit with any terrorist charges (although the article does indicate that she was designated as an Al Qaeda operative by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed while he was being questioned in 2003).
What the article makes clear, however, is that a lot of people in Pakistan are watching the trial proceedings carefully:
In Pakistan, however, Siddiqui is a victim and a hero, a courageous patriot who has withstood years of torture at the U.S. detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan. Pakistanis insist that the charges are fabricated and the U.S. has only one option for righting the wrongs it's committed: Send their beloved Aafia home. ...
Siddiqui's case, however, has given Pakistanis a face to rally around. Demonstrations on her behalf have been attended by thousands, from Lahore to Karachi to Islamabad. Activists have sought intervention by the Pakistani government, which has agreed to pay for Siddiqui's defense team and has pushed the U.S. to repatriate her to Pakistan.
This does add an interesting element to the mix. The US depends on Pakistan a great deal in its war in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government has cooperated, albeit grudgingly, with US forces, even putting up with intrusions into Pakisan by missile- firing drones and special forces. What happens if Ms. Siddiqui is convicted of attempted murder? Will the notably weak government lose what little control it has over large portions of its nation? Will the US find itself at war with yet another nation?
And what happens if the jury doesn't buy the government's story about the circumstances surrounding her detention and interrogation and acquits her? Will President Obama find that she is too dangerous to set free even after acquittal and order her indefinite detention? And if he does that, what will that do to our system of laws?
I know, I know. I'm still posing questions for which there are no immediate answers. What worries me is that some of those questions will never be answered, even though they could be.
I do know this, however, from start to finish, even under the "official" story of Ms. Siddiqui's case, this story stinks of illegality. And I am ashamed of my country for that.
The above was written last night before the verdict hit the wires: Ms. Siddiqui has been found guilty. Sentencing is set for May.
Labels: Aafia Siddiqui