After an agonizing wait of 20 years, Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui, sister of Pakistani neuroscientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, was granted a long-awaited meeting with her imprisoned sibling. The emotional reunion took place at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell, Texas, where Dr. Aafia has been detained for over a decade.
Senator Announces Meeting with Dr. Aafia Siddiqui
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan took to Twitter to share the news of the meeting, expressing his relief and announcing a second meeting scheduled for Thursday. He revealed that he would be joined by Clive Stafford-Smith, a renowned human rights activist known for his involvement in securing the release of Abdul Rabbani and Ahmed Rabbani from Guantanamo Bay prison.
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Describes Grim Circumstances
During the highly anticipated encounter, Senator Khan reported that Dr. Aafia shed light on her harrowing circumstances and the ongoing abuses she has endured. The meeting, which lasted for two and a half hours, was characterized by strict limitations, preventing Dr. Fauzia from hugging or even shaking hands with her sister. The sisters were separated by a thick glass barrier, and Dr. Aafia was not allowed to see pictures of her children. Attired in a white scarf and khaki jail dress, she detailed the daily torture she faces, expressing her constant longing for her mother and children, unaware of their mother’s demise. Additionally, Dr. Aafia suffered dental damage and hearing difficulties resulting from attacks sustained in prison.
Background on Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s Case
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist who obtained her education in the United States, was sentenced to 86 years in prison by a New York federal district court in September 2008. The charges of attempted murder and assault stemmed from an incident during an interview with US authorities in Ghazni, Afghanistan, charges she vehemently denies. Notably, she was the first woman to be suspected of Al-Qaeda affiliations by the US but was never convicted.
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s Journey and Disappearance
At the age of 18, Siddiqui ventured to the US to pursue her studies at the esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and later earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Brandeis University. However, following the 9/11 terror attacks, she came under the scrutiny of the FBI due to her donations to Islamic organizations and alleged involvement in the acquisition of military equipment. The US authorities suspected her of joining Al-Qaeda from America and believed she married into the family of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks. Siddiqui disappeared in 2003 along with her three children, eventually resurfacing in Afghanistan, where she was arrested by local forces in the province of Ghazni.