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Aafia Siddiqui, whose release was demanded by a man who took hostages inside a Texas synagogue, would not approve of the man’s actions, her attorney said Saturday.
The unidentified man, who took an unspecified number of people hostage inside Beth Israel Congregation in Colleyville, Texas, said he wanted Siddiqui released from a Texas federal prison, where he is serving an 86-year sentence after be found guilty of attempted murder. american soldiers
The man was killed on Saturday night by police authorities and the hostages were released unharmed.
“She has always said, and I’m sure she stands by it, that she doesn’t support it, that she doesn’t support violence,” said Marwa Elbially, a Plano, Texas, attorney who specializes in Muslim civil rights and immigration.
Siddiqui has long been a cause célèbre in the terrorist world.
She has sometimes been called “Lady al Qaeda,” but ISIS also sought her release. She was convicted in 2010 of attempting to assassinate US soldiers and officials in Afghanistan, and her sentence included escalation of terror.
Militant Islamists have long sought her release, and even major American Muslim groups have said she is innocent and should be freed.
According to a letter made public in 2014, the Islamic State offered to free James Foley, the American journalist who was later beheaded, in exchange for Siddiqui’s release from prison.
Bowe Bergdahl if the United States would release Siddiqui.
In 2012, according to a report in Foreign Policy magazine, Pakistani officials offered to help secure the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl if the United States would release Siddiqui.
Both offers were rejected by US officials.
The nonprofit Human Rights Watch said in a 2017 report that Siddiqui was also the subject of a release demand by Ayman al-Zawahri, once Osama bin Laden’s No. 2 and mastermind of many of the assassinations. Al Qaeda’s deadliest terrorist attacks.
In 2011, al-Zawahri demanded her release in exchange for the release of Warren Weinstein, a captured US Agency for International Development worker, according to the agency.
In 2015, an al Qaeda publication used his incarceration to expose the plight of “our prisoners” in US sites, including “CIA dungeons,” according to Human Rights Watch.
The daughter of an English-trained Pakistani doctor, Siddiqui attended MIT and earned a Ph.D. from Brandeis University, according to a forensic profile prepared for her criminal trial.
“While studying in Boston, Siddiqui had received training and instruction in the handling and firing of firearms,” the FBI said in a 2010 statement.
Siddiqui lived in the United States from about 1991 to June 2002 and returned to the country for about a week beginning Dec. 25, 2002, federal prosecutors said.
After 9/11, Siddiqui apparently became radicalized, according to her profile, and in 2008 US officials were calling her a wanted terrorist.
There have long been reports that she married the nephew of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, but those have not been confirmed.
In 2008, Afghan police arrested Siddiqui on suspicion of trying to attack the governor of the Afghan province of Ghazni.
When captured, Siddiqui was carrying notes detailing a “mass casualty attack” at sites in New York City, including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge, according to prosecutors and court officials. court records.
Federal officials alleged that she also had notes about building “dirty bombs,” according to a Justice Department statement. She was 36 years old at the time.
When she was taken to a “poorly lit room divided by a yellow curtain” and “filled with Afghan officials” in 2008 for questioning by two FBI agents and at least four members of an undisclosed US special forces unit, she grabbed the A noncommissioned officer’s M-4 military rifle opened fire, federal prosecutors said.
The FBI said that she was behind that curtain. Her shot missed, prosecutors said, and the petty officer shot her in the stomach with her gun.
As US officials scrambled to stop her, Siddiqui allegedly yelled, “I’m going to kill all of you Americans. You’re going to die with my blood,” prosecutors said.
Siddiqui was detained, received medical treatment, and was flown to the United States.
On February 3, 2010, a federal jury found her guilty on all charges related to the attack, including attempting to kill US citizens outside the United States; attempt to kill US officers and employees; and armed assault by US officers and employees.
She was convicted by the US Attorney’s office in New York City, which at the time was headed by Preet Bharara, now a legal analyst for MSNBC.
“She now faces the harsh consequences of her violent actions,” Bharara said at her sentencing.
Siddiqui is being held at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, with a release date of May 2082, according to federal prison records.
Elbially, Siddiqui’s attorney, said she has strongly refuted the allegations.
“They alleged that she somehow managed to disarm an American soldier and somehow shoot him. There was no gunshot residue, no fingerprints, no holes. No one was hurt or injured except her,” Elbially said.
She said Siddiqui maintains that soldiers at the 2008 meeting were startled by her presence when they entered an empty room, and that one of them yelled “she’s loose” and then shot her.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, is among the groups that have taken up Siddiqui’s cause.
The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of CAIR called Siddiqui’s conviction “one of the greatest examples of injustice in American history.”
She has also said that she was “kidnapped, separated from her children, shot, turned over to the United States and is currently serving an 86-year prison sentence for a crime she did not commit.”
CAIR Deputy National Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell condemned Saturday’s hostage-taking as anti-Semitic and “an unacceptable act of evil.”
Three law enforcement officials briefed on the situation said the kidnapper referred to Siddiqui as her “sister.”
But John Floyd, chairman of the CAIR Houston board and longtime legal adviser to Siddiqui’s brother, said in a statement that the brother is not responsible for the situation, is not near Dallas-Fort Worth and that the kidnapper has no nothing to do with Siddiqui. .
Before the incident was defused, he called the man’s actions “evil” and asked the kidnapper to free people and turn himself in.
Elbially said it was highly unlikely that Siddiqui’s brother, whom she spoke to on the phone in the past, was involved and surmised that the suspect’s reports referring to her as “sister” could be referring to people who are part of the same group. movement. .