Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who’s currently serving her unjust 86-year sentence at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, is finally out of solitary confinement.
The hashtag #Free_Sister_Aafia was trending on Twitter this September 17, demanding the release of Dr. Siddiqui.
“During my last visit with Dr. Siddiqui, I was shocked to see visible burns around her eyes; an approximately 3-inch scar near her left eye, a wound on her right cheek covered in toothpaste and a small piece of paper, and bruises on her right arm and legs,” said Marwa Elbially, Dr. Siddiqui’s attorney.
Since then, Dr. Siddiqui was forcibly transferred into solitary confinement after she was taken out of her cell in a wheelchair.
“The fact that I’m not blind is a miracle from Allah,” Dr. Siddiqui told Elbially over the phone.
Dr. Siddiqui is a Pakistani-born neuroscientist, majoring in learning and imitation. She has three young children: Maryam, Ahmed, Suleyman who were also unjustly criminalized without any evidence against them. If anything, they were all too young at the time they were kidnapped to commit any unlawful acts; as Maryam was just 3 years old, Ahmed was 5 years old, and Suleyman was just 6 months old. In essence, Suleyman is said to be dead.
The Executive Director of CAIR-DFW Faizan Syed said that the attack of Dr. Siddiqui’s inmate was inevitable since Dr. Siddiqui reported that FMC brushed off her previous complaints about being attacked by other inmates.
“Dr. Siddiqui repeatedly complained that she was being harassed by the other inmate, but FMC did not take it seriously, which directly led to this attack,” Syed said. “We’re calling on FMC and the federal government to ensure the safety of Dr. Siddiqui, who we believe is unjustly imprisoned for a crime that she did not commit.”
Last Ramadan, rumors spread that Dr. Siddiqui passed away in FMC — which was later denied in a video by Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui, Siddiqui’s sister, who is a neurologist, Harvard-trained epileptologist, and clinical neurophysiologist.
“As you all know, my sister Aafia has been suffering for the past 18 years…locked up in a prison in complete isolation with no contact with family or the outside world. But then, spreading rumors that she is dead, this is cruel; it’s despicable.”
She reported that her attorneys got in touch with Dr. Siddiqui’s attorney and that they knew that Dr. Siddiqui was still alive.
“To update all of you and to alleviate your concerns and to clarify that Aafia is still alive. How do I know? Through my attorneys: Stephen Downs and Kathy Manley. I know that Aafia’s attorney has visited Aafia on the 23rd of April, physically, and she has seen Aafia and Aafia was very much alive,” Dr. Siddiqui’s sister said. “She may be physically and mentally weak, but she was very much alive.”
In fact, her sister has been advocating for Dr. Siddiqui’s justice and revealing the lies told by the U.S. government to cover up their crime.
In an interview on Front Line With Kamran Shahid, Dr. Siddiqui’s family exposed the atrocities committed by U.S. agents as well as the torture and the abuse that Dr. Siddiqui underwent when she was in secret detention.
According to the forwarded alert by Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in 2010, Dr. Siddiqui was “forcefully stripped by six men and then repeatedly sexually abused,” “beaten with rifle butts until she bled,” “bound to a bed, with her hands and feet tied,” “injected with unknown substances,” “dragged by her hair,” “having her hairs pulled out one by one,” and “forced to walk on the Quran which had been desecrated in her cell whilst naked.”
In April 2015, Downs and Manley were with Dr. Siddiqui’s sister in Pakistan, discussing their hopes and aspirations regarding Dr. Siddiqui’s case.
“The overall goal is to get our sister back from America, repatriated to Pakistan. So that’s what we’re hoping to start a movement in that direction to get Aafia back … Obama has two years left in his presidency, and he wants to start the road to peace,” Downs said. “He’s going around exchanging people that are essentially prisoners of war — that are political prisoners, and Aafia is the most famous political prisoner in the world. He has every reason to want to exchange her.”
This September 20, Dr. Omar Suleiman, the founder and president of Yaqeen Institute, spoke in defense of Dr. Siddiqui at the Fort Worth support rally, calling Aafia’s case “one of the greatest violations of human rights in the 9/11 era.”
“If our sister’s not treated with dignity, we’ll be back next week. If we hear that she’s assaulted again, we’ll be back again. … And we’ll make sure that every one knows that this institution that is infamous for mistreating the prisoners is continuing to mistreat an innocent sister,” Dr. Suleiman said.
In their report Off the Record: U.S. Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the “War on Terror,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that Former President George W. Bush revealed on September 6, 2006, that the United States had a system of secret detention running for the “War on Terror,” without disclosing the number of individuals who were detained.
“According to Siddiqui, on the day she left her mother’s house with her three children, the cab they left in detoured from the usual route to the station. The driver took a back road and this is when two black cars pulled up, held the cab driver at gunpoint while the other men opened the back door and took the children. Siddiqui herself was then dragged from the cab and given something that knocked her out,” Whitfield Sharp said.
“Siddiqui said she was drugged, electrocuted, tortured, and threatened with her kids being harmed. They threatened to rape her daughter, told her that Ahmed was dead, and said that they would shoot her baby son and asked if she would like to watch,” she continued.
Similarly, Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who was subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and torture in Guantánamo, Bagram, and the “Dark Prison” without any charges, said he saw Dr. Siddiqui in Bagram detention as “Prisoner 650.”
“We were frightened by the guards not to communicate with her, because they feared that we would talk to her, and we would know who she was. So they told us that she was a spy from Pakistan, working with the government, and the Americans brought her to Bagram,” Mohamed said.
“Had we known that there was a sister over there, I don’t think anyone would have been silent. But to keep Bagram as Bagram — quiet — the Americans put out the rumor that she was not a sister,” he continued.
In fact, Dr. Suleiman juxtaposed the case of Dr. Siddiqui with that of Imam Jamil Abdullah Al Amin in a way that is imperative to confront the bogus narrative that the mainstream media spread to misinform the public and feed their own 9/11 Islamophobic fantasies.
“Our message, as well, is to the American public and to those that have heard the misinformation about our sister. … Somehow we’re supposed to buy the narrative that a neurosurgeon from MIT … that dedicated her life to educating children in third countries, assaulted U.S. military men and was plotting these devastating attacks,” Dr. Suleiman said.
“The system that has Imam Jamil Abdullah Al Amin under the same circumstances for two decades in prison for a crime that he obviously did not commit because the murderer of that cop has already said that he did it — and his name is not Jamil Al Amin. But he’s still in a place behind barbed wires in Tucson, Arizona, being mistreated, and put in solitary confinement. Are we supposed to believe that system?” He continued.
In July 2019, Dr. Siddiqui’s mother, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan before he met with Former President Donald Trump at the White House, asking him to save her daughter whose name was now “synonymous with the dignity and honor of Pakistan.”
“Your visit to the U.S., and meeting with President Trump, is a new ray of hope for Pakistanis and myself that you will not only demand the release of your sister Aafia — but do so with a resolve only true leaders can,” she wrote in her letter.
“Please, all I ask, just allow a dying mother to embrace her daughter and children; to reunite to pick up the pieces and have some closure.”
Similarly, Dr. Suleiman called upon Prime Minister Imran Khan to use his power to set Dr. Siddiqui free and save her from this oppression that is putting her entire life in jeopardy.
“Where’s that voice? Where’s that promise? You have the power to invoke a prisoner exchange. You have the power to invoke her name to free her, as you’ve already said many times that she is an innocent woman and that you will do your best to bring her out,” Dr. Suleiman said.
“We’re calling upon you and saying, ‘do what you promised to do.’ Do what you have the authority to do. Bring her home. Let her see her children. It’s been an entire lifetime — 18 years, let her be with her children, let her live the rest of her life in dignity,” he continued.
This persistent silencing of Dr. Siddiqui’s voice, even though all the evidence says that the United States’ version of the story is utter nonsense, was voiced by the British journalist Yvonne Ridley who called Dr. Siddiqui “the most wronged in the world.”
“I call her the ‘gray lady’ because she is almost a ghost, a specter whose cries and screams continue to haunt those who heard her. This would never happen to a Western Woman,” Ridley said at a press conference.
Dr. Siddiqui’s sister told AFP that her mom and she were threatened that if they uttered a word about what happened to Dr. Siddiqui and her children, they’d all be dead.
“When Aafia left, a couple of hours or so later, there was a knock at the door. My mom walked to the gate and asked, ‘who is it?’” she said. “He said something like: ‘If you say anything or report this to the police, you will have four dead bodies’.”
Amid all of this, the mainstream media have been selling the false narrative about Dr. Siddiqui, contributing to concealing the truth, and agitating the pain of Dr. Siddiqui.
The Washington Post’s Foreign Correspondent Terrence McCoy claimed that “Islamic State leaders want their lady back” just because they wanted to exchange Dr. Siddiqui, even though Dr. Siddiqui’s family had already stated in a letter that they had no association whatsoever with ISIS.
“If the issue is true, we would like to state that our family does not have any connections to such groups or actions,” the letter read. “We believe in a struggle that is peaceful and dignified. Associating Aafia’s name with acts of violence is against everything we are struggling for.”
Counter Extremism Project still falsely identifies Dr. Siddiqui as an extremist, preaching the fraudulent narrative about “assaulting U.S. federal agents, employees, and nationals during a 2008 interrogation in Afghanistan” that unjustly incriminates Dr. Siddiqui.
In a statement, Ahmed narrated what happened to him, his mother and siblings the day they were all kidnapped.
“I remember we were going to Islamabad in a car when we were stopped by different cars and high roof ones. My mother was screaming, and I was screaming as they took me away. I looked around and saw my baby brother on the ground and there was blood. My mother was crying and screaming. Then they put something on my face. And I don’t remember anything,” he said.
“When I woke up, I was in a room. There were American soldiers in uniform and plainclothes people. They kept me in different places. If I cried or didn’t listen, they beat me, tied me, and chained me. There were English-speaking, Pashto, and Urdu speaking. I had no courage to ask who they were. At times, for a long time, I was alone in a small room. Then I was taken to some children’s prison, where there were lots of other children,” he continued.
In fact, when Judge Richard Berman’s declaration “it is my judgment that Dr. Siddiqui is sentenced to a period of incarceration of 86 years” set off a backlash in the courtroom, Dr. Siddiqui’s reaction was “Forgive everybody in my case, please. And also forgive Judge Berman” — which is something an extremist wouldn’t say, or even think of, in the midst of such circumstances. And, if anything, that proves that someone with a heart like hers that doesn’t bear hatred can never be what the U.S. is smearing her with.
Even though Dr. Siddiqui is now out of solitary confinement, she still needs our help to get her freedom back and reunite with her family.
How You Can Help
- Educate those who are misinformed about the case.
- Sign petitions and share them.
- Keep Aafia’s hashtags trending on Twitter and other social media platforms.
- Participate in rallies and virtual events.