Thursday, June 01, 2023
Pakistani neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui — who has been jailed in the United States for over a decade — looked "miserable and terrified" of the torture she has been suffering in imprisonment, said Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmed.
Senator Ahmed met Dr Aafia a day after she met her younger sister Dr Fauzia Siddiqui after 20 years, at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Texas on Wednesday.
In Thursday's meeting, the senator was 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.
Sharing brief details of the meeting, Senator Ahmed described the miserable condition of the incarcerated doctor which he observed in the three-hour-long telephonic conversation from behind a glass shield.
"Dressed in off-white scarf, khaki dress, white joggers, Dr Aafia [held] a three-hour long telephonic meeting/conversation — which was being continuously recorded — in a small room partitioned with a glass shield," he wrote on Twitter.
He said that Dr Aafia, who was in poor health and her eyes watering again and again, reflected the abuse and pain inflicted upon her during all these years in imprisonment.
"[Her] front four teeth were broken and is having difficulty in hearing due to a head injury. She was continuously saying 'take me out of this hell'," he wrote.
At the end of the meeting, Dr Aafia was taken in chains.
The senator said they tried to keep Dr Aafia's mind diverted by discussing books, literature, poetry and other topics.
"She showed extraordinary verbal skills in conversation about Ghalib, Iqbal and Hafeez Jalandhri and philosophical, scientific discourses when talked on the topics of books, literature, poetry, but suddenly she would remember her children, mother, and the pain [suffured] in imprisonment and the terrible future of the prison, and say, 'take me out of this hell' with sadness."
Senator Ahmed then called on the politicians to get Dr Aafia released, saying that "the key to Dr Aafia's release is present in Islamabad, not in Washington."
A US-educated Pakistani scientist, Dr Aafia Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 for 86 years by a New York federal district court 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.