KARACHI, Pakistan — The tabloids known as her Girl Qaeda. A neuroscientist who was educated on the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise, she was accused of attempting to kill American troopers and plotting to explode the Statue of Liberty. Since then, Aafia Siddiqui has spent nearly 12 years in a federal jail in Texas.
Now, investigators are trying into whether or not her story might have motivated the British attacker who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue on Saturday. Since Ms. Siddiqui’s conviction in 2010 for “terroristic occasions” in Afghanistan, her title has change into a rallying cry amongst Islamists in her native Pakistan, and her defiance within the face of arrest has made her a hero to jihadist militants worldwide, specialists mentioned.
“Her rejection of mainstream life makes her an empowering instance for the jihadi teams who exploit her victimhood,” mentioned Abdul Basit, a analysis fellow on the S. Rajaratnam Faculty of Worldwide Research in Singapore.
The F.B.I. mentioned on Sunday that the attacker, Malik Faisal Akram, spoke of Ms. Siddiqui’s case, which has been used as a pretext for earlier terrorist assaults and has additionally garnered renewed focus since American forces withdrew from Afghanistan final summer time. In October, lots of of individuals marched to the U.S. Consulate within the port metropolis of Karachi to demand that the Biden administration order her launch.
Ms. Siddiqui, 49, is serving an 86-year sentence on the Federal Medical Middle, Carswell, in Fort Price, about 24 miles southwest of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, the place the 11-hour standoff ended on Saturday with the hostage-taker’s demise.
In a press release on Monday, the F.B.I. mentioned the hostage taker had spoken “repeatedly a few convicted terrorist who’s serving an 86-year jail sentence in the US on terrorism prices.” It mentioned, “This can be a terrorism-related matter, by which the Jewish group was focused, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Process Pressure.”
Ms. Siddiqui, who attended M.I.T. and acquired a Ph.D. from Brandeis College, was taken into custody in Ghazni, Afghanistan, in 2008, after the native authorities grew to become suspicious of her loitering outdoors the provincial governor’s compound.
American prosecutors mentioned that on the time of her arrest she was carrying handwritten notes plotting a “mass casualty assault,” with an inventory of potential targets, together with the Empire State Constructing, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Road and the Brooklyn Bridge. Different notes in her possession referred to the development of “soiled bombs,” prosecutors mentioned.
On July 18, 2008, whereas in custody in Afghanistan, Ms. Siddiqui grabbed an M4 rifle from a police station flooring and fired on Military officers and F.B.I. brokers, prosecutors mentioned. She was shot within the stomach.
Throughout her 2010 trial at a federal court docket in New York, Ms. Siddiqui denied she had fired the rifle or knew make a grimy bomb. The trial was ceaselessly interrupted by her anti-Semitic outbursts, together with her demand that jurors be given genetic assessments to find out who amongst them was Jewish.
The court docket proceedings grew to become fodder for New York’s tabloids, which nicknamed her “Girl Qaeda.” However in Pakistan, the information media portrayed her as a sufferer of the injustices meted out to Muslims by the US after the Sept. 11 assaults and known as her trial a “farce.”
In 2010, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who had described Ms. Siddiqui as a “daughter of the nation,” joined Pakistan’s opposition chief, Nawaz Sharif, in promising to push for her launch. Senators within the nation handed a decision to demand her return.
Ms. Siddiqui’s incarceration, mixed with unsubstantiated experiences that she had been sexually assaulted in jail, has change into a rallying cry for jihadists world wide who’ve dedicated violence in her title.
Islamist militants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria and Syria have made Ms. Siddiqui’s launch a situation for his or her releasing international hostages.
In 2014, the Islamic State proposed swapping the American journalist James Foley for Ms. Siddiqui. Mr. Foley was killed after the group’s calls for, which additionally included an finish to U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, weren’t fulfilled.
Equally, Qaeda-linked militants, who took dozens of individuals hostage at a gas plant in Algeria in January 2013, supplied to swap U.S. captives for 2 prisoners, together with Ms. Siddiqui.
In March 2013, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan group carried out a suicide assault on the judicial complicated in Peshawar, Pakistan. The terrorist outfit mentioned the assault on the judiciary was for “its failure to guard harmless residents like Ms. Siddiqui.”
In November 2018, the Pakistani Senate unanimously handed a decision proclaiming her a “Daughter of the Nation” whose case wanted to be taken up with the U.S. authorities urgently.
One in all Prime Minister Imran Khan’s election guarantees in 2018 was to carry her dwelling.
Qari Sadiq Farooqi, a madrasa pupil in Karachi who participated within the October protests, reacted to the hostage scenario in Texas on Sunday with defiance.
“Ms. Siddiqui is harmless and a sufferer of the U.S.’s warfare towards terror,” he mentioned. “How can a girl snatch a gun from U.S. troopers and assault them?”
However Ms. Siddiqui’s sister, Fowzia Siddiqui, mentioned that the household wished “no violence in Ms. Aafia Siddiqui’s title.”
“A rising and tragic results of Ms. Siddiqui’s continued detention is that our appeals to avoidance of violence are being ignored, as individuals lose religion within the efficacy of these means. Thus we see extremists exploiting this and expressing their anger in a deplorable method,” she mentioned.
Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.