Sunday, September 7, 2008

Al-Qaeda Mom or Victim of the Dark Side – The Indictment and Ongoing Torture of Sister Aafia Saddiqui

Sister Aafia Saddiqui was absent from the courtroom for her hearing on Thursday September 4, 2008 and so were many of the supporters that could have been there for her. Having postponed the arraignment from Tuesday the 2nd to Thursday at the last minute, the U.S. government strategically avoided the possibility that a large crowd of protestors could assemble to guarantee media coverage of the defendant’s side of the story, a version that could put forward another scandal tantamount to Abu Gharib or Guantanamo. A small group of twenty or thirty still made their way to the court hearing of Dr. Aafia Saddiqui to express their support and attempt to draw attention to the case of this woman that has been lambasted with the title “Al-Qaeda’s Mom.” Sister Saddiqui was not present due to her unwillingness to compromise with the brutal strip searches that her defense team revealed accompany her every move throughout the Brooklyn prison she is presently being detained in.

Dr. Saddiqui’s lawyer, Elizabeth Fink, filed a request for determination of competence to stand trial and reported a very bleak situation accusing the prosecuting U.S. attorney of being “disingenuous” and accusing the government of preventing her client from receiving proper medical care. Ms. Fink reported that if the judge agreed with the U.S. government’s request to send her to a federal detention facility in Butler, Texas “she’ll be gone,” and also stated that she doesn’t have an ability to talk to her client because Sister Saddiqui refuses to go through the humiliating strip searches that accompany any movement outside her cell. Ms. Fink reported that while Aafia had not been strip searched the first two times she saw her, the prison guards soon realized that by strip searching her they could confine her to her cell and therefore they were still preventing her access to the defendant. Ms. Fink stated that, “she didn’t appear because she doesn’t want to go through the strip search process” not only because of her religious beliefs but because she has a large, long incision on her head and is in a detestable physical and mental condition.

The indictment was put forth by the government on Monday the 1st and included six counts including: Attempted Murder of United States Nationals, Attempted Murder of United States Officers and Employees, Armed Assault of United States Officers and Employees, Discharge of a Firearm During Crime of Violence, Assault of United States Officers and Employees, and Assault of United States Officers and Employees. The whole case rests on the assumption that she somehow managed to wrest an M-4 rifle from four FBI agents and 2 interpreters and fire off two shots before being shot herself by the FBI. There is absolutely no charge associated with her alleged plans to destroy buildings or communicate with terrorist cells, information that is included in the first five paragraphs of the indictment seemingly to tie the case to the “War on Terror.” This is obviously due to the desire of the U.S. government to prevent the trial from concentrating on their ridiculous account that she magically appeared in Afghanistan five years after her reported abduction in Pakistan with plans to blow up buildings in the U.S.

The M4 rifle she is supposed to have used is pictured below.
The most concerning statement made by Ms. Fink was her detailed description of Sister Saddiqui’s mental condition. She claimed that, “she is in isolation.. the only people she talks to are prison officials... and she constantly asks to speak to the FBI (about her children).” She claimed that, “she has constant anxiety about her children” and that “she’s a mess judge,” later claiming that “she is asking for the turkey to be taken off her plate and put in the refrigerator so it can be sent to her son.” However, all her desperate efforts to gain her client immediate and proper medical care were essentially disregarded.

Ms. Fink claimed her case to be part of “the American dark side,” as she revealed in the hearing that, “I believe that this women was kidnapped with her children in March 2003 and that she has been held either by the Pakistani government or the Americans and that she was released in July.” She continued and explained that, “she is unbelievably damaged.” Elaine Sharp, a member of Aafia’s legal team, also confirmed Revolution Muslim’s inquisition into whether Sister Aafia corroborated their belief that she had been detained for the past five years. When asked if Aafia herself was saying that she was held and tortured Ms. Sharp answered affirmatively. When asked if she was Bagram Air Base prisoner “650,” she replied that all the evidence pointed to that being the case.

Ms. Fink also reported a very serious mental condition as she pleaded with the courts to either allow her neutral medical and psychiatric care at Bellevue Hospital or to transport her to a prison in Minnesota close to a facility that specializes in establishing if individuals have undergone torture and long-term detainment. The U.S. attorney fought hard against special treatment claiming, “This is a woman who took a rifle and tried to kill four Americans.”
Still the mainstream press has not covered the other side of the story in detail, something Ms. Fink alluded to in the hearing claiming that, “the government has saturated the press with lies… to prejudice the case against Dr. Saddiqui” and that they were utilizing ABC News an outlet she termed “their feeder.” The headlines in the press certainly highlighted her refusal to show up in court over the very serious allegations made by the defense team. Fox News, for example, headlined with, “A Pakistani woman believed to have close ties to Al Qaeda who was captured with a list of potential U.S. landmarks for a ‘mass casualty attack’ skipped court Thursday, apparently to avoid being strip-searched, FOX News has learned.” Their report included nothing of the allegations made by the defense about her illegal detainment for five years or American involvement.

In a country that allegedly respects religious rights, there is no reason accommodations cannot be made to facilitate Sister Saddiqui’s meeting with her legal team and attending her hearings. The indictment of the case is reminiscent of the methods used by the FBI during their Cointel Program which would have gone by undetected had it not been discovered in March, 1971, when secret files were removed from an FBI office and released to news media. The FBI secretly instructed its field offices to propose schemes to "misdirect, discredit, disrupt and otherwise neutralize "specific individuals and groups” like the Black Panthers. The enemy then was domestic radicals, the enemy today is obviously actual Islam and Aafia Saddiqui has obviously been set up to further promote the cause of American Terror and Hypocrisy. The Cointel Program was responsible for following domestic individuals and groups and countering their efforts eventually leading them to set up false allegations in order to discredit them. Aafia Saddiqui’s situation is similar. She is a victim of U.S. aggression. During the press conference outside the courtroom after the hearing, Ms. Fink compared her client’s situation to a fraudulent case that was thrown out of court within minutes due to the ludicrous charges brought against the Black Panthers in the 1970’s. We can only hope that the same justice will be seen for Sister Aafia. The arraignment was postponed until September 22, at 2:30 PM. The right to speedy trial was waved due to the complications aforementioned and so the case perhaps will unfold over years instead of months. That is if Sister Aafia is provided services to help her survive her present condition. Revolution Muslim recommends that everyone attend and that all do their best to expose her situation and work for her immediate release inshallah.

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