Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page
NEW YORK—A U.S.-trained Pakistani scientist was convicted Wednesday of charges that she tried to kill Americans while detained in Afghanistan in 2008, shouting with raised arm as jurors left the courtroom: “This is a verdict coming from Israel, not America.”
A jury deliberated three days in federal court in Manhattan before finding Aafia Siddiqui guilty in the third week of her attempted murder trial, which she often interrupted with rambling courtroom outbursts.
After declaring the verdict came from Israel, she turned toward spectators in the packed courtroom and said: “Your anger should be directed where it belongs. I can testify to this and I have proof.”
Siddiqui, 37, was convicted of attempted murder, though the crime was not found by the jury to be premeditated. She was also convicted of armed assault, using and carrying a firearm, and assault of U.S. officers and employees.
Before her arrest, U.S. authorities had called Siddiqui an al-Qaida sympathizer. She was never charged with terrorism, but prosecutors called her a grave threat who was carrying bomb-making instructions and a list of New York City landmarks including the Statue of Liberty when she was captured.
The defendant—a spindly neuroscience specialist who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University—”is no shrinking violet,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher La Vigne said in closing arguments.
Testifying in her own defense, Siddiqui claimed she had been tortured and held in a “secret prison” before her detention. Charges that she attacked U.S. personnel who wanted to interrogate her were “crazy,” she said. “It’s just ridiculous.”
In court, Siddiqui veiled her head and face with a white scarf and often sat slumped in her chair. She openly sparred with the judge and her own lawyers, insisted she could single-handedly bring peace to the Middle East and lashed out at witnesses in tirades that got her kicked out of the courtroom.
“I was never planning a bombing! You’re lying!” she yelled while an Army captain testified.
In her closing argument, defense attorney Linda Moreno accused the prosecutors of trying to play on the jury’s fears.
“They want to scare you into convicting Aafia Siddiqui,” she said. “The defense trusts that you’re much smarter than that.”
During the two-week trial, FBI agents and U.S. soldiers testified that when they went to interrogate Siddiqui at an Afghan police station, she snatched up an unattended assault rifle and shot at them while yelling, “Death to Americans.” She was wounded by return fire but recovered and was brought to the United States to face charges attempted murder, assault and gun charges.
A chief warrant officer, who testified in uniform but did not give his name, told jurors he had set down his M4 rifle after being told Siddiqui had been restrained. He testified he was shocked when she suddenly appeared from behind a curtain wielding his M4 rifle and yelling, “Allah akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”
“It was pretty amazing she got that thing up and squared off,” he said. “She was looking at me and aiming dead at me.”
Hearing the rifle go off, the officer said he followed his military training and pulled his pistol. Siddiqui was wrestling with an interpreter when he shot her in the stomach.
“I operated within the rules of engagement to eliminate the threat,” he said.
The defense told jurors there was no ballistic, fingerprint or other physical evidence proving the weapon was “touched by Dr. Siddiqui, let alone fired by her.”
Siddiqui testified she was shot shortly after she poked her head around a curtain to see if there was a way she might slip out of the room where she was being held. She said she was desperate to escape because she feared being returned to a secret prison.
“I wanted to get out. … I was afraid,” she said.
پنجاب اسمبلی نے مطالبہ کیا ہے کہ نوجوان نسل کے بہتر مستقبل کے لیے موبائل فون کمپنیوں کی جانب سے متعارف کرائے گئے دیر رات کے سستے پیکیجوں پر پابندی لگائی جائے۔
یہ مطالبہ پنجاب اسمبلی کے اجلاس میں ایک قرارداد کے ذریعے کیا گیا جو مسلم لیگ (ق) کی خاتون رکن اسمبلی ثمینہ خاور حیات نے پیش کی۔
پاکستان میں کام کرنے والی مختلف موبائل فون کمپنیوں نے ایسے پیکیج متعارف کرائے ہیں جن کے تحت رات گئے سے صبح تک انتہائی کم پیسوں میں طویل بات کی جاسکتی ہے اور یہ پیکیج صارفین میں خاصے مقبول ہیں۔
پنجاب اسمبلی کے ارکان نے قرارداد متفقہ طور پر منظور کرتے ہوئے وفاقی حکومت سے سفارش کی کہ وہ موبائل کمپنیوں کو یہ ہدایات جاری کریں کہ وہ لیٹ نائٹ پیکیجوں کو ختم کریں۔
ثمینہ خاور حیات نے اپنی قرارداد میں یہ کہا ہے کہ موبائل فون کے دیر رات کے کم دام کی وجہ سے نوجوان نسل بری طرح متاثر ہورہی ہے کیونکہ طلبہ اور طالبات ان پیکیجوں کی وجہ سے رات بھر جاگتے ہیں اور فون پر باتیں کرتے ہیں۔
قرارداد میں کہا گیا کہ نوجوان نسل نہ تو رات کے وقت پڑھتی اور نہ مناسب نیند لیتی ہے جس کے باعث ان کی تعلیم اور صحت دونوں بگڑ رہی ہیں۔
ثمینہ خاور کا کہنا ہے کہ نوجوان نسل اخلاقی اور سماجی اقدار کو بھول کر اصل مقصد سے ہٹ گئی ہے اس لیے ایسے پیکیج کو ختم کیا جائے۔
خیال رہے کہ گزشتہ برس وفاقی حکومت نے موبائل فون کے ذریعے پیغام رسانی یعنی ایس ایم ایس پر بیس پیسے ٹیکس لگانے کی تجویز بجٹ میں پیش کی تھی جس پر نوجوان لڑکوں اور لڑکیوں کے علاوہ دیگر شعبوں سے تعلق رکھنے والے افراد نے شدید درعمل کا اظہار کیا تھااور اسی وجہ سے بجٹ میں ایس ایم ایس پر بیس فیصد ٹیکس لگانے کی تجویز پر عمل درآمد نہیں کیا گیا تھا۔
As closing remarks came to an end and jury deliberations began in the trial of female Pakistani. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who faces 7 count assault and attempted murder charges in a New York Court room, for an alleged shooting incident in Ghazni Afghanistan, many spectators are wondering if it is possible for her to have a fair trial in post 9-11 America.
Although she is not charged with terrorism, the Prosecution was able to make that claim the underpinning of its entire case, due in large part to Judge Richard Berman’s decision to allow into evidence documents found in Dr. Siddiqui’s possession which include handwritten notes about “how to make a dirty bomb” and plans to cause “mass casualties” in the United States. The defense Attorney, Charles Swift said it was a legally “flawed” decision and will be the basis on an appeal if Dr. Siddiqui is not acquitted.
In their closing remarks the prosecution was able to spin the jury’s decision from a verdict on the guilt or innocence of Dr. Siddiqui, to the guilt or innocence of the 9 government eyewitnesses who say they heard or saw an M4 rifle shot on July 18, 2008 by Dr. Siddiqui. ‘For you to find Aafia Siddiqui not-guilty. That means you believe that the 9 Government witnesses who testified under oath stared you in the face and lied, men and women of the armed forces.’
The Prosecution characterized Siddiqui as a highly intelligent yet shrewd and cunning manipulator who carefully “planned her defense”. He described how she “ducked” and “dodged” questions referring to her answers about the year she was born and her son who was found with her. During her testimony Dr. Siddiqui was asked if she was born in 1972. Her response was “If you say so” , then when on to explain how can anyone recall when they were born. Later, she was asked by Jenna Dabbs if the boy she was with was her son. She again couldn’t answer directly claiming that she only saw pictures of him so she didn’t know for sure. Though many legal observers found her answers quite logical, it would be difficult for the jury to understand this without being informed of her claims of being in held in a secret prison for 5 years.
The prosecution then addressed the inconsistencies in the eyewitness testimonies as analogous to a car accident, in which different people would have different accounts of what happened prior to the accident as their “focus” would be on different things, but during the accident everyone’s focus would then “shift” to the sight of action and then perspectives would converge.
Later during the rebuttal phase of the closing, the prosecution argued that the inconsistencies were proof that the accounts were truthful. “They didn’t get together” and make sure their stories matched. “There was no grand conspiracy to convict this woman.” If they wanted to do that “why didn’t they simply plant some evidence” at the crime scene.
They were responding to the closing remarks made by the defense in which Linda Moreno argued that the ‘bond” between soldiers on the battlefield who must “protect each other”, influenced the testimonies of the government witnesses. She pointed out that their testimonies not only conflicted with each other’s but with their own earlier signed statements.
Moreno tried to get the jury to focus on the science and the forensic evidence. “there’s only one witness who’s impartial” and who “doesn’t have a dog in this fight”, and that is the room she said, the 26 X 12 ft room, 300 square feet with 10-120 people. She reminded the of the complete lack of physical evidence, no bullets, casings, bullet holes, gun shot residue. No one else was hurt except Aafia Siddiqui in this small crowded room where the M4 rifle allegedly went off. She responded to the government claim that the Afghans took the evidence, by pointing out that they (the Afghans) were the ones who alerted the Americans to her in the first place.
The Prosecution’s closing remarks had more references to the “documents” describing terrorist acts against Americans, than throughout the entire trial. Moreno responded to this by saying, “they’re trying to scare you. But that “Fear has no place in this trial. Fear has no place in America”