Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk
A Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of trying to kill American agents during her interrogation has been jailed for 86 years despite protestations she is mentally ill.
Aafia Siddiqui grabbed an assault rifle while she was detained for questioning in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province over terrorism matters and tried to shoot FBI operatives and soldiers.
The case had attracted significant attention and protests in Pakistan where the 38-year-old mother-of-three was touted by human rights groups as an innocent martyr.
Questions: An FBI photo of Siddiqui. Her defence team claimed she was mentally unwell and should only serve 12 years
Her lawyers claimed that the string of outbursts during the trial and her erratic behaviour proved she was mentally unwell and that she should only serve 12 years.
But prosecutors convinced a court that she was in fact a serious threat and at Manhattan’s District Court Judge Richard M. Berman told her that a ‘significant incarceration is appropriate’ meaning she will likely die in jail.
‘Don’t get angry,’ Siddiqui told her supports in court. ‘Forgive Judge Berman.’
She repeatedly told supporters in the gallery not to fight in her name and that she was being well treated.
‘I don’t want any violence in my name, please,’ she said. ‘Thanks to God, I am well in prison. They are not torturing me.’
‘I am a Muslim, but I love Americans too,’ she said during one of her rambling speeches.
The sentence brought to an end a peculiar case which proved she wanted to kill Americans yet left lingering doubts about her state of mind.
Siddiqui was arrested in July 2008 by Afghan police, who said she was carrying containers of chemicals and notes referring to terror attacks.
When they and American soldiers went to interrogate her she grabbed an unattended assault rifle and shot at them whilst shouting ‘Death to Americans!’
She was shot in the stomach by return fire and after recovering was brought to the U.S. for trial.
In court prosecutors made out that she was a ‘cold, calculating jihadist who set out to harm American troops by any means necessary’.
They quoted from notes she was carrying at the time of her arrest referring to ‘a ‘mass casualty attack’ … NY CITY monuments: Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge,’ and another musing how a dirty bomb would spread more fear than death.
They claimed the notes, along with the fact that she was carrying sodium cyanide, showed she wasn’t an accidental menace.
‘Her conduct was not senseless or thoughtless,’ prosecutors said in legal papers, ‘It was deliberate and premeditated. Siddiqui should be punished accordingly.’
According to Siddiqui’s legal team, however, her behaviour was a spontaneous ‘freak out’ born of mental issues rather than Islamic militancy.
Siddiqui’s rambling courtroom rants proclaiming her innocence and offering odd solutions for Middle East peace ran counter to the prosecution’s portrait of her.
Testifying in her own defence while wearing a head scarf, she claimed she was tortured at a ‘secret prison’ before her detention.
Charges that she purposely shot at soldiers were ‘crazy,’ she said. ‘It’s just ridiculous.’
Among Saddiqui’s possessions at the time of her arrest was a computer disk with an essay she’d written about feminism and her struggles as a Muslim woman living in America.
The title: ‘I am not a Terrorist.’
Siddiqui trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S. in the early 1990s and, according to prosecutors, returned to her native Pakistan in 2003 after marrying an al Qaeda operative related to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
News of her sentence sparked protests in Karachi whilst others demonstrated outside the courthouse.
Though she was not convicted of terrorism, the U.S. government argued that Siddiqui is a cold-blooded radical who deserves a ‘terrorism enhancement’ under federal sentencing guidelines that would guarantee a life term.