- The Guardian, Thursday 4 February 2010
A Pakistani neuroscientist trained at an elite American university has been found guilty of two charges of attempted murder after she tried to kill US agents in Afghanistan in 2008.
The conviction, which could see Aafia Siddiqui sentenced to life in prison, is the latest chapter in a life story that has baffled observers and divided legal opinion. The scientist has been accused of being an al-Qaida sympathiser, but has claimed that she was kidnapped and held in secret detention by the US for five years before her arrest.
She was never charged with terrorism, but prosecutors called her a grave threat who was carrying "a road map for destruction" bomb-making instructions and a list of New York City landmarks when she was captured.
As jurors left the courtroom following her conviction, Siddiqui raised her arm and shouted: "This is a verdict coming from Israel, not America." Then she turned to the public benches and said: "Your anger should be directed where it belongs. I can testify to this and I have proof."
Her lawyer, Elaine Sharp, said: "This verdict is based on fear, not on fact."
Siddiqui, 37, was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder, armed assault, using and carrying a firearm and assault of US officers and employees. The jury found, however, that the crime had not been premeditated.
The charges related to her arrest at an Afghan police station in 2008. The prosecution alleged that as US agents were coming to interrogate her, she grabbed a military rifle and opened fire shouting "Allahu Akbar", Arabic for God is great.
None of the officers were hurt, but they returned fire and Siddiqui was injured.
Siddiqui took a degree from MIT and then gained a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at Brandeis University. She returned to Pakistan in 2002, and a year later she mysteriously disappeared.