Where Dr Aafia Siddiqui will die

Published: November 4, 2010

This innocuous looking facility could be a death sentence for Dr Aafia Sddiqui

Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s  sentence to 86 years by New York judge Richard Berman sent shock waves around the world.

Many of her supporters felt that it was just one step away from the death penalty. Sadly, this might be closer to the truth than they imagine.

Not only did the judge impose an unprecedented sentence, he also personally intervened to make sure she would serve it in one of America’s most brutal institutions.

In short, Dr Aafia Siddiqui was sentenced to death – because if she remains in the innocuous sounding Federal Medical Facility in Carswell, Texas, like many others who have gone before her, she may not survive the experience.

But if Judge Berman  refused to accept that Dr Siddiqui was unstable, why would he then insist on sending her to Carswell, which has been referred to as the Hospital of Horrors?

Carswell is the only mental institution of its kind in the US

Let me tell you how Carswell– or ‘Cars-hell’, as it has been called – which houses 1,500 female prisoners, earned its reputation.

In the last 10 years:

  • Numerous cases of sexual abuse, including sodomy and rape, were carried out by prison chaplain Vincent Bassie Inametti, whose reign of terror lasted eight years, until he was finally convicted in 2008
  • Another prison doctor was convicted of sexually abusing inmates, while another doctor was allowed to leave without charge after being caught sexually abusing a woman patient
  • Gross medical negligence has been reported, including the neglect of several cancer patients – one went untreated for a year and died
  • Serial sexual predator and prison guard Michael Miller was convicted of raping a detainee
  • Infest of ants went unchecked even when one patient in a coma was covered by the biting creatures as was the corpse of another.

To quote one local newspaper, The Fort Worth Weekly, time served in Carswell

can be a death sentence for women prisoners”

In a different report about Carswell earlier this year, the same newspaper said:

It has a troubling history of medical misconduct and sexual abuse of prisoners. Inametti is the eighth man to be convicted of or fired for sexual abuse, including rape, of female prisoners at the facility since 1997. But women there say that sexual abuse is much more rampant than that; the eight cases only became known when women overcame their fears of retribution and reported their attackers.

Lawyer Elizabeth Fink said in a statement:

One of my clients was transferred to Carswell to receive chemotherapy. She did not receive it for one full year after the therapy was prescribed. She died of classic Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a cancer with a low mortality rate – when treated.

There are a string of court cases outstanding against the institution, from those who have survived the Carswell experience and there are families of those who died in custody, who are still fighting for justice, demanding to know the truth.

The catalogue of crimes against female detainees reads like something from a third world country and such an institution would have certainly been closed down or overhauled by now if it existed in Europe.

In fact, Dr Siddiqui should be removed from the US prison system altogether, pending her repatriation.

All of this will, of course, make uncomfortable reading for Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who promised Dr Siddiqui’s family that wherever she was sent, she would be treated with respect.

“I will make sure Aafia’s living conditions are humane and respecting Islamic ideology and she be provided full access to family and lawyers with no strip searches”

He assured Dr Siddiqui’s sister Dr Fauzia Siddiqui recently.

Well, if he really wants to make good his promise, he should now move heaven and earth to get Siddiqui out of this prison before she becomes another of Carswell’s grim statistics.

The move to repatriate Dr Siddiqui must now take on a new sense of urgency, before it is too late.

yvonne.ridley

Yvonne Ridley

A journalist and patron of Cageprisoners, a London-based NGO concerned with the human rights of those caught up in the war on terror.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • True Pakistani

    A big disaster is on its way, and many Aafia’s and Faisal’s will be used as tools. People and specially Muslims need to understand this. Don’t you think America doesn’t know about the sensitivity of Aafia’s case, they do and yet she is sentenced. They are playing with a Bee hive or in there case may be they have found out the Achilles heal. 9/11, 7/7 do you think things like this happen because they were meant to be. No, incident like these happen because we let them plan it for us. Aafia got what she deserved or she didn’t deserve is something not at my disposal, but i can at-least talk about it what i, personally think about this case. I ask only one question from all the supporters of Aafia, how far will you go to save or even become another Aafia or Faisal?Recommend

  • Ahsan

    just reading the article gave me goosebumps…no one in this govt. cares for any common man leave aside Afia…Allah alone will do justiceRecommend

  • Ghufran Ahmed Bala

    As far as the statement of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is concerned, it is clear that a slave can never go against the orders of boss. We have been listen and reading such statements from these ignorant elite personnel after each act of injustice, but justice is nowhere.

    This is a case of open mischief from US agencies and by there judiciary as well. While the supporter of Dr. Aaffia kept protesting her family also tried to get support from political parties who are hopeless, but everyone here was trying to get political advantages.

    There is an urgent need of a sincere & courageous leadership that can liberate people like Dr.Affia from such mischiefs. Recommend

  • mawali

    It time for Aafia mafia to shut up and move on.!Recommend

  • Schazad

    What do you want the Govt should do in this case. The lady has been found guilty of something against US citizen. US has courts and full legal system. How could the Govt even ask US to give her back to Pakistan. This is full denial and disregard of their system. And she has been found guilty, why should we get her back and for what???? I fail to understand this. Let her serve her time and then if she wants to come back. Y is she important to everyone, boggles my mind. I guess we like to make heroes out of criminals and bad characters.Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    the aafia mafia went international….but in all seriousness if Carswell is so bad why has it not been shut down as yet? it should be for violating the rights of fellow human beings (who in most cases are in there because they have done the same)Recommend

  • jasmine

    What you mention Ms. Riddley is what every prison in Pakistan does .. no one gets convicted here for the crimes either .. and they dont get reported.

    Plus I really don’t understand your obsession. I am so sure there are alot more women form Pakistani descent in prisons worldwide, Please try and bring those into the light of the media as well. Recommend

  • shocked

    break her out, take out the entire naval base next to it and get our sister out, and shoot all those who are speaking against aafia. If some “muslim” men are two weak minded to even think about rescuing their sister, at the very least, they should not attack those who are strong enough to think it, and do it.Recommend

  • ImranS

    There are dozens of cases worthy of attention by international hype-masters like Mr Ridly. Why she continues to beat this imprisoned horse is beyond me. Aafia is a shady character at least, she behaved badly in court, she is an american citizen, she risked her childrens lives, she married a known terrorist, she got caught in intrigue.
    Please stop bringing back this stupid case.
    If you want to do something useful, ms epiphany, you need find actual cases that shocked Pakistan and got buried; read about the two boys who were beaten to death, do something about that.Recommend

  • Spam Robot

    To all the intellectuals who can’t see the travesty “Mere Ghum pe Hasne Wale Tumhe Konsi Dua doon”Recommend

  • Amna

    @Schazad:
    Even if she is guilty she should be brought back to Pakistan. She is not a US Citizen. She should serve her sentence here. She should have been tried here. THis is an issue of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
    Not to mention there was no tangible evidence against here. THe trial was unfair and then sentencing was unfair. Extremely biased because she is Muslim and Pakistani.

    As for those that are arguing that Pakistani prisons do the same….the writer is not saying that is not so. That is not even her argument. Just because Pakistan has human rights violaions we should let other countries carry out human rights violations on our people?? that is ridiculous.Recommend

  • http://none Bangash

    She is better of than in any Pakistani prison.Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com yvonne Ridley

    Truly, I am shocked by some of the heartless responses in this forum but I know, being a frequent visitor to Pakistan, that the views in here do not reflect those of decent, ordinary Pakistani people who genuinely care about justice and human rights.
    To lack compassion or show even a morsel of kindness to those less fortunate is not a Pakistani-trait, thank God.
    Why do I care? Why do I continue? Because I believe in freedom, equality and justice for everyone regardless of their faith, skin colour or culture.
    This is not so much about Dr Aafia Siddiqui, this is more about the thousands of others she has come to represent who were kidnapped, renditioned, tortured and abused.
    Shame on all of you whose hearts are so black and vision so blinkered that you can not see this. However, I also know that a lot of mail on this subject has been generated, and tracked back to, from US Embassy IP addresses in Dhaka and Dehli … so much for anonymous names; so much for US intelligence.
    peace and justice, as ever
    Yvonne RidleyRecommend

  • Umair

    Truly, I am shocked by some of the
    heartless responses in this forum but
    I know, being a frequent visitor to
    Pakistan, that the views in here do
    not reflect those of decent, ordinary
    Pakistani people who genuinely care
    about justice and human rights.

    Yvonne your problem like that of most Mullahs is you take it upon yourself to decide who are ‘decent, ordinary Pakistani people who genuinely care about justice and human rights’ which invariably means folks who dare not disagree with you. We Pakistanis however are fed up with Mullahs and wannabe Mullahs by now and you came just a bit too late to get any credence in Pakistani society in general. We may be idiots and gullible but not as much as you think we are. You need to take your snake oil some place else.Recommend

  • shocked

    Yvonne, the heartless responses come from the most cursed of people, don’t even worry about them, their demise is interwoven with the inevitable demise of the beast of beasts, the daemon of daemons, the rapist of children -america.

    Aafia will God willing, NOT die in here, but in freedom with her children, rather, it will, God willing, be richard berman and every last member of that jury who will die tormenting, long, painful deaths in this dungeoun. That is a promise from a Muslim. Recommend

  • Ahmed

    @ Umair

    Dear ! We are indeed fed up of those who distorted the image of religion and Pakistan.But we are also fed up of those who are wannabe revolutionists and misfits of this society who think they can bring revolution.

    You can try your rage-inducing and full-of-hatred posts some place else.The writer of the article has come with some evidences and references.She is far better than that minority who terms every supporter of human rights as Aafia Mafia.She at least tried to know truth unlike those who always speak against public opinion to get cheap publicity.

    Peace.Recommend

  • Joe

    First off I really take offense at the use of the term ‘Cars-hell’. The facility is the former base hospital for Carswell Air Force Base until the early ninties. Carswell AFB was named for Major Horace Carswell, a Medal of Honor recipient from WWII and Fort Worth, Texas native. So please do not perpetuate the disrespect of Maj. Carswell’s good name with that term. I Condemn the administration of the facility and/or the facility itself but Maj. Carswell does not deserve to have his name used in such a way. Just my opinion.Recommend

  • laughing

    @shocked:

    please DO attempt to “break her out”. I guess that’s how it’s done where you live…if someone breaks their society’s law and you agree with them instead of the rest of society you just “break them out”…and of course, while you do it, you want to KILL more people who have chosen to follow the laws that their fellow man has put in place to make sure everyone lives a happy life, without fear and without vile people like YOU.

    so please DO attempt to break her out.That way you can join her.Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    @ Shocked – inshallah we will break her out, legally though by repatriation.

    @ Laughing, yes, your are right when you say that ‘break outs’ don’t work and end in more deaths. We just have to look at all the botched and failed ‘break outs’ attempted by the US military which end in catastrophe from the poor Scottish aid worker Linda Norgrove last month to the hostage rescue attempted under Carter in Iran, and let’s not even look at the ‘Black Hawk Down’ disaster.
    So let’s keep things real, apply political pressure and get her repatriated and out of that third world hell hole asap.
    YvonneRecommend

  • Spam Robot

    @laughing:

    “to follow the laws that their fellow man has put in place” This is the actual bone of contention.

    But in the case above fellow man blatantly ignores the laws it has put in place. If I am caught in Afghanistan/Pakistan and expected to follow US law (whereas US ignores Geneva Convention on self made technicalities) then please have the decency to apply it to the letter and the spirit.Recommend

  • jack

    She should have been sentenced to death. That would be justice as you so desire Miss Ridley.

    But then you say this is were she will die after living for a lng time. I hope so.Recommend

  • JellyBean

    Yvone; I’ve got someone for you. Since you are an expert at tracing ip addreses, you may want to trace out ‘shocked’ (I guess from the “shockwaves around the world” that you start your piece with) and join up with him.
    It would be like Batman and Robin, you can both do repatriation(she is an american citizen) raids and then move forward to the judge for ultimate revenge.

    “This is not so much about Dr Aafia Siddiqui, this is more about the thousands of others she has come to represent who were kidnapped, renditioned, tortured and abused.” (btw, ‘renditioned’ is not a word, high quality journalism)

    Excuse me? Thats funny, or your perceptions are completely wrong. This lady and her predicament does not represent my country or my ideals; she is pakistani born, american citizen who left her country and then decide to leave morality by joining up with extremists.

    Why arent you taking up the case of the two trainee nurses who were expelled for misconduct from their hospital after being gangraped? This sort of injustice represents the plight of thousands of victims in my country. I’ll answer, because this has no link with your personal issue with America, Afghanistan, Taliban; and is so local that you will gain no fame out of it.Recommend

  • faraz

    “Zawahiri made the appeal in an audio message entitled “Who Will Avenge the Scientist Aafia Siddiqui,” which was released on militant forums, the US-based SITE Intelligence Group said”

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/72509/muslims-should-avenge-aafia-siddiqui-zawahiri/Recommend

  • sarah.elahi

    @Yvonne Ridley:
    That “third world hell hole” sounds like all the prisons right here-in the third world. With all due respect, the reason some people are taking offense is not because they are against Dr Aafia per se, but because they (rightly) feel that Pakistani women languishing in Pakistani prisons without trial deserve greater media attention. This is not to say that you should end your campaign for prisoners’ rights, but that the rights of prisoners on our side of the world are too often ignored.

    Recommend

  • faraz

    I dont understand why everyone goes mute, when it comes to Baloch missing persons (i am a punjabi). Nobody talks about the 150 Baloch women who have gone missing? Can Ms Ridley and Imran Khan (who opposed women protection bill) arrange a press conference to highlight the misery of these Baloch women. They are somewhere in the country; you wont need expensive international lawyers or diplomacy to secure their release.

    And in case of Aafia, you are pointing fingers at the wrong direction. Actually, our agencies handed her over to US; thats where the problem begins. You should protest against the institutions which are located inside Pakistan, but that wont bring you much publicity and media attention. Recommend

  • Ghufran

    To All Heartless Commenter

    For God sake, don’t be such ignorant, your own sister or mother could be the next victim….will you be giving such statements then?Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    If my mother or sister indulge in terrorist activity that could take thousands of lives then they also deserve to be in prison. Dr. Afia was a criminal God has got her penalized through America. Period.Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    Dr Aafia Siddiqui IS a Pakistani citizen – why on earth do you think the Pakistan Government has been asked to sign a treaty with the US for repatriation? This really exposes the ignorance of those who call her a US citizen. it would be laughably if this case were not so serious.
    I said before Dr Aafia has come to represent thousands of Disappeared in Pakistan and that includes all women including the Baluchi women. If we get Dr Aafia back then it’s one more brick out of the wall and it will make it much easier to bring down the whole wall then, mataphorically speaking.
    @ Jellybean. I don’t like ridiculing people or exposing their stupidity but in your case I will make an exception. The word “rendition” has several definitions including one being a musical term another being an ancient military term involving the act of surrender and then the rendition to which I was referring … the handing over prisoners to countries where torture is allowed.
    Furthermore my reach and interests are far wider than the US, Afghanistan or the Taliban. I also am involved in humanitarian work across the Middle East, Asia and parts of Africa.
    Finally, justice is not a selective concept, it is for everyone, Jellybean.
    Kind regards as always
    Yvonne RidleyRecommend

  • shumail

    @Yvonne
    Maybe you can answer one of the questions that never gets answered?
    If aafia is completely innocent (do you believe she is completely innocent or just not guilty of shooting the us soldier?) why has the us gone through such lengths to find, imprison, try, convict her. What makes her case more different or special than the other cases?Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    @ Shumail – I believe she is completely innocent of the shooting becasuse I physically went to Ghazni with a film crew and spoke to Afghans including the counter terrorism chief, who was in the room when she was shot. Quite simply she did not pick up the gun – this was supported by all the science. If CSI had been there they would have found no fingerprints, no shell casings, no explosive residue and no spent bullets from the gun she was supposed to have fired.
    Secondly, I believe she is innocent of anything else because not one of the FBI allegations previously laid against her manifested itself in charges. All their ‘al Qaida allegations’ were dispproved by her Boston lawyer Elaine Whitefiled Sharp and her other lawyer Elizabeth Fink. If she was guilty of anything else they would have thrown the book at her – they already secured one conviction without an ounce of forensic evidence so they’re not that hot on producing hard evidence.
    Finally, I would love to be able to answer your question about why is she so different. We know that there is a compensation and legal action culture in America, may be they are afraid of Aafia’s two children who are both US citizens. Don’t forget they were kidnapped and renditioned as well. I really don’t know why she is the only person who was illegally renditioned to the US to go through a civilian court. Just as I don’t know why there are still more than 100 wholly innocent men still waiting to leave Guantanamo when they’ve all been officially cleared. it is quite clear the US has set itself above the law and makes the rules up as it goes along. the results of the latest elections are indeed worrying and the fact there will not be a single black face in Congress in 2011 tends to feed the theories about the growth of racism there.
    Those people in this forum who like to call themselves progressives are in denial if they think the USA will treat them kindly if they shave off their beards and the women ditch their hijabs. They will always look at you as lesser beings and no matter how much you try and dilute your faith and your culture they will never accept you.
    Dr Aafia’s case has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with justice and I wish the sheeple in this forum who scramble on to moral high ground which doesn’t exist would wake up and recognise this. What happened to Dr Aafia, a brilliant neuro scientist who was a model of westernisation, could happen to any one of us. This is why we should all care.Recommend

  • laughing

    Spam Robot,
    So the US is to follow the Geneva convention when terrorists do not? how convenient to tie their hands in the matter.
    the terrorists kill without regard and on a whim. They rape women and actually film children doing their bidding by cutting the heads off of people.
    Just today they killed 60 some people in a mosque WHILE THEY WERE PRAYING.

    If you refuse to stand up to those who do evil simply because they are your bretheren, you have no platform to speak out when someone else does, otherwise you risk being called a hypocrite.

    As for Yvonne Ridley; Nice misdirection there. Instead of bringing to light why EITHER women were in captivity in the first place, you chose to attack the men who were attempting to free a woman held against her will for the crime of bringing aid to men, women and children.
    Linda Norgrove was helping people when she was KIDNAPPED and held hostage.Her day in court for wrongs committed against others? well that did’nt happen did it?
    aafia was caught attempting to kill soldiers.
    When questioned in court she admitted it and proved her hatred for all people “not muslim”.
    so be it.
    You also intimate that because the US took aafia into custody that they have stolen all the other missing Afghan women. Nice smear!! Americans are good at what they do, but they’re not THAT good.
    That being said, I’d like to personally say that you disgust me.Recommend

  • shumail

    @Yvonne
    Thanks for your answer. I don’t think that Aafia Siddiqui is innocent and we can choose to disagree on this topic.
    Her children are American born; I did not consider that, thanks. Yes, future legal recourse is something the govt would have to consider.
    She did seem innocent of the shooting based on the forensics reported in the american and international press during the trial. The sentence length too was a bit weird.
    Of the rest, I don’t know what extent but I am very doubtful of her complete innocence. This is based on various readings (pro and anti) over the period of this case; and from discussions with a few (i.e. not some large sample) Pakistani people who knew her at MIT or knew of her through siblings/relatives at MIT. All these people say that she was a person who was far more religiously inclined than normal and this situation (supporting extremists) is something they believe she could have moved towards (and gradually did, if the reports are right about her starting out with financial funding for ‘suspect’ groups, and following through with the marriage and then to the actual support on ground).
    I think you should speak to the first husband; he has been unusually muted but generally anti her innocence on the few occasions where someone has got a blurb from him. I believe that in a case like this where details remain vague, speaking to people around during a persons formative years (in this case formation of her philosophy) is useful and generally credible.Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    @ Spam Rot – I really don’t know what planet you are living on. The US is required, a long with all other signatories, to abide by the treaties it signs. In the case of the Geneva Convention and the Vienna Convention, the US has violated and ignored both since it launched its ill-conceived War on Terror.
    Sadly terrorists do not abide by international treaties, it’s a simple fact regardless of their background … ETA, IRA, al Qaida, Shining Path, ANC .
    As for the question of rape – more than 3000 female US soldiers made formal complaints about being sexually abused and violated by their male colleagues, most of them while stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan prompting one US politician to say that a female US soldier was in bigger danger of being raped by a US male soldier or contractor than being shot at by terrorists.
    Thanks to Wikileaks we are now beginning to get a full picture of US crimes carried out abroad and thanks to books from Retired General Pervez Musharraf and a forthcoming one from Donald Rumsfeld we know about the hundreds of innocents transported in chains to Guantanamo.
    No one in their right mind would praise the killing of innocents regardless of where they live, how they pray or where they pray.
    Dr Aafia Siddiqui was not “caught” attempting to kill soldiers. The dozy troopers allegedly put down their guns infront of a woman they were told was more dangerous than OBL … hmm, I don’t think so. She was shot by the soldiers and they lied to cover their own backs. Interestingly enough I put in a call to the Pentagon to ask if any of these soldiers were among those who killed innocent Afghans and then cut off their fingers and ears as trophies. Or, I asked in addition, were they part of the detachment which shot pregnant Afghan women then dug the ammunition out of their bodies to try and cover the crime. The Pentagon could’ve said “no, certainly not.” I’m still waiting for a response from their media department, six weeks on.
    I might disgust you, you don’t disgust me but I am dismayed at the extraordinary level of ignorance displayed in your rant.
    @ Shumail – we can agree to disagree but thank you for making your points in a respectful way. people should not be punished for their piety but trust me, if she had been financing any illegal groups she would have been charged. The very first opening statement the prosecution made was “she is NOT al Qaida or a supporter of any banned, terrorist organisation”.
    the “second marriage” is a red herring and has never been supported by documentation. Just one statement made by Khaled Sheikh Mohammed who was water boarded 183 times – evidence from torture victims is wholly unreliable and never used in courts.
    I have spoken to several non-Muslim Americans who watched her develop and grow from being a teenage student through her formative years to becoming a PHd student. One of her professors, Noam Chomsky, said she was “in a league of her own” so brilliant was she academically. She was developing a special program to help remedial children develop their education … hardly the stuff of an al Qaida fanatic.
    Her husband has remained largely quiet with good reason. In fact he’s said very little since his own arrest and interrogation by the FBi … it must have been a terrifying experience for him. The FBI speciality of course is to terrify the wits out of folk and turn them in to Agent Provocateurs.Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    @Yvonne
    So why don’t you consider that there is something that neither Afia nor the US nor her family is telling us ??
    We are not being given any credible evidence, and yet a sentence that doesn’t make sense !
    Also, how does this benefit the US, which to accomplish all its “nefarious” designs, actually needs to “win hearts and minds” ??
    There must be some benefit to the US in having Afia in prison at the cost of the outrage against them that this is causing them..
    And any such benefit only implies that Afia is NOT innocent.
    We just don’t know what her crime is. And nobody who knows would tell us.
    We know though that the US was “our” fellow jihadi.. and we are really fed up of all of our jihadis.. Recommend

  • Spam Robot

    @Yvonne Ridley:

    I think you wanted to direct your comment to laughing. If you read my post I agree with your point on the Geneva Convention. Anyways keep up the great work. And please don’t be discouraged by the views expressed here. Recommend

  • Faraz Khanani

    No human rights violation apply to terrorists! So no mercy!Recommend

  • laughing

    @salaman

    No no..that would mean that she would have to rid herself of her dislike of America and would have to put aside her willful blindness and believe that some people are evil, no matter what their religion is.
    That being said, no American wants to see troops in Afghanistan, yet the willingness of these people to do harm to others, especially Americans, simply because we allow the freedom to worship as you please, cannot be tolerated. 9/11 has shown us that.

    I’ll make a wager with ANY opponent of American policies.

    I can almost guarantee that if you can convince militant islamists not to kill anyone for 12 months..no cutting the heads off of men, American or otherwise nor the stoning or shooting of women, nor kidnapping of people..that American and NATO forces would withdraw from Afghanistan.
    there would be no reason for us to be there.
    Americans do not look down on Pakistanis, nor Afghans…we DO however, look down on barking moonbats from England or any other country, including our own.Recommend

  • Amna

    “Also, how does this benefit the US, which to accomplish all its “nefarious” designs, actually needs to “win hearts and minds”

    @Salman Arshad:
    Aafia Siddiqui shows the American Public how Al-Qaida has totally spread through all sections of Pakistani society. At any point people like Aafia Siddiqui can be used by the US government to terrify the US public into supporting the US government to make ridiculous decisions as it did the at time of the Iraq and Afghanistan war.Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    @ Amna

    Do you have some credible source for your insider knowledge about Afia Siddiqui’s real game ? It could very well be that you have been led by a conspiracy theorist..
    Why did they let go several other prisoners who could not be convicted by the same courts? That just shows they do follow the law.
    So why did they follow the law in the case of SEVERAL other prisoners, but not the alqaida lady?
    How can they prove that Al Qaida has spread through Pakistani society (the world knows there have never been any suicide bombings in Pakistan !!) by letting go SEVERAL prisoners as innocent, and holding just one person .. that just proves the opposite !!!Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    @laughing
    “I can almost guarantee that if you can convince militant islamists not to kill anyone for 12 months.”
    Things don’t work that way I’m afraid..
    Jihadi militants are as much a strategic asset of the US as they are of the Pakistan Army.
    They were used in Iraq against the Shias, they will be used against Iran as well. Its just a matter of time. They were successfully used against the Soviets. They will never be given up on.
    We living in Pakistan have to witness this curse almost daily now. Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    @ Laughing – why do you think 9/11 happened? Do you think it was the start of something or the continuation of something?
    If America is a peaceful nation why has it been at war every single year – apart from 1892 – since the inception of the USA? It has bombed and attacked more than 20 different countries since the Second World War.
    Oh, and while your contepmplating your American history, here’s another one … when did America ever win a war after defeating the british?
    And just for the record, I am not anti-American at all. I’ve met the real indigenous population and they are a very dignified group of people … the rest, I think, are immigrants and they’re very nice too. In fact I think most US citizens today would be horrified if they saw what was being done in their name. However, the majority are too busy trying to hold down two or three jobs just to survive.
    @ Spambot, apologies.Recommend

  • Laughing

    @ salman Arshad Sadly, I’m inclined to agree with you. These people’s hatreds are being used against them.

    As for Pakistan, I can only hope that your people can get a handle on this kind of violence. Pakistan is a colorful country and full of interesting people. It would be a shame to see it degenerate into another Baghdad because of the hateful actions of a few religious crazy people.Recommend

  • Musad

    “Oh, and while your contepmplating your American history, here’s another one … when did America ever win a war after defeating the british?”

    I’m sorry US bombs freed Kuwait from Iraq. Damn the United States! (Yep, we “Won” that one).
    I’m sorry US bombs saved Saudi Arabia from the same (We prevented that one).
    I’m sorry that South Korea is a free and prosperous after being saved from Communist control by those evil Americans and their baby killing bombs (Yup, that’s a victory).
    I’m sorry that Japan was rebuilt by the U.S. instead of being left to rot in their own filth after Japan raped, pillaged and destroyed much of Asia (Oh yeah, that’s a definite “Win”).
    I’m sorry that much of Europe was saved and rebuilt by the U.S. instead of being simply handed to the Soviet Union (since those Communist block countries were such beautiful places). I’m sure Hitler was just a nice “Community Organizer” out to make the world a better place (Yeah, that goes into the “Success” Column).
    I’m sorry that Iraq, who had 17 UN “Resolutions” written against it, finally had action taken by the only power that can enforce those resolutions (yeah, that will go down as a “Win” too).

    Wait, no I’m not sorry. But I am sorry that we continue to help countries that deserve nothing more from us.Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    @ Musad – sorry it was a coalition that liberated Kuwait then the US let the shia rise up against Saddam in the south only to let him turn on them and slaughter them because the US backed off.
    US bombs did not save saudi from anything – the Saudi kingdom allowed your army a base in the Middle East from which to launch an assault with a coalition. The US could not have achieved that without saudi help.
    The Korean War ended in a treaty, not a victory
    The only country in the world to use nukes on a civilian population – japan … that is not a victory
    World War II ended in a treaty – carve up between Russians, Americans and Brits
    Iraq, a victory? What a numpty – there was a coalition involved, the war is still going on, the violence continues.
    And on a quick point re-UN Resolutions being violated – that was not the reason for the war, it was supposed to be about WMD. And israel has violated and ignored more than 74 UN resolutions.
    Once again – when was America victorious in any war?Recommend

  • Laughing

    @ Yvonne Ridley wow. just wow.

    I love how you dismiss the total capitulation of Japan as “not a victory”. Nuclear weapons were used on Japan to keep from killing 10,000 soldiers and countless civilians in an invasion of the Japanese mainland.
    South Korea? I don’t think that any S. Korean I know would argue that they’re worse off than North Korea.
    If the US didn’t save Saudi Arabia from anything, why are they so keen on buying American weapons and getting training from America? Do you think it’s because they were impressed with Russian equipment and tactics? Why do you think that there were patriot missile batteries stationed in SA? it wasn’t to make sure that Iraq didn’t attack America, it was to defend (and it did) Saudi Arabia against Iraqi bought, Russian made, scud missiles.

    As for “the violence” that’s still going on in Iraq? perhaps you should speak with your confederates about that. They just blew up a church in Baghdad and killed 65 Christians simply for worshiping a god different than yours.
    As for Iraq in the Gulf war? you’re welcome to say what you like. I was there. Americans made up the bulk of your “coalition” and even helped Kuwaitis field a brigade of their OWN TROOPS.
    Then again, it’s always easy to dismiss history when you decide to just “not believe” the pertinent facts, eh?
    Next thing you know, you’ll deny that the holocaust ever occurred.Recommend

  • Hussain. N

    I am sorry Ridley, no offence to you, but i seriously think that you’r past and the circumstances you have been through have affected you’r ability to understand the reality. You’r article appears to me as an immature, one-sided analysis, and highly simplified version of the events, However, i would like to thank you for writing this sensational article as i have noticed that not everyone in Pakistan is a fool. The opposition towards you’r article is a sign of relief that people are finally getting over Affia case which has been highly politicized by political parties in Pakistan for their vested interests.

    Now, coming to Affia, my only concern is: there are millions and millions of women in Pakistan, why only Affia if she was innocent? Why not any other women? Why would she marry a militant who is closely associated with Khalid Sheikh Muhammad? Her entire character is shady, her story is dubious, why should Pakistani’s suffer for her?

    There are more serious things in Pakistan which needs attention like the rising sugar prices and etc, rather some Affia who we people are still unsure whether is a US citizen or not.

    Also, i feel bad for those people who are going insane for Affia calling her the ‘daugher of Pakistan’. Like previous posts, i think we should focus on millions of ‘daughters of Pakistan’ who are burning in Pakistani prisons for nothing and who have less shady character than Dr. Affia. Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    @ Hussain. N – you defame the character of this brilliant neuro scientist without using so much an ounce of fact or evidence. Despite the fact the whole US legal system from Judge downwards, the entire US diplomatic corps in the region and her own Pakistani passport, you still promulgate the nonsense she might be a US citizen – why? Why do you not believe the Americans when they tell you she is NOT a US citizen? Very few people fall for the hoax second marriage story now, because again there is no proof, credibility or purpose to the US intelligence-led story created to demonise Dr Aafia.
    As I keep saying, Dr Aafia has come to represent thousands of innocents caught up in the War on Terror, she has become an iconic symbol. Had she not been renditioned to the US she was about to take up an appointment in an islamabad hospital where she would have been able to continue her work developing a special educational system to help remedial children. This woman was bordering on genius and she could have made a huge difference to the learning difficulties of thousands of children not just in Pakistan but across the world and she wanted to do it all from her beloved Pakistan. May be that’s why she is called the Daughter of the Nation – she would have been feted and honoured, I’m sure. As Professor Noam Chomsky said, Dr Aafia was “in a league of her own”.
    @ Laughing – really, your knowledge of US history is lamentable. The point of nuking Japan was to send a message to the so-called “Red Peril” in Russia. Again it wasn’t a US victory it was a surrender signed by Japan under a coalition. The US did not come in to the Second World War until very late on, and even then it was dragged kicking and screaming in to it. Japan declared war on the US (Pearl Harbour) and so did Germany – it was not the other way around.
    You are mixing apples with pears when you talk about Saudi buying US weapons. BTW, the Saudis have just saved your failing economy by injecting 60 billion dollars in to it buying US arms.
    Once again “Laughing”, I’m asking you when did the US ever win a war single handed after the Brits gave up its American colonies? Recommend

  • Hussain. N

    Now i understand why one of my professors says that a journalist can never be objective. So i will agree with Aristotle when he says that people who are not well grounded in ‘First Principle’ should not be argued with. As much as i know about you, you are self acclaimed radical in other words you have a view which you believe is the ‘only’ right view which automatically puts you in a hot seat of biases. Why then should people over here take you seriously? It would have been better if you would have thrown a question to people to ponder about rather than overloading them with you’r conspiracy-theorist mindset.

    Even if i believe in what you have posted which is laughable at best, could you please answer just one question and solve the entire mystery. Why Affia? Out of millions of women in Pakistan, why was only Affia targeted if she was completely innocent? None of the Affia supporters, many like you, can offer an answer to this question. They talk all crap about her innocence but none of them can offer an answer..what was in Affia that ISI or CIA was after?? Why not any other women? Think about it and come up with something reasonable.Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    @ Hussain. N – you are very good at making statements then fail to back them up with any facts. Please do share with us why one of your professors said that journalists can never be objective. This is indeed, a sweeping statement but you do not back it up with facts. And quoting Aristotle will not give any gravity to your post. He also said: “The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.” I do not have a conspiracy theory mindset – as a journalist I can only deal in facts and I do my best to try and avoid speculation which is why I have not answered the question: “Why Dr Aafia?” What I have said previously is that just about every Guantanamo detainee will have asked : “Why me?” at one time or another. Bush and Rumsfeld have both now conceded they locked up hundreds of innocent people. May be Dr Aafia’s husband could answer the question because that poor man was arrested and questioned by the FBI first before they went after his wife. Why did the FBI come out with an elaborate story that she was in Liberia buying and selling conflict diamonds for al Qaida? Boston lawyer Elaine Whitfield Sharp not only exposed that the FBI had literally invented this story, but she proved that at the time Dr Aafia was supposed to be swanning around the African continent she was running a childcare nursery in Boston! Now why would the FBI invent such nonsense? If I could answer all of your questions I would be a happy person and until I can I will continue to do my work as an investigative journalist into this case. So far it has taken me inside Guantanamo for four days, to the gates of Bagram, in to the prison cell where Dr Aafia was held and many, many other places beyond. You may not like this but I am coming from a point of knowledge and I only deal in facts. if you want a battle of wits I can give you one but at the moment Hussain. N you don’t appeared to be armed. Think about it. Kind regards as ever. YRRecommend

  • Hussain. N

    I have my answer. Like all those people going crazy about Affia, you have every reason to believe that she is innocent, but you fail to provide any plausible story as to why FBI took ‘HER’ out of all the women in this world. Instead you replied with another question of ‘Why me’? Reading your post I’m afraid to say that you not just convincing enough. Please go over your post again and see for yourself whether you answered the ‘only’ question i put forward to you.

    I would also like all the readers here to ask the same question i usually put forward to all the Affia toons in the world. Why Affia? I find it unreasonable to believe that Affia was just another mom doing her job and FBI took her off without ANY reason. My point is not that she is a criminal and that what Americans have been saying is totally correct. All i am saying is that the story has a lot more that the public does not know and that it is unreasonable to believe that she was completely innocent.

    As far as being armed is concerned, i guess since you’r a public figure and i know who you are, i can tell alot about you. Too bad you hardly know me and thus questioning my knowledge, and understanding is kind of immature of you, something which is striking in all you’r posts.

    On a side note, please keep writing. Opposition like you keeps people like me a reason to live :)Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    @ Hussain. N – You seem very keen to assert that you are an intelligent, well read and educated person and you may well be however, I’ve now given you enough personal attention, far more than you deserve since you have contributed nothing to this discussion. I really don’t have time to indulge your craving for attention anymore. Kind regards as ever. YRRecommend

  • Amna

    @Hussain. N:
    “My point is not that she is a criminal and that what Americans have been saying is totally correct. All i am saying is that the story has a lot more that the public does not know and that it is unreasonable to believe that she was completely innocent.”

    So this is the point of your argument? So the United States tries a Pakistani citizen and puts her is prison for 86 years for something they have provided NO physical evidence for, accuses her of being a terrorist but did not even bother to try her for that because it was BS….and all we should be worried about it that ” it is unreasonable to believe that she was completely innocent”? WHAT??

    Who the heck ever said she is “completely innocent”. She was tried unfairly and without proof, and she should have been sent back to Pakistan. That is the bottom line. The point is that she is not a terrorist, and the US has no tangible eveidence of her trying to attack anyone. The point is that this is all very UNFAIR and Pakistan should be worried since she is a citizen of our country. She is not a terrorist…and hence she should be sent back to Pakistan.Recommend

  • Hussain. N

    @Yvonne Ridley:

    You just gave me a good laugh. How typical of you to say something like that. Please go back and read my posts and remind me where i am being keen to prove my intelligence. Coming from a journalist like you, something like this is hilarious.

    This conversation and your childish remarks about me wanting ‘attention’ only serve to prove your frustration over something you can’t prove. Don’t worry i was expecting this response from you; when people can’t answer simple questions they often resort to responses like you have provided.

    @ Amna:

    You jumped into the conversation from nowhere. Please read the previous posts and try to understand the context of my argument rather than picking out specific lines from my post and making you’r point. Recommend

  • Humanity

    @Amna: “Just because Pakistan has human rights violaions we should let other countries carry out human rights violations on our people?? that is ridiculous.”

    Sounds like hypocrisy to me … So you want to carry out human right violations on your people with your own righteous hands .. Not only ridiculous, it is ludicrous!Recommend

  • Humanity

    Afia is where she is, through her own actions.

    There are enough woman languishing in the Pakistani jails. Please work on their cause. They deserve your sympathy and help!Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    @Yvonne:
    You did not gather facts about Afia being innocent so your statement that she is representing the innocent held at Guantanamo doesn’t hold substance. Did you conduct your own trial ?
    As a journalist all you can do is provide facts. Not verdict.
    And the facts you could provide are missing large pieces of the story.
    Whether Afia was a terrorist or a double agent, we don’t know, neither do you.
    Instead of calling her innocent, all you can responsibly do is leave it at her being a shady character.
    Otherwise we already have something called Zaid Hamid in our country. The “zionists” are against him, just like they are against Afia. You are a respectable person. And I really hope you don’t join them.Recommend

  • http://www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    @ Salman – I have been given access to statements which revealed Dr Aafia and her three children were kidnapped and renditioned from Pakistan. What was unusual about this case is that the US rarely took children – although they did interrogate Khaled Sheikh mohammed’s at a secret location for six months before they caught him. The point is, sadly, there was nothing unusual about her kidnap in 2003 as it happened to hundreds if not thousands of people.
    The FBI put out stories later that she was on the run and selling conflict diamonds in Liberia – they stated this as a fact which was totally disproved by her lawyer Elaine Whitefield Sharp. This is well documented on the Internet.
    I refuse to call her a shady character because I have no evidence leaning towards that. Everything the US has accused her of has been discredited or remained unproven. That was reflected in the trial where she was charged on an event which lasted barely three minutes in July 2008 – the shooting in the cell.
    All the science, the CSI style evidence, pointed to the fact she never picked up a gun and attempted to shoot US soldiers.
    All the Afghan officials I interviewed who were in the cell when she was shot confirm Dr Aafia never touched the gun. I have played Devil’s Advocate on my own work and relied on good people like yourself to hold it up for scrutiny, and many of you have in an intelligent and thoughtful way which I really appreciate.
    You are right, there are huge chunks of the story missing which is why I am continuing to dig. trust me, if I find anything which reflects badly on Dr Aafia or the family I will not hide it. On a point of interest, I had nothing to do with the Siddiqui family or any contact with them until after she emerged in Afghanistan in July 2008 and yet I had been digging for four years on information given me by ex-Bagram detainees who saw her in that prison where she was held in secret away from the International Red Cross visitors.Recommend

  • Spam Robot

    @Salman Arshad:

    Please comment on the facts in the article. She has provided you with a lot of facts. But you are only interested in her comments in the comment thread. Do you dispute any of the facts in the article?Recommend

  • John Kelso

    There is far more to the case of Dr Aafia than what allegedly took place in a police station in Afghanistan – much as the US government may like to deny this. Why was Aafia removed from Afghanistan to the US in the first instance – is this yet another example of rendition? Why was Dr Aafia delivered to a court in a wheelchair with her face smashed in? Who repeatedly assaulted her to cause these injuries and why? Is there an urgent “need” to have her imprisoned in the hope that she dies in prison? Why did the US govt brief the mainstream media in 2008 that Dr Aafia was “Lady Al Qaeda” but never charged her with any terrorist offence? Was there a “need” to paint pictures and limit any exposure of Dr Aafia’s history to what allegedly happened over a few minutes in an Afghan police station and then lock her up for life? Why were there denials then admissions by the US govt? Why did the FBI fantasise and lie? Can anyone get the story right?

    Justice does not normally come from a lack of clarity and transparency. When this form of justice is being righteously handled by a nation which engages in rendition and torture, it raises more still more doubts. It is blatantly obvious that there is aura of lying, deception and, most probably, violations of international treaties. No serious investigator or lawyer would have cause to believe this sad saga at face value – it is simply not credible on many levels.

    Yvonne: Thank you for being an advocate for Aafia and taking time to visit locations and speaking with people who may give clarity – although I suspect you already “know” at least elements of the truth from other victims.

    May I ask one question? There are numerous statements on the Internet describing the “Grey Lady” and Prisoner 650. From what you know, do you believe that Dr, Aafia was detained at any time in Bagram base during the “missing years”? Thank you.Recommend

  • http://Www.cageprisoners.com Yvonne Ridley

    I first raised the spectre of the Grey Lady OfBagram back in 2008 – the US Ambassador Anne Patterson called me a fantasist and denied the US was holding any women in Bagram.
    despite her ridicule and attempt to undermine me I gathered eye witness accounts from former detainees who described Aafia in detail. One of those accounts was given to me by Binyam Mohammed who had seen Dr Aafia in Bagram. Eventually the US did admit there was one woman detainee and that her prison number was 650 – this was information I had already given out to the media. the US corroborated everything I had said but stopped short of saying the detainee was Aafia. I am convinced, however, because of continuing information being received and leaked to me that Aafia was in Bsg ram.
    Just recently I received more credible information about other female detainees in Bagr am. And hopefully I will soon be in a position to release more details about them. the treatment of female prisoners is a very delicate issue and I need to be completely sure of my facts on this next one because it will or could reflect badly on the US and have a serious impact. what we have to remember is that whatever the US has done in the name of the War on Terror has little or nothing to do with ordinary Americans who would probably end up burning their own flags in disgust at what has been done in their name.
    Just today, about two hours ago, three armed gunmen stormed the family home in Karachi and attempted to kidnap the children. ZAll of this while there is a government police guard outside the home. mercifully Dr Aafias elderly mum is quite a feisty lady and her challenge and screams repelled the attackers … All of whom were sturdy, heavy built, muscular and very tall. Recommend

  • John Kelso

    Yvonne: I’m sure Mrs Patterson is a nice lady, but of course you are a fantasist in the eyes of a political appointee who is taking instructions from the then US Administration – sometimes there is a need to paint pictures :-)

    Thank you for explaining the Grey Lady background and noticed that Binyam Mohamed (in an interview with Moazzam Begg published on CagePrisoners.com) identified a photograph of Dr Aafia and gave background information eg prisoner 650 was from Pakistan, had ties to the US, that she “did have children, but the children were not in Bagram” etc. Have to agree that to consider this to be anyone other than Dr Aafia is highly improbable.

    The possibility of other female detainees in Bragam is not going to be good news, but important that this story is told when you have time to verify the background. There may be political suffering and embarrassment, but better reality is acknowledged.

    Although most of us do not have a grasp of all facts at this time (does anyone?), it is very obvious that there has been ongoing injustice for years in relation to Dr Aafia, her children and the family in Pakistan. In reality her youngest child was murdered during a kidnap, the other two were kidnapped and Dr Aafia has spent a considerable time in the custody of torturers and thugs while not being aware of the condition of her children (Trial outburst: “If you were in a secret prison… where children were murdered.” Did somebody use the children as pawns and are they still attempting to kidnap them today with bungled attempts at invading the family home?) It is inevitable this abuse would take a toll on the general and mental health of any individual and does account for Dr Aafia’s facial plummeting appearance when she was kidnapped once again (rendition) and illegally transported to the US to face a court in a wheelchair for an offence that never happened. Have to agree with you that almost all testimony at the trial was inconsistent and without forensic/solid evidence. (Why this even got to trial is yet another mystery – the jurisdiction was not the US, but Afghanistan.) You also mentioned earlier that you visited the alleged “crime scene” at Ghazni and spoke with the counter-terrorism chief who was present when Dr Aafia was shot and where he begs to differ on the story introduced as “evidence” at the US trial – “she did not pick up the gun”.

    Don’t know what your thoughts are Yvonne, but I seriously believe that this has nothing to do with “terrorism” (already discounted when there were no terrorism charges and by the US defence lawyers). The issue is about justice, and it is clear that that has not been served in the case of Dr Aafia. No individual or government has the right to kidnap, torture or oppress – whether a person is guilty or innocent of whatever.

    It is also a concern that Dr Aafia is certainly not the only victim of rendition, torture, false imprisonment et al. You may be familiar with a legal action in the Supreme Court in Pakistan where 254 individuals are “missing” and where they were allegedly kidnapped by US agencies (FBI/CIA), much in line with the kidnapping/detention of Dr Aafia and her children.

    We have sadly reached the point where, hopefully only minority elements of government, can create any fantasy story they wish, and let this play out, even through the judicial system, with the knowledge that it will be acted upon and defendants wrongly imprisoned. In Dr Aafia’s case, the extreme activity/torture/kidnapping (including the kidnapping of children) prior to her rendition to the US would be a major embarrassment to any civilised society and I would offer this as a possible explanation (until otherwise known) as to why there was an non-offence committed in that Afghan police station and a “need” to have Dr Aafia held quietly in custody for 86 years out of public view. (86 years is a sentence no person in the US would get for a fumbled shooting of a government agent.)

    Dr Aafia is not being forgotten in “Carswell Hospital” and it is important that people are “aware”, especially within the US where the media tends to avoid the truth in aspects related to rendition and torture. (Serious investigative journalism is not part of the brief.) I wish you well Yvonne and seriously appreciate your work in highlighting injustice for people who often do not have a voice – in John Pilger wordspeak, the ‘unpeople’. They include an MIT graduate and look forward to the day when Dr Aafia is out of US jurisdiction and finds peace with her children and family.Recommend

  • http:[email protected] fariha

    Asslamoalikum
    i like your blog about Dr Aafia siddiqui case,she is innocent .we all pakistani knows about ,she is true muslim,May ALLAH give her streangth,dignity,hounour,grace and good health.
    As we know that American policy against in case of Aafia siddiqui is totally wrong,i am proud of you that you are the great lady who high light this issuee and promote truth,what i write i know the whole story of aafia and i know ur struggle ,May ALLAH give you happiness in your life and you achieve the target ...ameen
    Recommend

  • yar jan

    hahahahaaaaa,
    at the moment its the question for all of us that where one will die…….?
    or simply do you know where you will die..?Recommend

  • Saima

    @yvonne Ridley:
    I am Pakistani and u are right those all negative comments does not represent thoughts of ordinary Pakistanis. Most of ordinary Pakistanis dont even use internet and even if they use internet they don’t comment. Sadly we dont know how to defend our rights. Most of Pakistanis hearts and prayers are with Afia Siddiqui. May Allah grant u reward for ur efforts for freedom of our innocent sister. And May Allah help AfiaRecommend