Aafia Siddiqui loses appeal on shooting conviction

Published: November 6, 2012

Siddiqui’s defense lawyers argue she had shot at US officials in panic, say crime lacked any connection to terrorism. PHOTO: REUTERS/ FILE

NEW YORK: A US appeals court on Monday upheld the conviction and 86-year prison sentence of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui for shooting at FBI agents and soldiers after her arrest in Afghanistan.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said a lower court judge had not erred in allowing Siddiqui, 40, to testify in her own defense at trial and in allowing certain evidence against her.

Siddiqui, whose conviction was widely criticized in Pakistan, was sentenced by US District Judge Richard Berman in September 2010. She was convicted by a New York federal jury of attempted murder, armed assault and other charges.

She was arrested in July 2008 by Afghan police, who said she was carrying two pounds (900 grams) of sodium cyanide and crumpled notes referring to mass casualty attacks and New York landmarks.

The day after her arrest, she grabbed an M-4 rifle in her interrogation room and started shooting while yelling “death to America,” the trial jury heard.

No US agents or soldiers were hit, but Siddiqui was shot and wounded in response, according to US prosecutors.

Siddiqui’s defense lawyers, three of whom were paid by the Pakistani government, argued that their client had shot at the US officials in a panic and said the crime lacked any connection to terrorism.

On appeal, her attorneys challenged her conviction and sentence on many grounds. They said the judge improperly allowed jurors to consider the crumpled notes, and that the judge should never have allowed Siddiqui to decide whether to take the stand.

“The district court went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that Siddiqui understood the implications of testifying and had the capacity to testify,” the opinion said.

Dawn Cardi, an attorney for Siddiqui, was not immediately available to comment.

The appeals court also sided with Berman in finding that Siddiqui had likely premeditated the attack, and that terrorism sentencing requirements were applicable because of her willingness to harm Americans.

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Reader Comments (25)

  • paki christian
    Nov 6, 2012 - 1:33PM

    i believe the judicial system in USA is fair and i believe the convicted must be punished!

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  • sam
    Nov 6, 2012 - 1:34PM

    Lets see how many raise their voices for this daughter of Pakistan?

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  • A J Khan
    Nov 6, 2012 - 1:43PM

    Siddiqui’s defense lawyers, three of whom were paid by the Pakistani government, argued that their client had shot at the US officials in a panic and said the crime lacked any connection to terrorism.
    So:-
    1. She had fired as confessed by her Lawyers.
    2. She was living in Afghanistan with her Arab husband after taking divorce from Pakistan husband.
    The basic question is:-
    3. Is she a Pakistani or US citizen.
    4. Does Pakistan Government Pay for the Lawyers of its citizen who are more innocent than her and that too in Pakistan???
    5. What services has she rendered to the State of Pakistan which can be considered worth while.

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  • MN
    Nov 6, 2012 - 1:44PM

    So Aafia finally admitted that she did the shooting!! Great..

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  • mnn
    Nov 6, 2012 - 2:31PM

    And people equate what happened to her with Malala and other victims of terrorism.

    She may have been mistreated terribly, and I feel some leniency in sentence should have been shown, but she is no innocent. So no comparison with Malala or anyone please!

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  • zK
    Nov 6, 2012 - 2:37PM

    I dont get this rhetoric by the Jamati’s of the so called “Qaum ki beti”…firstly she is an American citizen secondly she HAS committed the offence she’s been jailed for.
    I think the JI should stop fooling / emotionally black mailing the Pakistani public and accept the facts.

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  • Iqbal
    Nov 6, 2012 - 2:46PM

    Hopefully the US government will save their taxpayer’s money and now hang her as per sharia laws. Her lawyers have now confessed therefore there is no ambiguity.

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  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    Nov 6, 2012 - 3:45PM

    @paki christian: It is lopsided. As frail as she is how can she cause any harm. Why was she picked up in the first place. Wasn’t it illegal. Aren’t the American’s illegally in Afghanistan.

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  • Uza Syed
    Nov 6, 2012 - 4:37PM

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd): Since when armymen have started supporting terrorists, a Lt Col even if retired, to boot. The terrroists who killed 5000 of our brave soldiers, those who died and gave their lives so that we, and especially you, can continue enjoying the goodies that the nation pays for. Haven’t we paid enough, and still doing, for your upkeep? You ain’t any better than the one yopu sympathise with.Recommend

  • From Berlin
    Nov 6, 2012 - 5:24PM

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd):
    I wonder what’s gotten wrong with all these people. Are they suffering from inferiority complex or what. Everybody here seems ready to speak against islam and this country which they live in. I am always saddened after reading comments on ET.

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  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    Nov 6, 2012 - 6:07PM

    @Uza Syed: Unfortunately young man you don’t understand the Big Picture. Those who kill our citizens are indeed Terrorists. Unfortunately these Terrorists are supported by CIA,RAW & Mossad. The West wants to create chaos so that they have an excuse to get to our Nukes. Just like they did in Iraq & Afghanistan. Lied to their people & the World about WMD’s. 9/11 was orchestrated by CIIA.

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  • Khalid
    Nov 6, 2012 - 6:36PM

    She is dual nationality holder, so why she is daughter of Pakistan, and why her legal expenses paid by our government?

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  • Cautious
    Nov 6, 2012 - 7:29PM

    @All. She is not an American citizen – that’s a Pakistani myth spread by the internet. She received her degrees at American Universities (funded by scholarships funded by generous Americans) – not much different than thousands of other foreigners (who don’t turn around and bite the hand of the people who paid for their education).

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  • Cautious
    Nov 6, 2012 - 7:53PM

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    Unfortunately these Terrorists are
    supported by CIA,RAW & Mossad. The
    West wants to create chaos so that
    they have an excuse to get to our
    Nukes.

    Rubbish. If America had some master plan to come up with an excuse to take your nukes then then finding OBL hiding outside of your Military Academy would have been the time.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Nov 6, 2012 - 9:09PM

    @ Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd). Majority of Afghans hate Pakistan and don’t want Pakistan to interefere in their country. I was in an Afghan restuarant eating with freinds when news about Fall of Kabul came. I cannot forget the greetings and joy amongst Afghans. This moment changed my views about Afghanistan. I suggest you too, please meet non Pushto Afghans (who are in majority) and talk to them about Pakistan. We have no other choice except to secure our borders and stop sending fighters to Afghanistan. Iran and other neighbouring countries of Afghanistan have done it successfully, why cann’t we do?.

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  • Soldier
    Nov 6, 2012 - 10:20PM

    Their are thousands of Aafia’s in Pakistan. In private jails of fudals their or thousands of victims even in worst condition in every police stations across Pakistan. No one will respect you and your citizens if you do not respect them first.

    So stop being a cry baby and stand up on your feet so that you can look in to the eyes on world else stay the way you are . Remember “Beggars are not choosers” .

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  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    Nov 6, 2012 - 11:28PM

    @Ch. Allah Daad: The largest Ethnic Group are the Pashtuns. Presently the Govt is run by Karzai with support of the Northern Alliance(Hazara) Tajiks & Uzbeks. It is propped up by the ISAF. The moment they leave the Pushtuns lead by Mullah over will take over. The band led by Karzai is a Rabid Band who are Anti-Pakistan because of our support to Mullah Umar. There is an Ethnic divide of Shia and Sunni also.
    We are just supporting the Freedom Fighters who are trying to liberate their Land from the Illegal War thrust by the US for its own Strategic Aims. Just like Iraq was a Lie so was 9/11 Orchestrated to get into Afghanistan. The ISAF are losing the battle. The Mujahideen fighters hit and run and some of them come back to their Homes in FATA. The Americans want us to take on our Muslim brethren who are fighting a War of Liberation.
    On the other hand the US Team CIA along with RAW & Mossad are using Mercenaries like Fazlullah to conduct Terrorists activities to create conditions for Boots on the Ground & the eventual takeover of Nuclear Assets which is the Ultimate Goal.
    In fighting the War for the Americans we have lost Soldiers,Innocent Civilians and antagonized our brothers in FATA..Peace will only come once the ISAF leave Afghanistan in Totality.

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  • Salem
    Nov 7, 2012 - 1:41AM

    She is a terrorist.. May she rot in jail for long time!! Aafia you have brought shame to Pakistan and your family..

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  • mnn
    Nov 7, 2012 - 1:48AM

    @From Berlin:

    Nobody has spoken badly of Islam or of this country. Not in this thread anyway. I suppose you just wanted everyone to defend Aafia simply because she is a Muslim and a Pakistani, and ignoring everything else.

    Well, many of us feel Aafia harmed Islam and betrayed this country a million times more than any ET comment ever will.

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  • Umer
    Nov 7, 2012 - 2:07AM

    @sam:

    Lets see how many raise their voices for this daughter of Pakistan?

    She is the daughter of Pakistan only if Osman bin Laden is the son of Pakistan.

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  • UpYours
    Nov 9, 2012 - 4:17AM

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd):
    Sir you are correct, As one american politiction said “We will make a example of pakistan” in responce to pakistans Nuclear achivement and the silly fools who dont believe should know usa is like a snake,I agree with you100%..

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  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    Nov 9, 2012 - 2:50PM

    @Salem: Graet. If she is a Terrorist then what is Raymond Davis who killed Two Innocent Pakistani’s in cold blood & your Govt let him go.Recommend

  • Pia
    Nov 10, 2012 - 12:02PM

    I read this and great a sense of strong hate. I wish I never served in this country military. I hate America

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  • Chandni
    Nov 22, 2012 - 8:50PM

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam Sahib….

    Sir Raymond Davis was a spy and criminal also. Letting him Go was an unjustified act. But It does not justify Aafia ‘s actions too. Two negatives can’t make a positive in this case Sir.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    Nov 22, 2012 - 10:54PM

    @Chandni: Chandni ji. We let off aTerrorist , the least they can do is let her go. Harmless as she is.

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