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Aafia rejects witness’s claim she planned to attack New York landmarks PDF Print E-mail
NEW YORK, Jan 20 (APP): Aafia Siddiqui Tuesday called the prosecution’s first witness a liar at her alleged murder attempt trial in a federal court when he testified that the Pakistani neuroscientist was arrested with a handwritten note outlining plans to attack some of New York City’s landmarks.
“I was never planning a bombing. You are lying,” Dr. Siddiqui, 37, said, interrupting the witness, US Army Captain Robert Snyder. She added that the case against her was bogus. At that early stage of the trial—the presiding judge, Richard Berman, ordered her removed from the court.
Two other government wintnesses testified on the opening day of the trial, which is expected to last two weeks. They are: John Threadcraft, a former army officer and John Jefferson, an FBI agent—both were stationed in Afghanistan at the time of the alleged incident. A large number of Ms. Siddiqui’s supporters were present in the court and two other rooms in the building where they watched the proceedings via closed circuit television.     
Outside the court, dozens of people, led by Shahid Comrade of the Pakistan-USA Freedom Forum, staged a rally to demand justice for Ms.  Siddiqui and her release. The testimony of Jefferson was continuing when the court adjourned for the day to meet again on Tuesday. Ms.  Siddiqui is charged with attempted murder for grabbing an M-4 Army rifle and firing two shots at the Americans inside a room before she was subdued. No one was hit but she was shot twice by an American soldier. “She was determined, very agitated,” the witness, Capt.  Snyder told the court where Ms. Siddiqui faced jurors for the first time. “It was clear in my mind what her intent was. A vision of hatred, her intent was to follow though.” Capt. Snyder said that he and about 15 U.S. officials, including two FBI officers, went to question Ms. Siddiqui at the Afghan National Police compound in Ghazni, Afghanistan. 
He said Siddiqui was arrested on July 17, 2008, outside the provincial governor’s offices with a purse full of papers, a thumb drive and carrying chemical substances. “I never get a chance to speak Siddiqui said in court, interrupting the U.S. Army captain’s testimony. “If you were held in a secret prison and your children were tortured. You have to give me credit There was no list of targets against New York. I was never planning to bomb it You are lying While ordering the removal of Ms. Siddiqui, judge Berman said she could watch the proceedings on closed-circuit television in an adjacent holding cell, a proposal she rejected. The judge turned down a request from her lawyers to declare a mistrial. Earlier, just before the jury entered the courtroom, Ms. Siddiqui turned to onlookers and said, I have information about attacks, more than 9/11 I want to help the president to end this group, to finish them, she said. They are a domestic, U.S. group, they are not Muslim. I am not lying, I swear In opening statements to the jury, Ms. Siddiqui’s lawyer, Charles Swift, said his client didn’t fire any weapon that day. Authorities were never able to find any gunpowder residue on Ms. Siddiqui or any ballistics evidence showing the rifle had been fired or that she had used it, Swift said. Swift said an Afghan police detective earlier had beaten his client with a cane during questioning and alleged the evidence showed only one weapon, a U.S.  Army officer’s pistol, was fired. U.S. officers gave conflicting accounts of the shooting, Swift claimed. You are not going to have any evidence the rifle was fired that day in the room, Swift said.  you are going to find there is far less than reasonable doubt, but that there is real doubt that Aafia Siddiqui ever touched that gun, and you are going to find her not guilty. Resuming his tetimony, Snyder, the first witness, said he was seated close to a curtain dividing the room and that his body armor restricted him from moving quickly out of the chair. I could see the barrel of the rifle, the inner portion of the barrel of the weapon, that indicated to me that it was pointed straight at my head, Snyder said. He said he dove for cover to his left, just when Siddiqui paused because she did not know how to operate the rifle. Afghan authorities fled from the room, followed by the U.S. officials, witness Snyder said. A civilian who was working as an interpreter for the U.S. Army grabbed the rifle barrel as Ms. Siddiqui fired and restrained her, and she was shot by another U.S. officer, Snyder said. Prosecutors insisted that Ms. Siddiqui used a U.S. soldier’s assault rifle to attack Americans during a chaotic confrontation at the Afghan police outpost. “She said in perfect English, ‘Get out of here,’ and then she pulled the trigger,” Assistant US District Attorney Jenna Dabbs told jurors. Ms. Dabbs claimed that, during a struggle, Siddiqui yelled, “I hate Americans” and “Death to America.” A soldier returned fire, wounding her in the stomach. Ms. Dabbs said that after Siddiqui was shot in the stomach, she struggled and stated, “I hate Americans, you will die by my blood,” and “Death to America.” Ms. Siddiqui is accused of planning attacks on the landmarks or of any terrorism charges, according to the indictment. The prosecutors’ effort during the proceedings was to focus on the political statements Ms. Siddiqui is alleged to have made in the Afghan police outpost in Ghazni, an Afghan city. On the other hand, the defence attorneys highlighted the absence of any forensic evidence. During the cross-examination, the defence attorneys—Swift and Linda Moreno—brought out the contradiction in the versions of the alleged Ghazni incident given by the three witnessed. These ranged from the number of people present in the police outpost to the distance of the barrel of the gun from the curtain.
 

     

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