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
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,
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.