Now Reading
Texas Synagogue Hostage Taker Demands Release of Pakistani Neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui Serving 86-year Sentence

Texas Synagogue Hostage Taker Demands Release of Pakistani Neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui Serving 86-year Sentence

  • He is, however, not the brother ‘Lady al-Qaida,’ who was convicted on terrorism charges in 2010, as some news reports suggested.

Police are reportedly negotiating with an armed man who is holding several hostages, including a rabbi, at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, according to social media updates from the local police department. 

The man was previously identified in some news reports as Mohammad Siddiqui, brother of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is currently serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell in Fort-Worth, after being convicted in 2010 of attempting to murder American citizens in Afghanistan. The inference was made when he used the word sister to refer to Aafia, as heard in live streaming from inside the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue. However, news reports, citing local community members have said that the suspect is not Mohammad Siddiqui. Law enforcement has not yet confirmed the suspect’s identity. 

Meanwhile, The Daily Beast reported that Muhammad Siddiqui’s attorney Annette Lamoreaux has denied his connection to the hostage situation. She said her client, who is an architect, “wanted people to know that Aafia was not the suspect’s biological sister.” Lamoreaux represented Muhammad Siddiqui in 2004, when he was questioned by the FBI in regards to his sister’s case and her connection to al-Qaeda.

Social media posts from the Colleyville Police Department said they were conducting SWAT operations near the Congregation Beth Israel. FBI special agents from the Dallas field office are also at the synagogue, news reports said, quoting an agency spokeswoman. All residents in the immediate area were evacuated, and people were asked to avoid the area.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the attack on the Colleyville synagogue began while services were being live-streamed on Facebook. The live recording reportedly captured muffled audio of what might have been negotiations with police. No video footage of the events inside the synagogue was streamed, but speech from the suspect was audible.

The Texas synagogue incident has once again put a spotlight on Aafia Siddiqui. Her case has been convoluted and filled with contradictions. She was born in Pakistan to Mohammad Siddiqui, an English-trained doctor, and Ismet Siddiqui. A 2009 profile in Foreign Policy describes her as “a smart teenager,” who followed her older brother to the U.S. in 1990. She got into the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, later, Brandeis University, where she graduated in cognitive neuroscience. In 1995 she married a young Karachi doctor, Amjad Khan; a year later their first child, Ahmed, was born. 

U.S. authorities considered Aafia a dangerous terrorist with ties to the ringleader of 9/11. Counter-terrorism groups have dubbed her “Lady al-Qaida,” and U.S. officials once described her as “the most wanted woman in the world.”

“Siddiqui was also an impassioned Muslim activist,” the profile says, adding that in Boston, she “campaigned for Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.” According to the profile, the September 11 2011 attacks marked a turning point in Siddiqui’s life. In May 2002, the FBI questioned her and her husband about some unusual internet purchases they had made. A few months later, she returned to Pakistan with her husband. The couple divorced that August, two weeks before the birth of their third child, Suleman. Aafia then left her three children with her mother in Pakistan and returned to the U.S. 

Six months after her divorce, she reportedly married Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew of the 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, at a small ceremony near Karachi. While Siddiqui’s family denies the wedding took place, a Guardian report notes that it has been confirmed by Pakistani and U.S intelligence, al-Baluchi’s relatives and Aafia herself.

The next few years of her life are shrouded in mystery as there are contradicting reports of her existence. In a 2014 appeal filed by her lawyer, Aafia was kidnapped by Pakistani police in 2003. She was held in the custody of Pakistani and/or American security forces for five years and subjected to physical and psychological torture at the Bagram Detention Center north of Kabul, news reports have said, quoting the attorney.

See Also

But the DOJ says Aafia was on the run for those five years and was detained in Afghanistan in 2008. Officers who searched her found documents about the creation of explosives, descriptions of American landmarks and sealed bottles of chemicals, according to a press release about her arrest. While in the Afghan facility, U.S. Army officers said Aafia grabbed a rifle from an officer, pointed it at a captain. An interpreter lunged at her and pushed the rifle away as she pulled the trigger, according to the DOJ. She fired at least two shots but did not hit anyone. An Army officer shot Aafia in the torso.

U.S. authorities say Aafia is a dangerous terrorist with ties to the ringleader of 9/11. Counter-terrorism groups have dubbed her “Lady al-Qaida,” and U.S. officials once described her as “the most wanted woman in the world.”

However, in her home country of Pakistan, she is widely portrayed as a heroine and martyr. Her family and supporters say the mother of three was falsely accused and used as a scapegoat in the “war on terror” after 9/11. 

In 2018, the Senate of Pakistan unanimously passed a resolution to take up the matter of Aafia’s freedom with the U.S., referring to her as “the Daughter of the Nation.”In July 2019, after meeting with the then US President Donald Trump, Khan told the media that releasing Shakeel Afridi in exchange for Aafia could be a possibility in the future. 

In October last year, dozens of protesters and human rights activists gathered outside the Consulate General of Pakistan in New York, and called on the Pakistani government to work to end her continued imprisonment, Al Jazeera reported. The rally was part of a series of protests organized by a coalition of more than 20 local and national human rights and religious groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the report said. 

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 American Kahani LLC. All rights reserved.

The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of American Kahani.
Scroll To Top