MIT Alumna Arrested in Afghanistan Disputes Govt. Case

Aafia Siddiqui ’95 — terrorist or victim?

In 1995, Aafia Siddiqui graduated from MIT with a degree in biology. She went on to get a PhD from Brandeis in cognitive neuroscience, and then she disappeared in 2003 in Karachi, Pakistan. These facts are undisputed.

From here it gets murky.

Siddiqui was arrested on July 17 in Ghazni, Afghanistan by Afghan authorities, who claim Siddiqui was arrested carrying chemicals and information pertaining to bombs.

The United States claims, in addition, that while in custody but unsecured, Siddiqui grabbed an assault rifle and shot at U.S. personnel. According to the U.S. account, a U.S. soldier returned fire and wounded her, after which she was airlifted to a U.S. hospital (at Bagram, Afghanistan) and then transported to New York two weeks later.

Siddiqui’s lawyers express strong skepticism at the U.S. account, but don’t offer any evidence for an alternative.

Her lawyers claim she was held in U.S. custody in Bagram for the past five years.

United States authorities, including a spokeswoman for the military at Bagram, all strongly deny that Siddiqui was held there. The U.S. maintains they have no idea where she has been.

Siddiqui is scheduled to be indicted in the Southern District of New York next Wednesday, Sept. 3.