Neurologist convicted on terror charges

Relatives of a US-educated Pakistani scientist found guilty of trying to kill American servicemen in Afghanistan declared Thursday that she was innocent and condemned the verdict.

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A US jury on Wednesday found Aafia Siddiqui, 37, a mother and neuroscientist trained at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, guilty on all charges. She could face life in prison when sentenced on May 6.

Siddiqui was accused of grabbing a rifle at an Afghan police station where she was being interrogated in July 2008 and trying to gun down US servicemen.

Although she was not charged with terrorism, prosecutors described her as a would-be terrorist who had also plotted to bomb New York.

In an upmarket neighbourhood of Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi, Siddiqui’s frail 70-year-old mother said the family had been braced for the verdict and would continue their efforts to secure her release.

“I did not expect anything better from an American court. We were ready for the shock and will continue our struggle to get her released,” Ismat Siddiqui told AFP from her home in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal neighbourhood.

“The verdict is a humiliation for America. The verdict symbolises the beginning of the downfall of American might,” she added.

Siddiqui’s mother also blamed the Pakistan government, which is a US ally in the war in Afghanistan and which had also expressed dismay over the verdict.

“What has happened clearly shows the lack of seriousness on part of our government in getting her released.”

Aafia Siddiqui’s elder sister Fowzia, a doctor, slammed the US justice system.

“The verdict shows that American justice system cannot provide justice to innocent people,” she told AFP.

“She is innocent… She has never been a staunch religious person but she loved people and other creatures of Allah in distress and never shied away from helping them.”

She claimed her sister was set up and kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence on the way to catch a flight from Karachi to Islamabad.

“She was picked up by (former president) Pervez Musharraf’s men while she was on her way to airport to leave Karachi for Islamabad.

She was then handed to the Americans, so how can she go to Afghanistan on her own?”