A few days back the Asian Human Rights Commission issued an urgent press release about a Pakistani, Dr. Afia Siddiqui, who has been missing from Pakistan for over four years, since 2003. Her kidnapping has since then been denied by both American and Pakistani governments but actually she has been suspected of being an operative of Al-Qaeda and has been on FBI’s wanted list. There is reason to believe that she is also one of the missing persons who had been ‘handed over’ to the Americans courtesy of Pervaiz Musharraf. Let us not forget that the missing persons case was a turning point in the history of Pakistan where Pervaiz Musharraf had a severe falling out with the then CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry who was investigating this case and probably stepped on a few toes definitely ended up rumbling a few skeleton locked within Musharraf’s treasure chest of hidden secrets
- Sign Asian Human Rights Commission’s Urgent letter of Appeal which will send an email to Bush, Karzai, Gilani, Farooq Naek & Rehman Malik
- Sign the online petition for her release
- Join Facebook groups to participate in digital activism to raise awareness here and here
- Spread the word by email & SMS to all your contacts so as to create more pressure
Dr. Afia Siddiqui left her mother’s house in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, Sindh province, along with her three children, in a Metro-cab on March 30, 2003 to catch a flight for Rawalpindi, Punjab province, but never reached the airport. The press reports claimed that Dr. Afia had been picked-up by Pakistani intelligence agencies while on her way to the airport and initial reports suggested that she was handed over to the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). At the time of her arrest she was 30 years and the mother of three sons the oldest of which was four and the youngest only one month.
A few days later an American news channel, NBC, reported that Afia had been arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of facilitating money transfers for terror networks of Osama Bin Laden. The mother of the victim, Mrs. Ismat (who has since passed away) termed the NBC report absurd. She went on to say that Dr. Afia is a neurological scientist and has been living with her husband, Amjad, in the USA for several years.
On April 1, 2003, a small news item was published in an Urdu daily with reference to a press conference of the then Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat. When questioned with regard to Dr. Afia’s arrest he denied that she had been arrested. This was followed by another Urdu daily article on April 2 regarding another press conference in which the same minister said Dr. Afia was connected to Al Qaeda and that she had not been arrested as she was absconding. He added: “You will be astonished to know about the activities of Dr. Afia” A Monthly English magazine of Karachi in a special coverage on Dr. Afia reported that one week after her disappearance, a plain clothed intelligence went to her mother’s house and warned her, “We know that you are connected to higher-ups but do not make an issue out of your daughter’s disappearance.” According to the report the mother was threatened her with ‘dire consequences’ if she made a fuss.
Whilst Dr. Afia’s whereabouts remain unknown, there are reports of a woman called ‘Prisoner 650’ is being detained in Afghanistan’s Bagram prison and that she has been tortured to the point where she has lost her mind. Britain’s Lord Nazeer Ahmed, (of the House of Lords), asked questions in the House about the condition of Prisoner 650 who, according to him is physically tortured and continuously raped by the officers at prison. Lord Nazeer has also submitted that Prisoner 650 has no separate toilet facilities and has to attend to her bathing and movements in full view of the other prisoners.
Also, on July 6, 2008 a British journalist, Yvonne Ridley, called for help for a Pakistani woman she believes has been held in isolation by the Americans in their Bagram detention centre in Afghanistan, for over four years. “I call her the ‘grey lady’ because she is almost a ghost, a spectre whose cries and screams continues to haunt those who heard her,” Ms Ridley said at a press conference.
Ms Ridley, who went to Pakistan to appeal for help, said the case came to her attention when she read the book, The Enemy Combatant, by a former Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg. After being seized in February 2002 in Islamabad, Mr Begg was held in detention centres in Kandahar and Bagram for about a year before he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He recounted his experiences in the book after his release in 2005. Mr. Imran Khan, leader of Justice Party (T.I) suspects that prisoner 650 is the Dr. Afia Siddiqui and USA and Pakistani authorities are hiding facts of ‘Prisoner 650’.
To date, neither the American nor the Pakistani government have come out about the arrest and detention of Dr. Afia in either Bagram or Guantanamo Bay where suspected terrorists are held. On December 30, 2003 Dr. Fawzia Siddiqui, Dr. Afia’s elder sister met with Mr Faisal Saleh Hayat at Islamabad with Mr Ejazul Haq, MNA, regarding the whereabouts of Dr. Afiai. Mr Faisal told Dr. Fawzia and Mr Ejazul Haq that according to his information Dr. Afia Siddiqui had already been released and that she (Dr. Fawzia) should go home and wait for a phone call from her sister.
Dr. Afia Siddiqui, who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, for about 10 years and did her PhD in genetics, returned to Pakistan in 2002. Having failed to get a suitable job, she again visited the US on a valid visa in February 2003 to search for a job and to submit an application to the US immigration authorities. She moved there freely and came back to Karachi by the end of February 2003 after renting a post office box in her name in Maryland for the receipt of her mail. It has been claimed by the FBI (Newsweek International, June 23, 2003, issue) that the box was hired for one Mr Majid Khan, an alleged member of Al Qaeda residing in Baltimore.
Throughout March 2003 flashes of the particulars of Dr. Afia were telecast with her photo on American TV channels and radios painting her as a dangerous Al Qaeda person needed by the FBI for interrogation. On learning of the FBI campaign against her she went underground in Karachi and remained so till her kidnapping. The June 23, 2003, issue of Newsweek International was exclusively devoted to Al Qaeda. The core of the issue was an article “Al Qaeda’s Network in America”. The article has three photographs of so-called Al Qaeda members – Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Dr. Afia Siddiqui and Ali S. Al Marri of Qatar who has studied in the US like Dr. Siddiqui and had long since returned to his homeland. In this article, which has been authored by eight journalists who had access to FBI records, the only charge leveled against Dr. Afia is that “she rented a post-office box to help a former resident of Baltimore named Majid Khan (alleged Al Qaeda suspect) to help establish his US identity.
NewsLine while doing a story in 2003 – Mysterious Cover-up Mazhar Abbass reports that
Surprisingly there has been no official report registered with the police about Afia’s disappearance which explains why Afia’s mother wanted to avoid going public. The police, meanwhile, is doing nothing to trace Afia. “We have no knowledge about this case nor has anyone contacted me,” said Sindh police chief, Syed Kamal Shah. Ismat Siddiqui, however, claims that she has spoken to high police officials, including Shah, about her daughter’s disappearance. A week after the incident, Mrs. Siddiqui alleges that an intelligence agency official came to her house and warned her not to make an issue out of her daughter’s disappearance and threatened her with dire consequences.
Daily Times gives a detailed account of her mysterious disappearance in 2004 – The strange story of Aafia Siddiqui
Months later, the FBI would make its most devastating claim against Siddiqui. It was still dark on the morning of March 1, 2003, when Pakistani authorities arrested Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a known September 11 mastermind, at a Karachi safe house. The arrest made news around the world. It also presaged the extraordinary vanishing act of AafiaSiddiqui and her three small children.” It seems Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gave up Aafia’s name as being a major Al Qaeda operative.” However, one of her defenders saysSiddiqui ’s identity was likely stolen. “Aafia was, I think, probably a pretty naive and trusting person and my guess is it would be pretty easy for somebody who wanted to steal an identity to just steal it.” About a month after his capture in the spring of 2003, she disappeared.
The question is where is Afia and why are police and intelligence agencies silent? Is she in the custody of the FBI or the ISI? Another possibility is that Afia might have been kidnapped by her ex-husband, who may have links with Al-Qaeda. Whatever the case, there seems to be a deliberate attempt to hush up the mysterious circumstances behind Afia Siddiqui’s disappearance
Other links: Adnan Siddiqui – These coward and fascist liberals | PkPolitics – Appeal for the Release of Dr. Afia Siddiqui & Her 3 Children