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Terrorism & Security

New York court indicts Pakistani scientist seized in Afghanistan

Aafia Siddiqui, who went missing in Pakistan for five years before her arrest, is accused of trying to kill US Army and FBI officers.

By / September 3, 2008

A US-educated Pakistani woman detained in Afghanistan was carrying handwritten notes detailing "mass casualty" attacks on landmarks in New York, according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday. The alleged targets included the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Wall Street.

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A biologist and longtime Boston resident, Aafia Siddiqui has not been charged with terrorism offenses. Instead, she is accused of trying to kill US Army and Federal Bureau of Investigation officers in Afghanistan after being arrested there in July and held for questioning. Prior to this, she went missing for five years during a stay in Pakistan, before resurfacing in Afghanistan.

The Associated Press reports that US authorities had previously accused Ms. Siddiqui of assisting Al Qaeda operatives who traveled to the US. She has denied the attempted-murder charges, which carry a possible life sentence.

Aafia Siddiqui had notes "that referred to a 'mass casualty attack' " and to "the construction of dirty bombs, chemical, and biological weapons and other explosives," the indictment said. "These notes also discussed the mortality rates associated with certain of these weapons and explosives."
Other documents "referred to specific 'cells' and 'attacks' by certain 'cells' ... and discussed recruitment and training," the papers said.
Siddiqui, who has a biology degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was to be arraigned Wednesday on charges that she tried to assault and kill Army officers and FBI agents during an interrogation following her detention in July. The indictment alleges she picked up a soldier's rifle, announced her "desire to kill Americans" and fired the rifle but missed. She was wounded by return fire.

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