A convicted terrorist sentenced to 86 years in prison for assaulting and attempting to murder American soldiers in Afghanistan: Afia Sidiki is the sister of the armed kidnapper who broke into a synagogue in Texas and held hostages demanding her release from prison in Texas where she has been held since 2010, according to reports in the American media.
The kidnapper, Muhammad Sidiki, reportedly demanded the release of his 49-year-old sister Aifa, who is serving an 86-year prison sentence in Texas sentenced in 2010 after a New York court ruled she was guilty of attempted murder and assaulting U.S. soldiers serving in a military base in Afghanistan.
Just last October, a march was held in the United States by dozens of people and human rights activists calling on the Pakistani government to work for the release of Sidiki, whom he called a “victim of the American war on terror.”
Sidiki, an educated Pakistani citizen who immigrated to the United States as a student in 1990, received her bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1995 and a doctorate in neuroscience from Brandeis University in Boston before moving back to Pakistan in 2003, following the American invasion of Afghanistan.
In March 2003, she was added to the FBI’s wanted list for questioning as an al – Qaeda emissary and treasurer. Sidiki then went underground, with her three children, until her arrest in southern Afghanistan by Afghan police on July 17, 2008.
When she was arrested, she had documents and notes on the preparation of explosives, as well as sodium cyanide containers. She was detained for questioning. The next day, she was shot by U.S. military and FBI agents who arrived at the scene, after allegedly firing in their direction using a rifle left unattended by one of the investigators.
Sidiki was flown by the FBI to New York and charged in court with counts of assault and attempted murder of U.S. citizens at the Razeni Police Station, Afghanistan. The trial began in September 2008, and Sidiki denied what was attributed to her. On February 3, 2010, after 18 months in custody, she was tried and convicted, and later that year she was sentenced to 86 years in prison.
In Pakistan, Sidiki has become a national symbol as a victim of the “American system,” and her claim of innocence has garnered support from politicians from across the political spectrum, Islamists, and the Pakistani media. In March 2010, following her conviction, both the Pakistani prime minister and the opposition leader pledged to work for her release. It has even been reported in the past that many terrorist groups, including the Taliban and al Qaeda, have offered the United States tempting prisoner exchange deals for the release of Aifa.
In 2018, the Pakistani Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling it the “Daughter of the Nation,” and the Pakistani Prime Minister reiterated his support for his release during negotiations with the US. A spokeswoman for the Pakistani embassy in Washington said Sidiki’s case was still a top priority for the government, and the possibility of her release came up at a 2019 meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister and then-US President Donald Trump.
Last October, a march of dozens of people and human rights activists called on the Pakistani government to work for the release of Sidiki, whom he called a “victim of the American war on terror.”