War on Terrorism

Friday, February 05, 2010

Aafia Siddiqui Found Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court of Attempting to Murder U.S. Nationals in Afghanistan and Six Additional Charges

February 5, 2010 - PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that AAFIA SIDDIQUI was found guilty in Manhattan federal court on charges related to the attempted murder and assault of U.S. nationals and U.S. officers and employees in Afghanistan. SIDDIQUI was found guilty of all charges against her following a 14-day jury trial before United States District Judge RICHARD M. BERMAN in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

According to the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court and evidence presented at trial:

On July 17, 2008, SIDDIQUI was detained by Afghan authorities, who found a number of items in her possession, including handwritten notes that referred to a "mass casualty attack" and that listed various locations in the United States, including Plum Island, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Other notes in SIDDIQUI's possession referred to the construction of "dirty bombs," and discussed various ways to attack "enemies," including by destroying reconnaissance drones, using underwater bombs, and using gliders.

The next day, on July 18, 2008, a team of U.S. servicemen and law enforcement officers, and others assisting them, attempted to interview SIDDIQUI in Ghazni, Afghanistan, where she had been detained by local police the day before. The U.S. interview team included, among others: three officers and employees of the U.S. Army; two officers and employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and two U.S. Army contract interpreters.

The interview of SIDDIQUI was to take place at an Afghan police compound in Ghazni. In a second-floor meeting room at the compound—where SIDDIQUI was being held, unbeknownst to the U.S. interview team, unsecured, behind a curtain—SIDDIQUI grabbed a U.S. Army officer's M-4 rifle and fired it at another U.S. Army officer and other members of U.S. interview team. During the shooting, SIDDIQUI exclaimed her intent and desire to kill Americans.

SIDDIQUI then assaulted one of the U.S. Army interpreters, as he attempted to obtain the M-4 rifle from her. SIDDIQUI subsequently assaulted one of the FBI agents and one of the U.S. Army officers, as they attempted to subdue her. The evidence at trial showed that, while a student in Boston, Massachusetts, she had undertaken training and instruction on the handling and shooting of firearms.

On August 4, 2008, SIDDIQUI was brought from Afghanistan to Manhattan federal court to face a criminal indictment obtained by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Trial began on January 13, 2010, and concluded today with the jury reaching a guilty verdict on all counts. Specifically, the jury convicted SIDDIQUI of the following crimes: (1) one count of attempting to kill U.S. nationals outside the United States; (2) one count of attempting to kill U.S. officers and employees; (3) one count of armed assault of U.S. officers and employees; (4) one count of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and (5) three counts of assault of U.S. officers and employees.

SIDDIQUI, 37, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 6, 2010. SIDDQIUI faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of the attempted murder and armed assault charges; life in prison on the firearm charge; and eight years in prison on each of the remaining assault charges. SIDDIQUI faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison on the firearm charge.

Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force—which principally consists of agents of the FBI and detectives of the New York City Police Department. He also expressed his gratitude to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Security Division and the U.S. Department of State for their assistance in the case.

"Today, a jury has brought Aafia Siddiqui to justice in a court of law for trying to murder American military and law enforcement officers, as well as their Afghan colleagues. We are grateful for the efforts of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force in this important case," said U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA.

This case is being handled by the Office's Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys CHRISTOPHER L. LAVIGNE, DAVID M. RODY, and JENNA M. DABBS are in charge of the prosecution.

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