Prosecutor: No sign Pakistani suspect was abducted, tortured
NEW YORK - The US government has not found a "shred of evidence" that a Pakistani woman accused of trying to kill a US soldier and FBI agents was abducted or tortured in the five years before her arrest, a prosecutor said yesterday.
Assistant US Attorney David Raskin said US agencies had searched for evidence to support reports that Aafia Siddiqui was detained in 2003 and held for years, but found none.
He said it was more likely that Siddiqui disappeared in 2003 because she went into hiding after marrying an Al Qaeda operative who helped facilitate the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and because she knew 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
"A more plausible inference is that she went into hiding because people around her started to get arrested and at least two of those people ended up at Guantanamo Bay," Raskin said.
Raskin said the United States responded to repeated allegations in published reports and found "zero evidence that Ms. Siddiqui was abducted, kidnapped, tortured, anything we hear repeatedly."
He added: "I have found not a shred of evidence those allegations are true."
Raskin spoke at a hearing yesterday to discuss a psychologist's conclusion that Siddiqui, 36, is mentally unfit for trial. She is being held at a Texas facility after she was brought to the United States in August to face attempted murder and assault charges.
Although the psychologist's report is secret, defense lawyer Elizabeth Fink gave an indication of its contents yesterday when she said Siddiqui believes she is living with two of her children.
At one point in the hearing, Raskin mocked the suggestion in published reports that law enforcers had detained any of Siddiqui's three children for years. He said they were "certainly not abducted by US forces, or the dark side, whatever you want to call it."
He said Siddiqui's oldest boy was detained by Afghanistan police in July when he was found with his mother. The FBI said Siddiqui carried bottles and jars of chemicals, papers describing US landmarks, and instructions on how to make chemical weapons.