Throughout the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, human rights observers have been waiting anxiously for more clues as to what happened to her and her children during the five years that she was reported missing by family members. They come every day earlier and earlier, to ensure they get a seat in the very limited space reserved for the public.
Shortly after the trial began as a government eyewitness described the documents that were allegedly found in her possession, including hand written notes on how to make a dirty bomb, she shouted out “it’s a lie…I was told to copy from a magazine…if you were held in a secret prison and your children were tortured”; at which point she was whisked away by U.S. Marshalls.
The court then took a recess and when the trial resumed, prosecutors requested that it be stricken from the record. But in closing remarks, defense attorney reminded everyone that the prosecution never challenged that assertion. Something terrible happened to Dr. Siddiqui, Moreno said. But without more information, it would be hard for any juror who is not an avid consumer of non-mainstream or foreign media, to be able to even imagine what that horror may have been.
In the morning before the closing remarks, the last government witness, FBI Special Agent, Angela Sercer testified. Sercer monitored Siddiqui for 12 hours a day over a two week period while she was at a hospital in Bagram. She tried to rebut Aafia Siddiqui’s testimony, by saying that Siddiqui told her she was in “hiding” for the last five years and further that she “married” someone to change her name.
However under cross examination, Sercer admitted that while at the hospital Siddiqui expressed fear of “being tortured”. Sercer also admitted that Siddiqui expressed concern about the “welfare of the boy” and asked about him “every day”. Moreover, that Siddiqui only agreed to talk to her upon promises that the boy would be safe. According to the testimony Siddiqui said that the Afghans had “beaten her”; that her “husband had beaten her and her children”; and that she was “afraid of coming into physical harm”.
When Sercer was further questioned about what Siddiqui said about her children during that two week period, she admitted that Siddiqui expressed concern about the “safety and welfare of her children”, but felt that the “kids had been killed or tortured in a secret prison”. “She said that they were dead, didn’t she” asked Defense attorney, Elaine Sharpe; reluctantly Sercer answered, “Yes”.
Siddiqui herself may not know whether the children are alive or not. In a psychiatric report she told an interviewer “my baby is flying but he does not grow”, “maybe it’s because I’m not nursing him”. Nonetheless, it is surprising that the testimony presented at her trial did not prompt an immediate state department investigation. After all, at least one of the children, Maryum, who would now be 10 years old, is a U.S. Citizen.
If it is true that the kids have been killed, then, the question arises, who will be charged with “attempting to murder a U.S. National”, for that crime