Aafia Siddiqui’s Son Released; DOJ Hints At Conspiracy Charges
The young boy arrested with Aafia Siddiqui ’95 on July 17 has been released to Pakistani custody to be turned over to Siddiqui’s relatives, The Associated Press reported yesterday.
Siddiqui and the boy were arrested outside the Ghazni province governor’s compound on suspicion of carrying a bomb. She allegedly had “numerous chemicals” and plans for explosives in her possession.
The Afghan Foreign Ministry claims the boy, Ali Hassan, was adopted by Siddiqui in 2005, and that he is a dual U.S./Pakistan citizen, the AP said. The Ministry said the boy had been held by Afghanistan’s intelligence service for ten days, according to the AP.
The boy’s release appears to be a response to pressure from Pakistani diplomats, as well as human rights groups, many of whom have been clamoring for his release and expressing concern over the conditions under which he has been kept.
There is still confusion about the boy’s identity. The AP reported that Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said U.S. DNA tests showed the boy was Siddiqui’s biological son, not an adopted son.
“Preliminary nuclear DNA analysis indicates that [REDACTED] DNA is consistent with that of a potential offspring of Aafia Siddiqui,” said an Aug. 22 letter released by the Department of Justice. “Additional testing is being conducted and should be completed by next week,” referring to the week of Aug. 24–29.
The DOJ has not released any further information and declined yesterday to comment on the Afghan and Pakistani foreign ministry statements.
Separately, the DOJ has linked Siddiqui to an existing terrorism case, and that suggests more charges are forthcoming. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher L. LaVigne alleged “Siddiqui is an unindicted co-conspirator” in a 2003 conspiracy for which Uzair Paracha was convicted, Lavigne wrote in a letter dated Thursday, Sept. 11. The letter was released Friday, and refers to United States v. Uzair Paracha.
Uzair Paracha was convicted of conspiracy, providing material support and resources to al Qaeda, and document fraud, and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Paracha’s case involved evidence against him from Majid Khan, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and Ammar al Baluchi, all of whom are linked to Siddiqui, and are U.S. prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Siddiqui married Ammar al Baluchi in 2003; al Baluchi is a nephew of Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind.
Paracha was convicted in 2005 and he appealed before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court decided against Paracha.
“The Government continues to investigate Siddiqui’s conduct with respect to that conspiracy, but the current charges against her — attempted murder of United States nationals, officers and employees, among other counts — are not related to the conspiracy at issue in Paracha,” Lavigne said.
Further charges against Siddiqui are expected.
Siddiqui’s court-appointed New York lawyer, Elizabeth M. Fink, has not responded to repeated requests for comment.