U.S.-trained Pakistani scientist convicted in NYC of trying to kill Americans in Afghanistan
NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S.-trained Pakistani scientist was convicted Wednesday of charges that she tried to kill Americans while detained in Afghanistan in 2008, shouting with a raised arm as jurors left the courtroom: “This is a verdict coming from Israel, not America.”
A jury deliberated three days in federal court in Manhattan before finding Aafia Siddiqui guilty in the third week of her attempted murder trial, which she often interrupted with rambling courtroom outbursts.
After declaring the verdict came from Israel, she turned toward spectators in the packed courtroom and said: “ Your anger should be directed where it belongs. I can testify to this and I have proof.”
Siddiqui, 37, was convicted of two counts of attempted murder, though the crime was not found by the jury to be premeditated. She was also convicted of armed assault, using and carrying a firearm, and assault of U.S. officers and employees.
Before her arrest, U.S. authorities had called Siddiqui an al-Qaida sympathizer. She was never charged with terrorism, but prosecutors called her a grave threat who was carrying bomb-making instructions and a list of New York City landmarks including the Statue of Liberty when she was captured.
The defendant — a spindly neuroscience specialist who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University — “is no shrinking violet,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher La Vigne said in closing arguments.
“She does what she wants when she wants it,” he said. “These charges are no joke. People almost died.”
Testifying in her own defence, Siddiqui claimed she had been tortured and held in a “secret prison” before her detention. Charges that she attacked U.S. personnel who wanted to interrogate her were “crazy,” she said. “It’s just ridiculous.”