Another twist in the strange story of MIT grad Aafia Siddiqui, she's been found unfit to stand trial:
" 'Mata Hari' terror suspect Aafia Siddiqui is not mentally competent to stand trial, a court-appointed psychiatrist said."
"Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Berman still plans to hold a hearing Wednesday to find out whether Siddiqui could participate in court proceedings on medication".
" 'Ms. Siddiqui is not currently competent to proceed as a result of her mental disease, which renders her unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her or to assist properly in her defense,' says an evaluation performed by a federal prison doctor in Carswell, Texas."
"Berman ordered the evaluation after the M.I.T.-educated neuroscientist from Pakistan failed to appear for a September court hearing in Manhattan because she was unwilling to undergo a strip search."
"Siddiqui, 36, is accused of trying to kill a U.S. soldier with an M-4 rifle stolen from another soldier while she was being detained by Afghan police in July. She was shot and wounded during a scuffle."
This strikes me as very odd. Siddiqui was lucid and rational when she was first apprehended in August 2008 and brought to the U.S. She demanded a copy of the Koran, halal meals and female doctors to attend to her. Sounds mentally competent to me. In October 6, 2008, Siddiqui was visited by four Pakistani senators, as reported in the Daily Times:
"Dr Aafia Siddiqui, now being held in a Texas facility for psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is fit to stand trial, was allowed to meet the four-member Pakistani parliamentary delegation for two hours 45 minutes on Tuesday."
"Siddiqui appeared to be in much better health and physical condition than she has been since her arrest, allegedly in Afghanistan, and her removal by US authorities to the United States to face trial for attacking US personnel with an assault weapon, a story whose credibility will be tested in court. The four-member delegation from Pakistan is made up of Senator Mushahid Hussain, Sen SM Zafar, Muhammad Talha Mahmood and Saadia Khaqqan Abbasi. The four lawmakers, accompanied by Faqir Asif Hussain, counsellor at the Pakistan embassy, were able to meet Siddiqui without the presence of a US official. She was also permitted to sit next to them, instead of being separated by a partition, as is normally the case."
One of the Pakisani senators had this to say about the meeting with Siddiqui:
" 'She seemed calm and composed, and her mind was active and alert,' Mushahid Hussain Syed, head of the Pakistani delegation, told Reuters by telephone from Dallas."
"On two occasions when Pakistani representatives met her (August 9 and October 6), they reported that she was articulate and okay."
Hmmph...calm and composed, active and alert mind, articulate. That doesn't sound like someone who is mentally incompetent to stand trial. The unfortunate aspect of this decision is that it fuels the terrorist-supporters' claims that Siddiqui was abused and tortured, which has apparently led to mental instability. This serves Al Qaeda well. I suspect Ms. Siddiqui has skillfully played her American psychiatrists.
Without a trial, we may never know where Aafia was between 2003 and 2008, we may never see the evidence of her involvement with Al Qaeda. Without a trial, we don't know who's lying and who's telling the truth. Not a good development. I hope there are continued hearings on this case.
My previous blogposts on Siddiqui here.