Archive for August 27, 2008

Source: By Carol D. Leonnig and Candace Rondeaux – Washington Post Staff Writers
Mother Held by U.S. as Al-Qaeda Suspect

U.S. authorities said yesterday that Afghan officials have detained since mid-July an 11-year-old U.S. citizen, the son of a Pakistani woman accused of firing at Afghan and U.S. personnel there.

In a letter to the family of Aafia Siddiqui, a suspected al-Qaeda operative who is in U.S. custody, federal prosecutors said photos and DNA tests strongly suggest that the youngster in Afghan custody is Siddiqui’s son, Ahmed. The boy was detained July 18 when Afghan police arrested Siddiqui in what they described as a shootout near a government compound in Ghazni.

Siddiqui and her three children disappeared in Pakistan in 2003, and the case has been a cause celebre there ever since, prompting protests in Siddiqui’s home town of Karachi and dozens of editorials in local papers. In the midst of an uproar over the disappearances of Pakistani suspects this summer, Afghan officials said they had captured Siddiqui after she fired on the compound. She is now in a federal prison in New York, charged with attempted murder.

The FBI had spent years seeking information on Siddiqui, a U.S.-educated neuroscientist who officials feared was an al-Qaeda operative with knowledge of biological weapons. During that time, federal prosecutors and FBI officials have told Siddiqui’s mother, Ismat, they had no information on the location of Siddiqui or her children, an attorney for the family said yesterday.

The lawyers and Siddiqui family members yesterday questioned the U.S. government’s account that Siddiqui had resurfaced five years after disappearing with her three young children in Pakistan and that she escaped Afghan and U.S. agents after she was taken into custody.

Siddiqui’s family contended that the young mother and children were imprisoned during at least some of that time at a secret site, possibly by Afghan or Pakistani officials working in concert with the CIA. Her two younger children, who are also U.S. citizens and were 6 months and 5 years old when they disappeared, are still unaccounted for.

“Something is really dirty here. Everything about the government’s story smells,” said Elizabeth Fink, Siddiqui’s attorney, who said her client was psychologically traumatized over an extended period of time. “Whatever happened to this woman is terrible, and it’s incumbent on us to find out what it was.”

The CIA and the Justice Department denied that the United States had been holding Siddiqui or her children.

“As the Department of Justice has made clear, Ms. Siddiqui was not in U.S. custody before she was detained on July 17, 2008,” said CIA spokesman George Little. “Any suggestion that the CIA would imprison her children is wrong and offensive. Had we known where Ms. Siddiqui was prior to her capture, we would have shared that information with our partners in this country and overseas. She was a fugitive from American justice.”

Siddiqui, 36, studied behavioral sciences at MIT in the 1990s. By 2004, U.S. officials had dubbed her al-Qaeda’s “Mata Hari” and admitted they began watching her as a possible terrorism suspect in 2001 while she lived in Boston with her husband. Soon after Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was captured in 2003, Siddiqui and her three children vanished from a street corner in Karachi.

Siddiqui’s attorneys said they spoke with her after she was moved to New York earlier this month. Siddiqui will petition a federal court to have Ahmed placed in the custody of her brother in Texas, Fink said.

Fink and Elaine Whitfield Sharp, a lawyer for the Siddiqui family, said Aafia Siddiqui bears little resemblance to the woman in 2002 family photographs. Her nose has been broken, her lips and skin are deeply chapped, her face has a deathly pallor, and she is only periodically lucid, they said.

Ismail Jahangir, a spokesman for the governor of Ghazni province in Afghanistan, said Monday that the Afghan Interior Ministry took the boy into custody the same day Siddiqui was arrested. Jahangir said the governor’s office was not aware of what happened to the boy after he was handed over to the Interior Ministry.

An Interior Ministry official reached by phone in Kabul said Ahmed was held by the ministry for a day, then taken into custody by the Afghan National Security Directorate, an intelligence agency.

“We kept the boy for 24 hours because we do not have a right to hold him longer than that,” an Interior Ministry official said. “We sent him to the National Security Directorate, and I don’t know what happened to the boy after that.”

U.S. agents said the boy initially told them he was an orphan, according to the prosecutors’ letter to Siddiqui’s family.

The Afghan National Security Directorate has worked closely with CIA officials since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001. The agency has acted as the lead liaison in dozens of high-level detainee cases involving Afghan prisoners, including investigations involving detainees recently returned from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the U.S.-run prison at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s government, meanwhile, has made aggressive public appeals on Siddiqui’s behalf. Earlier this month, the country’s parliament passed a resolution calling for her immediate repatriation to Pakistan. Late last week, an official with Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government plans to send a delegation to Washington to look into her case.

Rondeaux reported from Islamabad, Pakistan. Staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.

Here is a related story on Aafia Siddiqui from the AP.


Local citizens who have concerns about the Camp Butner National Guard Training Center can voice your concerns through a survey provided here. The survey will be available for your comments until Sept. 19.

According to The [Henderson] Daily Dispatch; 

Local leaders and the military have said they want to make sure they do not find themselves in a catch-22 as residential development approaches Camp Butner from the Raleigh-Durham area.

They are working to address land use and environmental issues in a one-mile boundary surrounding the site. They want to ensure compatibility between the center’s mostly wooded hills and the nearby farmland giving way to new housing.

And they want input from citizens.

Source: The Arizona Republic

The two biggest mysteries since the Bush regime has been in power have been solved: the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7 collapse on 9/11 and the perpetrator of the October 2001 anthrax attacks. And it only took them seven years to do it!

In early August, the FBI announced that they knew who did the anthrax attacks. A mad scientist in the bioweapons labs. But, unfortunately, he “killed himself” before any evidence or a trial could determine his guilt. Case closed.

Last week, the final report and conclusion about the Building 7 collapse by the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that a “new phenomenon” caused this massive building to collapse perfectly in just under seven seconds. It said that never before in history has this “phenomenon” occurred and never before had a steel-framed building collapsed due to fire.

So there you have it, America. Both mysteries conveniently solved. No need to question either of these anymore. Just go about your business.

The “truth” is always much stranger than fiction. – Nick Scotto, Glendale

Couldn’t help but notice, some are still making the case that the NBAF will be a cash cow for their community in Georiga.  While more Connecticut politicos have stated that they would oppose the Plum Island expansion. Two Connecticut lawmakers, State Sen. Andrea Stillman (D-20th) and state Sen. Len Fasano, (R-34th) submitted their bi-partisan comments opposing the Plum Island expansion. Why are people still in favor of the facility in Athens?

“The estimated $12.5 million to $24.7 million increase in tax revenue far outweighs any fear of unwanted growth or minor environmental issues”.

There you have it, the estimated revenue is placed above “fear of unwanted growth or minor environmental issues”. In Connecticut not so much, state Sen. Andrea Stillman makes a very compelling and wise argument to the contrary;

Still, Stillman argued, “Economics should not be the sole deciding factor in a decision affecting the health and safety of the people living and traveling in the area.”

Now these politicos represent districts which have the potential to be affected by Plum Island’s operation. Ever heard of Old Lyme, Connecticut ? Why do they not welcome the estimated millions in revenue for Connecticut? (You can read their letter here)

The Plum Island site is located in the country’s most densely populated metropolitan region, which is home to some of the world’s largest transportation networks,” Stillman’s letter states. “We are gravely concerned that you have ignored the possibility of widespread transmission of diseases, both regionally and internationally. … “

The letter goes on to say that upgrading Plum Island, which is part of New York state, would increase its value as a target for terrorists in a “small section of the East Coast that is already carrying more than its fair share of potential terrorist targets.”

This is also the argument Leroy Watson, Legislative Director with the National Grange made in his congressional testimony back in May before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the U. S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“Our concern is that a facility located on the mainland would attract an extremely broad universe of potential terrorist or criminal organizations to use an attack on the facility to advance their goals,” Watson stated.

What was it DHS undersecertary Jay Cohen said? Oh yeah, “build it and they will come” this is one thing I hope he is wrong about. But honestly this debate will not end until the final site selection is made sometime in October. Even then some will not change their minds because;

Although the nay-sayers seem to be the more vocal side in this debate, we find Mead and Homeland Security more credible sources.

Daniel Mead, which the quote references is an associate research scientist with the College of Veterinary and according to his recent interview with the Red and Black. “Mead has visited Plum Island three to four times each year since 2000 to perform research as part of an agreement with the Department of Agriculture”.

If crediblity was the only issue at hand, sanitized statements would suffise however this debate is also about transparency, Mead just added to the lack of,

“Part of the USDA and the Armed Forces’ mission is to train not only veterinarians but the next generations of scientists.”

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