Afia Siddiqui - Islamic State’s Pakistan connection

August 22, 2014 11:56 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:25 pm IST - Washington

This week the “cancer” of the Islamic State (IS) appeared to be spreading from Syria and Iraq into the proximity of India when it was revealed that an email sent by the militant group to the family of a hostage, now executed, called for the release of Dr. Afia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist facing life in prison in the U.S. on assault charges linked to terrorism.

In IS’ last email, on August 12, to the family of murdered journalist >James Foley , they wrote, “We have also offered prisoner exchanges to free the Muslims currently in your detention like our sister >Dr. Afia Sidiqqi , however, you proved very quickly to us that this is NOT what you are interested in.”

Dr. Siddiqui, an MIT-trained neuroscientist, was arrested in Afghanistan in 2008 and discovered to have materials relating to chemical weapons, dirty bombs and viruses, leading to suspicions that she may have been planning attacks against “American enemies.”

She was subsequently jailed by a U.S. court for 86 years, although her name resurfaced in news circles once again in 2011 after the Pakistan government reportedly offered to exchange her for >Raymond Davis , the CIA contractor, who shot two people dead on the streets of Lahore in 2011.

According to some reports, Dr. Siddiqui is seen as “an Islamic ‘damsel in distress’, who has been persecuted for her faith,” and sympathy for over her arrest, detention and extradition to the U.S. is “widespread in Pakistan.”

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