Asia

Aafia Siddiqui biography: 13 things about neuroscientist born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan

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Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani neuroscientist. She was born to a Sunni Muslim family in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.

Siddiqui is 5’4″ tall and she is a mother of three. Here are 13 more things about her:

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  1. In 1990, she came to the United States on a student visa. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA and studied cognitive neuroscience at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
  2. In 1995, she agreed to a marriage arranged by her mother to Amjad Mohammed Khan, an anesthesiologist who was also born in Karachi. The wedding ceremony was conducted over the phone. He later came to the U.S. and they lived in Lexington, Massachusetts before moving to Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts. She gave birth to their son Muhammad Ahmed in 1996 and to their daughter Mariam Bint-e Muhammad in 1998.
  3. In 1999, she founded a nonprofit called the Institute of Islamic Research and Teaching in Boston.
  4. In 2001, she obtained a PhD in neuroscience from Brandeis University and moved to Malden, Massachusetts with her husband and their two children. She worked as a courier for Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the main architect of the series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the militant Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda against the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Immediately prior to the attacks, she, using the alias Fahrem or Feriel Shahin, and five other alleged al-Qaeda members bought $19 million worth of blood diamonds in Monrovia, Liberia, which were untraceable assets to be used for funding al-Qaeda operations.
  5. On June 26, 2002, she, Khan and their two children returned to Karachi. In September 2002, she gave birth to their son Suleman. On October 21, 2002, the couple’s divorce was finalized. She went to the U.S. on December 25, 2002 and went back to Pakistan on January 2, 2003.
  6. In February 2003, she married Muhammad’s nephew Ammar al-Baluchi.
  7. According to the U.S. government, she and her children went into hiding with al-Baluchi’s family from March 2003 to July 2008 but according to her supporters and the Pakistani government, the U.S. held her as a prisoner during this period.
  8. In 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation placed her on a list of its seven most wanted al-Qaeda fugitives. She was the only woman on the list.
  9. On July 17, 2008, she was arrested in Ghazni, Afghanistan. She was carrying a bag with documents about how to make Ebola, chemical weapons, dirty bombs, explosives and radiological agents. On July 18, 2008, she allegedly shot at FBI and U.S. Army interrogators in Ghazni with an M4 carbine one of them had placed on the floor. An officer returned fire, wounding her. While being treated in Afghanistan on July 31, 2008, she was charged in New York, USA with assault with a deadly weapon and with attempting to kill a U.S. Army captain while engaged in official duties. She was flown to New York on August 4, 2008 and made her first court appearance in Manhattan, New York City, New York on August 6, 2008.
  10. In April 2009, Manhattan federal judge Richard Berman held that she was competent to stand trial although she “may have some mental health issues.” Three of four psychiatrists concluded that she was faking her mental illness symptoms.
  11. On February 3, 2010, she was found guilty of armed assault, using and carrying a firearm, two counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault on U.S. officers and employee. On September 23, 2010, Berman sentenced her to 86 years in prison.
  12. She was originally held at Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn in Brooklyn, New York City and later transferred for medical reasons to Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Her release date is May 7, 2082.
  13. She was 49 years old when a hostage-taker at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas mentioned that he wanted to speak with her on January 15, 2022.
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