Tag - dr. aafia siddiqui

FBI Expert Cannot Confirm If Aafia Siddiqui Fired M-4 Rifle
Aafia Siddiqui Trial: Integrity of Evidence In Question
Aafia Siddiqui Trial: Jury Can Start Deliberation On Monday
Aafia Siddiqui Trial: Inconsistent Statements, No Physical Evidence
Jury finds Aafia Siddiqui Guilty
Are Children of Dr. Aafia Still Alive?

FBI Expert Cannot Confirm If Aafia Siddiqui Fired M-4 Rifle

FBI ballistics expert, Carlo Rosati, who testified on the fourth day of the high profile trial of Dr. Aafia Siddqui conceded that he cannot say with certainty that any shots were fired from the M4 rifle.

Aafia Siddiqui is accused of snatching an M-4 Army rifle and firing two rounds at a team of Americans who tried to question her in Afghanistan on July 18, 2008.

Rosati’s testimony included descriptions of his observations and his knowledge of firearms, bullet trajectories, and crime scene analyses.

The Prosecution tried to establish Rosati as an expert based on his vast personal experience in his fields, particularly the behavior of bullets when fired in various circumstances and the need to preserve crime scenes for proper analysis and testing.

Rosati testified that the firearms he examined in this case — the 9-mm pistol that the Chief Warrant Officer used to shoot the defendant and the M-4 rifle that the defendant allegedly used to attempt to kill U.S. officers — were operable and functioning at the time of testing.

Rosati also testified that the M-4 rifle was capable of delivering fully automatic fire and therefore qualified as a “machine gun.”
He said that based on his examination, one 9-mm bullet and two 9-mm cartridge cases recovered at the crime scene were fired from the Chief Warrant Officer’s 9-mm pistol.

Rosati testified that he examined a curtain obtained from the crime scene for the presence of gunshot residue, but none was found.
He then testified regarding various scenarios that can occur when a bullet fired from an M-4 rifle strikes a solid surface. He said that bullets from an M-4 rifle travels at a very high rate of speed, and can explode or fragment upon impacting hard surfaces, or can penetrate other surfaces.

Based on the texture and content of the debris that he examined in this case, he testified that a bullet fired from an M-4 rifle into a wall comprised of this material might shatter or fragment.

However, upon cross examination he conceded key element of the bullet – a steel tip that penetrates the target never fragments and should have remained intact.

At the conclusion of todays hearing, a spokesperson for Aafia Siddiqui’s family, Tina Foster commented, “we were reminded again today that the evidence shows that only one shooting is definitive—that is the shooting of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Today’s testimony again confirmed that the only bullets and casings found at the scene of the crime were from the handgun used by the Chief Warrant Officer.”

During cross examination Defense Attorney Charles Swift asked the FBI expert if he was certain that the one 9-mm bullet and two 9-mm cartridge cases recovered at the crime scene were fired from the Chief Warrant Officer’s 9-mm pistol. FBI expert Rosati categorically said, “Yes”.

When asked if he is certain an M-4 was ever shot at the crime scene, the FBI expert responded in negative.

The FBI expert also agreed that there was no evidence that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui fired an M4 rifle. He agreed that if a bullet fired from M4 rifle penetrated the wall, as alleged by the government, it would have been found. He said he had examined the debris of the wall and did not find any evidence that would lead him to believe that a bullet penetrated the wall.

Rosati also agreed with the defense attorney that no gun shot residue was found on the curtain, which was allegedly within six inches of the M4 when it was fired.

Defense attorney Charles Swift who previously worked for the U.S. Navy in the area of criminal defense, retained his reputation as a premier trial attorney. He was quick in demonstrating holes in the narrative of the FBI expert.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was again escorted out of the courtroom after saying, “I can bring peace with Afghanistan in one day.”

Aafia Siddiqui spoke during the break when jurors were out of the room and said, “I want to testify, but they have taken my right to testify”. Addressing people who come to support her, she said “there is no use for revenge and forgiveness is necessary”.

She sat up leaning back on the chair with her head facing upwards staring at the eagle on the ceiling. When she entered the room Friday morning she greeted her brother who was seated four benches behind her.

Aafia Siddiqui Trial: Integrity of Evidence In Question

On the third day of testimony in the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman charged with attempted murder of U.S. soldiers, FBI forensic analysts conceded that evidence from the crime scene in Ghazni, Afghanistan was not properly preserved or timely collected.

When cross examining FBI Forensic expert DJ Fife, Aafia Siddiqui’s defense attorney established that evidence arrived for analysis approximately fifteen days after she was shot in Afghanistan.

FBI’s fingerprinting expert had earlier testified that he did not find any finger prints on the M4 rifle, but that in his 6 year experience in the field there is only a 10% chance of obtaining fingerprints from a firearm due to its “non-porous” surface.

Ms. Sharp questioned the testimony of D.J. Fife based on his experience and generally accepted principles in his forensic field – that latent fingerprints are recovered from firearms only about ten percent of the time. She also suggested that Fife’s opinion is not scientifically reliable, and, in the alternative, that his opinion is more unfairly prejudicial than probative “in that it is offered in an attempt to sway the jurors in favor of the Government’s case.”

Fife also talked about the general difficulties inherent in obtaining fingerprints from non-porous surfaces, such as firearms, and specifically that fingerprints are recovered from firearms approximately less than ten percent of the time. He had testified that various factors affect the ability to obtain fingerprints from firearms and other non-porous surfaces, including atmospheric conditions, environmental conditions, perspiration and the nature of the surface itself.

When asked how many guns he has analyzed, FBI expert conceded that his experience was limited around 10 to 20 weapons that he has analyzed. When asked why did he not take pictures of areas where finger prints could have been visible, FBI expert said it was of ‘no value.’

Fife testified that he conducted a series of tests on the M-4 rifle, and that after each step he inspected the rifle for identifiable latent fingerprints. Based on that examination, Fife concluded that no latent prints of value – belonging to the defendant or anyone else — could be identified on the M-4 rifle.

Fife had testified that the physical features of individuals — in this case, the small size of the defendant’s hands and fingers —negatively affect the ability to obtain fingerprints of value from items with which those individuals have been in contact.

Upon cross examination Fife said he had not tested Aafia Siddiqui’s palm and he was not in the position to characterize her hand as ‘small.’

FBI Special Agent Hurly who was tasked to collect evidence told government’s attorney that he left behind parts of M4 rifle because there was a shortage of equipment. He also said that he went back to the crime scene with the Chief Warrant Officer who is suspected of shooting Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in the belly.

When cross examined by Defense attorney Ms. Moreno, Agent Hurly said the delay in collecting evidence was due to logistical problems in the battle ground. “It is not New York City,” he retorted.

When asked why he left behind parts of M4 rifles that were prone to retaining finger prints, Agent Hurly said he made the decision so that an American army personal would be adequately equipped.

Tina Foster of International Justice Network who speaks on behalf of the family told us: “In both the testimony of FBI Agent Fife, and FBI Agent Hurly, we heard how very important and potentially exculpatory evidence was destroyed and/or excluded from their investigation. The government failed to properly secure the gun and all of its parts, the crime scene, and the partial fingerprints pulled from the weapon. Despite the clear import of this case (as evidenced by President Karazi’s involvement), FBI Agent Hurley told us that the investigation did not even begin until one week had passed. Moreover, the investigation itself was anything but unbiased. Those directly involved in the shooting of Dr. Siddiqui were responsible for guiding the investigation of the crime scene.”

Today even the jurors and journalists had to go through the metal detector. A person present at the hearing suggested that metal detectors are creating an impression as if “Aafia Siddiqui is very dangerous or the people who are coming to support her are potential threat.”

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui sat next to her lawyers and did not say a word. Her brother sat four benches behind her.

Aafia Siddiqui Trial: Jury Can Start Deliberation On Monday

Jury in Dr. Aafia Siddiqui trial is likely to begin deliberations Monday afternoon after prosecution and defense attorneys make closing statements.

In a taped video deposition presented by defense on Friday, Bashir, an Afghan police officer testified that he saw an American officer walk behind the curtain just before he heard gun shots, and that he never saw Dr. Siddiqui pick up a gun. Bashir was the last defense witness.

Earlier in the day Judge Richard Berman allowed prosecution to produce additional witnesses to rebut claims made by the defense witnesses and experts.

With lack of physical evidence and burden of proof – the Government has to demonstrate with mathematical certitude that Dr. Siddiqui grabbed the Chief Warrant Officer’s M4 Assault Rifle and fired at United States officers and employees in Ghazni, Afghanistan on July 18, 2008.

A point of possible contention was raised Friday when Bashir testified there were two shell casing found in the room. Government has produced only one .9mm shell casing as evidence during the trial.

The prosecution offered rebuttal witnesses, intended to respond to the evidence presented by the defense. First, the prosecution called a firing range owner, Gary Woodworth, who testified that he remembered Dr. Siddiqui coming to the shooting range 19 years ago.

However under cross examination, Mr. Woodworth also admitted that there were no records of Dr. Siddiqui ever having visited the shooting range, and that even if she had, it could have been as part of her physical education requirements at MIT.

Mr. Woodworth also acknowledged being a member of the National Rifle Association and having very close relationships with law enforcement officers. He also admitted that the course he alleged she came for is a very basic training pistol course.

When asked by a defense attorney if he remembered the student he taught before Aafia he said, “no”; if he remembered the student he taught after Aafia, he said “no”.

The prosecution then called FBI Special Agent Bruce Kammerman, who testified that while recuperating at Bagram Airbase hospital, Dr. Siddiqui had told him that she had picked up the gun because she wanted to scare people in order to ease her escape.

However, on cross-examination, Agent Kammerman admitted that his original handwritten notes about the conversation did not mention anything about “picking up” the gun, but only Dr. Siddiqui’s desire to escape, and that the reference to the gun was added only in the final typed report.

Kammerman testified that during the conversations she was “lucid”, but he was not aware of what medications she was on and did not inquire about them. He testified that he addressed all of her needs for food, water, and bathroom use during his 12 hour daily shifts monitoring her.

In Aafia Siddiqui’s direct testimony during her time at the hospital she said that Bruce’s presence was “torture” for her as he would cross examination, Kammerman conceded that when she needed to go to the bathroom he did insist that the door be open for “security”.

According to Siddiqui’s testimony, he would stay all night and because of this during his entire 12 hour shifts she could not go to the bathroom.

The Prosecution then brought the other FBI agent who monitored Dr. Siddiqui while in the hospital, Angela Sercer. Sercer is a female Special Agent who also kept 12 hour shifts every day that Siddiqui was at the hospital. She offered similar testimony to Kammerman, however, acknowledged that Siddiqui was on a wide variety of medications including, morphine, ativan, haldol, phentinol, and percocet; still she maintained that Siddiqui was “lucid”.

According to Siddiqui Angela seemed like a “nice person”

Both Sercer and Kammerman testified that their purpose in being with Siddiqui was for “security” and to “gather intelligence” about matters unrelated to the shooting incident. They both also testified that Siddiqui initiated the conversations.

If neither of these fact were accurate then Miranda Laws would apply and these alleged self-incriminating statements would not be admissible in court.

According to Miranda laws an arrested individual must be advised of their rights including the right to an attorney and/or consular staff, and right not to speak. Also, law enforcement officals must identify themselves. Although Siddiqui was not read her Miranda rights and FBI officals did not identify themselves, the judge has allowed their testimony.

Thursday had marked a turning point in the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who decided to take the witness stand in her own defense.

She declared under oath for the first time that she “was tortured in a secret prison” and that her missing children are all that has been on her mind every day. Dr. Siddiqui denied ever having shot at anyone, and appeared to remain unshaken even under intense cross-examination by the prosecution.

She explained that she was shot by US soldiers while attempting to peek around the curtain partition in the interrogation room, while looking for a way to escape.

Before her testimony was cut short by the Judge, Dr. Siddiqui mentioned that her fear of being sent back to a secret prison had made her anxious to escape.

Aafia Siddiqui Trial: Inconsistent Statements, No Physical Evidence

The prosecution in the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Tuesday presented their final witness who again alleged that she grabbed the Chief Warrant Officer’s M-4 rifle, and fired at the US officials at the Afghan National Police headquarters on July 18th, 2008.

During the past six days of the trial in the Southern District of New York the government has tried to make a case on seven counts, based on alleged events that occurred at an Afghan National Police Compound in Ghazni, Afghanistan on July 17 and 18, 2008.

The charges stem from Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s arrest on July 17, 2008 by the ANP in Ghazni, Afghanistan.

Government witnesses testified that the ANP recovered a number of items from Dr. Aafia Siddiqui certain of which were provided to the United States military including a number of handwritten and pre-printed documents, chemical compound that tested positive for sodium cyanide, and a computer thumb drive which contained various electronic documents.

Government witnesses have testified that after initial review of these items, the United States military contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist in interviewing Dr. Siddiqui.

Government witnesses also testified that on July 18th 2008 a team of United States military personnel and two FBI agents traveled to the ANP headquarters to with the intention of interviewing Dr. Siddiqui.

Every government witness testified that the US team was directed to a second floor room of the ANP Headquarters in Ghazni. However all the eyewitnesses gave conflicting accounts as to exactly what happened on key issues, such as who was seated where; where the M4 rifle was placed, and the sequence of events before during and after the shooting.

Although the prosecution has argued that its very common for eyewitnesses to recall events differently, a majority of the Governments witnesses also gave testimony that conflicted with their own sworn statements given just days after the incident to FBI agents.

During cross examination Special Agent Eric Negron said a thought had crossed his mind that this could had been a set-up by the ANP. But, he did not mentioned this critical thought in anyone of his subsequent statements – not in July, August or December.

Just like the US Warrant Officer who shot Dr. Siddiqui, FBI Special Agent Negron was also not able to explain statements he gave earlier regarding the incident which significantly differed from his testimony at trial.

The Prosecution also presented their 2nd Afghan Eyewittness, a 25 year old interpreter who works for the U.S. Military through a private contractor. He had been working for the army since he was 20 years old and was so influenced by his work for the military that he could not refrain from using a variety of military jargon, unknown to most lay people. When he wanted to answer no, he said “negative”. When he wanted to answer, yes he said “Roger”.

In his testimony the “terp” (interpreter) as he refers to himself, placed the M4 rifle and Chief Warrant Officer in a different location from where the Officer himself had testified to. Moreover, when he was asked if he heard Siddiqui say “I want to kill Americans”, “Allah Akbar”, or “May the blood of…”, as she allegedly pointed the rifle he confidently said “No”.

A major inconsistency was noted in Sgt. Williams testimony who clearly remembered female Medic, Rene Card to be standing outside just steps behind him – not in the room as she had earlier testified. In her testimony Medic Card had contradicted prior witnesses who had placed the M4 rifle and relevant witnesses at differing locations at the scene.

Sgt. Cook who stood outside the ANP compound said he heard gun shots from the room on the second floor. He did not see Dr. Siddiqui with the gun or shooting a M4 rifle. He said he went to get the stretcher – but Dr. Siddiqui was already brought outside. This contradicts Medic Card who had testified she brought the stretcher in the room and had placed Dr. Siddiqui on the stretcher in the room.

Not two Government witnesses in past six days have provided a consistent account of the shooting incident. No physical evidence was provided to substantiate Dr. Siddiqui shot the rifle.

Jury finds Aafia Siddiqui Guilty

The 12 member jury deliberating the fate of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has returned with a verdict of Guilty on all seven counts of attempted murder and assault charges. She faces life in prison.

Her defense attorney’s have already been preparing an appeal which they said they will be filing expeditiously.

Judge Richard Berman has scheduled sentencing on May 6th, 2010.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was charged in seven counts allegedly based on events that occurred at an Afghan National Police Compound in Ghazni, Afghanistan on July 17 and 18, 2008:

(1) attempting to kill United States nationals in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332(b) (Count One);
(2) attempting to kill United States officers and employees in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1114 (Count Two);
(3) armed assault of United States officers and employees in
violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 111(b) (Count Three);
(4) discharging a firearm during a crime of violence in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c) (Count Four);
and (5) assaulting United States officers and employees in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 111(a) (Counts Five through Seven).

Government’s position:

“The charges stem from the defendant’s apprehension on July 17, 2008 by the ANP in Ghazni, Afghanistan. Upon being arrested, the ANP recovered a number of items from the defendant, certain of which were provided to the United States military. These items included a number of handwritten and pre-printed documents, women’s personal effects, various chemicals (certain of which tested positive for sodium cyanide), and a computer thumb drive which contained various electronic documents. Based in part on its review of these items, the United States military contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) to assist in interviewing and identifying the individual whom the ANP had detained (later determined to be the defendant).”

“The following day, a team of United States military personnel and FBI agents (the “Interview Team”) traveled to the ANP Compound at which the defendant was held, in order to interview and identify her. Eventually the Interview Team was directed to a second floor room
at the ANP Compound. Unbeknownst to the Interview Team, the defendant was left unsecured in the room, behind a curtain that partitioned it. After the Interview Team entered the room, the
defendant grabbed one of the Team member’s (the “Warrant Officer”) M-4 rifle, and attempted to fire, and fired, it at members of the Interview Team. In response, the Warrant Officer shot the defendant, and she was subsequently subdued. During and immediately after this shooting, the defendant repeatedly screamed anti-American statements, including her desire to kill Americans. The Interview Team then brought the defendant to a military base, where her wounds were treated. The same day, two members of the Interview Team brought the defendant to another military base for medical treatment, and then to Bagram Airbase, where she remained until August 4, when she was transferred to this District.”

Jury returned a verdict saying it was not premeditated murder, however, it was an attempted murder. This will reduce maximum sentence from 40 years to 30 years.

Tina Foster, spokesperson for the family issued the following statement:
“Today marks the close of another sad chapter in the life of our
sister, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Today she was unjustly found guilty.
Though she was not charged with any terrorism-related offense, Judge
Berman permitted the prosecution’s witnesses to characterize our
sister as a terrorist — which, based on copious evidence, she clearly
is not. Today’s verdict is the result of many legal errors that
allowed the prosecution to build a case against our sister based on
hate, rather than fact. We believe that as a result, she was denied a
fair trial, and today’s verdict must be overturned on appeal.”

Are Children of Dr. Aafia Still Alive?

Throughout the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, human rights observers have been waiting anxiously for more clues as to what happened to her and her children during the five years that she was reported missing by family members. They come every day earlier and earlier, to ensure they get a seat in the very limited space reserved for the public.

Shortly after the trial began as a government eyewitness described the documents that were allegedly found in her possession, including hand written notes on how to make a dirty bomb, she shouted out “it’s a lie…I was told to copy from a magazine…if you were held in a secret prison and your children were tortured”; at which point she was whisked away by U.S. Marshalls.

The court then took a recess and when the trial resumed, prosecutors requested that it be stricken from the record. But in closing remarks, defense attorney reminded everyone that the prosecution never challenged that assertion. Something terrible happened to Dr. Siddiqui, Moreno said. But without more information, it would be hard for any juror who is not an avid consumer of non-mainstream or foreign media, to be able to even imagine what that horror may have been.

In the morning before the closing remarks, the last government witness, FBI Special Agent, Angela Sercer testified. Sercer monitored Siddiqui for 12 hours a day over a two week period while she was at a hospital in Bagram. She tried to rebut Aafia Siddiqui’s testimony, by saying that Siddiqui told her she was in “hiding” for the last five years and further that she “married” someone to change her name.

However under cross examination, Sercer admitted that while at the hospital Siddiqui expressed fear of “being tortured”. Sercer also admitted that Siddiqui expressed concern about the “welfare of the boy” and asked about him “every day”. Moreover, that Siddiqui only agreed to talk to her upon promises that the boy would be safe. According to the testimony Siddiqui said that the Afghans had “beaten her”; that her “husband had beaten her and her children”; and that she was “afraid of coming into physical harm”.

When Sercer was further questioned about what Siddiqui said about her children during that two week period, she admitted that Siddiqui expressed concern about the “safety and welfare of her children”, but felt that the “kids had been killed or tortured in a secret prison”. “She said that they were dead, didn’t she” asked Defense attorney, Elaine Sharpe; reluctantly Sercer answered, “Yes”.

Siddiqui herself may not know whether the children are alive or not. In a psychiatric report she told an interviewer “my baby is flying but he does not grow”, “maybe it’s because I’m not nursing him”. Nonetheless, it is surprising that the testimony presented at her trial did not prompt an immediate state department investigation. After all, at least one of the children, Maryum, who would now be 10 years old, is a U.S. Citizen.

If it is true that the kids have been killed, then, the question arises, who will be charged with “attempting to murder a U.S. National”, for that crime.

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