Aafia Siddiqui Trial: Defense Finally Begins

After six days of eyewitness testimony brought by the prosecution, the defense finally presented their own eyewitness to the shooting incident which led to the charges against Dr. Aafia Siddqui, a Pakistani woman facing trial in a New York Federal Court.

The eyewitness is an Afghan national who was in the room during the alleged shooting. However, unlike the prosecution Afghan witnesses he was not given a visa to come to the United States nor travel and housing money. Therefore, his testimony was conducted by video conference and submitted as evidence by the defense.

Abdul Qadeer, was the Deputy Head of Counterterrorism in Afghanistan, and by all accounts was one of the Afghan officials in the room when the alleged incident occurred.

According to Mr. Qadeer, Dr. Siddiqui was under constant watch when she was being interrogated in the room. He said that she was being watched before the Americans came in the room and that there was no need to guard her during the meeting because everyone in the room could see her. He explained that the curtain was about 3 feet open and there were 12 -13 Americans in the room along with Afghan officials. He said that not just one but many soldiers placed their rifles on the floor.

While recalling the actual shooting, Qadeer said that he saw a soldier go behind the curtain and then he heard 3 shots. These are the only shots he heard and soon afterwards he saw blood on the floor. Although his account is very different from those of the prosecution eyewitness he withstood an aggressive cross examination insisting that his account is exactly what he gave to FBI officials and prosecution lawyers who questioned him after the incident. During the cross Qadeer stated in a calm manner “everything I say is true”

Despite the fact that the prosecution has brought 6 eyewitnesses to testify against Siddiqui, Qadeer is the only eyewitness who does not have a connection with the U.S. military. If Mr. Qadeer’s account is correct and Siddiqui was not shot in self-defense then U.S. soldiers could face criminal charges in both U.S and International Courts. Moreover unlike all the Government witnesses, Qadeer’s account has been consistent from the beginning when the investigation began just days after the shooting.

Another effective defense witness William Tobin who has worked for NASA who testified as a forensics expert said that in his opinion a photograph showing two holes in the wall were, with “scientific certainty”, not consistent with either a high velocity or low velocity bullet hole. He said they were simply “not bullet holes”.

“SS09 bullets would have caused substantially more damage not only to the wall but also to the ceiling,” Mr. Tobin testified.

The expert also said that the firing of an M4 would be such a “devastating event from a material standpoint that there should be a lot of evidence at the scene”. According to his testimony FBI officials are trained in gathering even the smallest fragments of evidence, but in the description of the incident given by the Government there should have been even large fragments. Despite the fact that FBI officials were present at the shooting, no evidence of M4 shots were collect,, neither large fragments nor small ones. Furthermore, no M4 casings, bullets, or residue were found anywhere in the room.

The prosecution attempted to discredit the expert although he has testified on the governments behalf nearly 220 out of a total of 240 times in various court cases during his career.

After the proceedings adjourned for the day, Tina Foster, a spokesperson for the family from the International Justice Center, said that the family was optimistic based on the evidence presented so far. Foster said that if the jury is not influenced by the prejudicial and inflammatory terrorist related insinuations then Dr. Siddiqui will be acquitted given the fact that there is absolutely no forensic evidence indicating she is guilty of the crimes she is on trial for.

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