Four people have been taken hostage in Texas by gunmen demanding the release of Afia Siddiqui, a Pakistani terrorist. Malik Faisal Akram, a British national, detained four people for hours at a synagogue in the city. They were finally released ten hours later by FBI agents. The assailant Malik Faisal was killed.
Afia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year prison sentence after being convicted in Manhattan in 2010 on charges that she sought to shoot US military officers while being detained in Afghanistan two years earlier, is back in the limelight after the Texas incident.
Who is Afia?
Afia Siddiqui is a Pakistani neuroscientist who studied in the United States at prestigious institutions. She attracted the attention of American law enforcement in the years after the September 11 attacks. Top FBI and Justice Department described her as an “al-Qaida operative and facilitator” at a May 2004 news conference in which they warned of intelligence showing al-Qaida planned an attack in the coming months.
In 2008, she was detained by authorities in Afghanistan. American officials said they found in her possession handwritten notes that discussed the construction of so-called “dirty bombs” and that listed various locations in the US that could be targeted in a “mass casualty attack.”
As per reports, inside an interview room at an Afghan police compound, she grabbed the M-4 rifle of one of a US Army officer and opened fire on members of the US team assigned to interrogate her. She was later punished for 86-year prison sentence.
The reaction of Pakistan was furious who prompted protests in multiple cities and criticism in the media. The prime minister at the time, Yousuf Raza Gilani, called her the “daughter of the nation” and vowed to campaign for her release from jail. In the years since, Pakistani leaders have openly floated the idea of swaps or deals that could result in her release.
Siddiqui is being held at a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas. She was attacked in July by another inmate at the facility and suffered serious injuries, according to court documents.