ABC News reported today that Pakistan attempted to exchange CIA contractor Raymond Davis for convicted al Qaeda operative Aafia Siddiqui. This should come as no surprise, as speculation about a possible prisoner exchange first appeared in the Pakistani press just days after Davis’ arrest. ABC News reports:
The government of Pakistan offered to trade a CIA contractor currently jailed in that country for a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected by U.S. intelligence to be an al Qaeda operative.
According to a senior American administration official and a Pakistani official involved in the negotiations to free CIA contractor Raymond Davis, the Pakistani government proposed trading Davis for Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT-educated Pakistani neuroscientist currently serving 86 years in federal prison for attempted murder.
The offer was immediately dismissed by the U.S. government. “The Pakistanis have raised it,” the U.S. official said. “We are not going to pursue it.”
Keep in mind that Aafia Siddiqui, who has been dubbed “Lady al Qaeda” by the press, was sentenced to 86 years in prison by a US jury in September 2010 for attempting to kill US troops in Afghanistan after being captured in Ghazni province. Siddiqi had close links to al Qaeda operational commander Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and was involved in several plots to attack the US homeland. From Thomas Joscelyn’s report on Siddiqui:
According to an indictment prepared by US prosecutors, Siddiqui had “various documents, various chemicals, and a computer thumb drive, among other things” in her possession when she was arrested. Handwritten notes she was carrying referred to a “mass casualty attack” and listed “various locations in the United States, including Plum Island, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and the Brooklyn Bridge.”
In addition, according to the indictment, “certain notes referred to the construction of ‘dirty bombs,’ chemical and biological weapons, and other explosives.” The notes “discussed mortality rates associated with certain of these weapons and explosives.”
Still other notes “referred to various ways to attack ‘enemies,’ including by destroying reconnaissance drones, using underwater bombs, and using gliders.”
Siddiqui’s computer thumb drive contained contained “correspondence that referred to specific ‘cells’ and ‘attacks’ by certain ‘cells’,” as well as documents discussing “recruitment and training.”
The notes and documents in Siddiqui’s possession reveal that she was most likely still involved in al Qaeda’s plotting against the US Homeland at the time of her capture. She apparently did not give up, even though many of her co-conspirators had been rolled up following KSM’s detention.
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