Pakistani Taliban want to trade Swiss hostages for Lady al Qaeda


“Lady al Qaeda” Aafia Siddiqui, from her wanted poster.

On Thursday, South Waziristan Taliban leader Waliur Rehman Mehsud said he ordered the kidnapping of two Swiss citizens in Baluchistan province, and said he would release the Swiss couple if the US freed Aafia Siddiqui. From The Associated Press:

He said his group ordered the kidnapping in order to gain freedom for Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated mother of three who is serving 86 years in an American jail for trying to kill US officials in Afghanistan.

Rehman said the Swiss have not been tortured.

But he said that if Siddiqui is not freed, a Taliban court will decide the fate of the pair.

Siddiqui, who is known as “Lady al Qaeda,” was one of the most wanted women in the world prior to her capture in 2008. She was involved in planning al Qaeda attacks in the US. For more on Siddiqui, see LWJ report, ‘Lady al Qaeda’ sentenced to 86 years in prison.

The Pakistani Taliban is not the first group to call for Siddiqui’s release. Siddiqui has been a cause celebre in Pakistan for Islamist terror groups, Islamist and secular political parties, and the Pakistani government.

In September 2010, Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain held a rally in Karachi that called for the release of Siddiqui. Hussain said the charges against Siddiqui “are false,” according to The Express Tribune. The rally drew over 300,000 people.

In December 2010, top al Qaeda ideologue Abu Yahya al Libi released a propaganda tape calling on Muslims to wage jihad to avenge Aafia Siddiqui. The tape was entitled “Aafia Siddiqui…Captivity and Oppression, So Where Are the Heroes?” See LWJ report, Analysis: ‘Lady al Qaeda’ in propaganda.

In February 2011, the Pakistani government attempted to work a deal with the US to exchange CIA contractor Raymond Davis for Siddiqui. Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani has referred to Siddiqui as a “daughter of the nation,” The New York Times reported. The Pakistani government ultimately freed Davis after a month of intense US diplomatic pressure.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • GB says:

    Negotiating with terrorists sets a bad precedent. No hostage swaps, especially if Bergdahl is not involved in the deal.
    Siddiqui was described as a “daughter of the nation”. This says enough about Pakistan’s motives. One more attack on U.S soil and these people will see the true might of our nation. I am of prime fighting age and I would have no problem with the government re-enacting the military draft for operations in Pakistan. We civilians are ready to answer the call of duty just like our grandfathers did in WW2.

  • Eric says:

    Taking a page from the Iranian IRGC handbook on government-run kidnap and exchange operations, we might consider this approach:
    The US can offer to conduct a prisoner exchange with the ISI and Pak Military, in which we hand over Aaifa Siddiqi to the Paki’s under terms amounting to “As-Is-No-Warranty” in exchange for all of the remaining persons on our 10-most wanted list, along with AQZ, QZR, and Siraj Haqqani’s complete coterie. We will accept them as well in an “As-Is-No-Warranty” condition.
    No in-flight meals would be required for the prisoners if they were dead at handover time.

  • Charu says:

    Yeah, she IS the daughter of the nation; just as Osama bin Laden was the best friend of the nation.

  • Vienna,31-07-2011
    The issue is not that simple.Pakistan government is
    playing it contradictory.1. It did not have a lawyer for the commando Ajmal Kasab at the trial in Bombay.
    2.But it has fielded a lawyer in the U.S. federal court on a related case where ISI is implicated.3.
    It wants to approve U.S. Ambassador moving out of Islamabad.4. Its Ambassador in the U.S. is more
    than free to roam about the U.S.5. Its proxy terrorists ask for the swapping of lady Al Queda
    with the neutral country Switzerland.6.It needs donations from Friends of Democratic Pakistan, FoDP.7.It is seeking financing from International Monetary Fund without American help.8.It is unimaginable the proxies are pricking all weather friend China Xinxiyang.9.Without an established
    rule of law within the country,it seeks to have
    a say in Afghanistan.10.Pakistan punishes CIA for picking up Osama Bin Laden,OBL without owning up
    it was indeed sheltering him.11.It claims without validity Pakistan soldiers are better than the
    Afghan soldiers.The list can go on too long.A
    time has come for Pakistan establish itself by
    merit and reciprocity.
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring,TTTMM
    India, Kulamarva Balakrishna

  • James says:

    Eric, I like your suggestions. We can (and most likely should) manipulate the bargaining process (to gain actionable intel) just as they do.
    Between US and [our so-called ‘ally’] Pakistan, it has [or, at least should] become a game of, ‘who can scr?w who’.
    Ayman al Zawihiri should head the list in what we’d expect for an ‘exchange’ for Siddiqi [in addition to maybe Mullah Omar].
    They want her that bad, the question is [assuming we’d even consider it], what would they be willing to give up in return. Maybe the real-time GPS coordinate locations of Zawihiri and/or Omar?
    Or, at least maybe permission in writing (whether public or private) for US to take out those thugs if/when our guys can zero in on them [so the paks can’t publicly whine about it if and when we do].

  • Jim says:

    This once again demonstrates the outrageous duplicity of the Pakistanis. We also need more good investigative journalism into China’s role in funding, encouraging, arming and sustaining the Islamist’s global war against the US. It is in their best interest that the US continues to be “pinned down” by brush fires everywhere. The Pakistanis are handling this for China in Afganistan and elsewhere just like Iran is.
    Bill, I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

  • r. barricas says:

    Negotiating with terrorists sets a bad precedent
    very bad idea


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