In Interview With Pro-Taliban Outlet, Aafia Siddiqui's Lawyer Clive Stafford Smith Says: Afghan Taliban Intelligence Gave Me Special Security Guards: 'When It Became Clear To The Americans That [Siddiqui] Was Not A Member Of Al-Qaeda, They Wanted To Get Rid Of Her, And Tried To Kill Her [By Portraying Her] As A Suicide Bomber'

April 11, 2024

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On March 27, 2024, former Pakistani senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan tweeted that British attorney Clive Stafford Smith had held a four-hour meeting with Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist who is serving an 86-year prison term in Texas for trying to kill U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and her links to Al-Qaeda. The meeting followed the lawyer's recent visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Although Siddiqui was reportedly arrested in Afghanistan, analysts in Pakistan say she was picked up in a joint Pakistani-U.S. intelligence operation from Pakistan and taken to Afghanistan.[1] "This is the 21st Ramadan of Dr. Aafia in torture cells and a hell-like jail far from her family and children," Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, said, adding he would go to the U.S. after Eid Al-Fitr, which this year will be on April 11, "to expedite efforts for her release, Allah willing."[2]

In the first week of December 2023, the pro-Islamic State (ISIS) "Free The Captives" Telegram channel, devoted mostly to news about ISIS prisoners, had shared a post from Smith, discussing a meeting with Aafia Siddiqui that ended in tears, with the pro-ISIS channel urging Islamic religious scholars, community leaders, and soldiers of the ummah, to free her.[3]

In May 2023, Aafia Siddiqui had met with her sister Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, and Smith at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell, Texas. Commenting on the meeting, columns in Urdu-language Pakistani daily Roznama Jasarat had demanded her release from the U.S. prison, saying: "Even the judge who sentenced Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was of Jewish descent."[4]

Protesters in Pakistan demand release of Aafia Siddiqui (image courtesy: Internet)

On his visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan in February and March of 2024, Smith met with media figures and held press conferences, notably in Karachi,[5] the Pakistani city where in March 2023 he cut a birthday cake for Siddiqui behind a symbolic prison window.[6] In Afghanistan, Yaqeen Media, one of several media outlets that have emerged after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in mid-August 2021, interviewed Smith. Yaqueen Media published the interview, which was originally conducted in English, with Pashtu dubbing.[7]

In the interview, Smith said that the Afghan Taliban intelligence had given him special and private security guards for his security and noted that he was in Afghanistan to work on Siddiqui's case and those of Guantanamo Bay detainees. He later said, in a portion of the interview discussing Siddiqui: "If people were to hear what America did to an innocent woman, then the true face of America would become clear to people, and they may rise up against it..." He adds: "When it became clear to the Americans that she was not a member of Al-Qaeda, they wanted to get rid of her, and tried to kill her [by portraying her] as a suicide bomber."

Noting that he took Siddiqui's case at the request of her sister Fowzia, he said: "I have dealt with the case of hundreds of people who were imprisoned and tortured by America, but the case of Aafia Siddiqui is the most difficult. Aafia Siddiqui was sold for $55,000 and she was kidnapped along with her three children, one of whom was Sulaiman, the other Hamid, and her daughter Maryam. They were kidnapped in Karachi; in the very beginning they killed her son Sulaiman and brought Aafia and her two children to Kabul."

Siddiqui's two remaining children were later found in America with American citizenship, he said, adding that Maryam was with a Christian family in America. "There are definitely people in Afghanistan who have information about this girl [Maryam], and if anyone has information about this girl, please contact me, because I would like to know about her," he said.

Pro-Taliban channel Yaqeen Media interviewed Clive Stafford Smith (right).

He said of Siddiqui's son: "Her son Hamid was put in a prison in Afghanistan, and he spent five years there. The Americans had told him that if he told anyone his name, Hamid Siddiqui, they would kill him, so they named him Ali. I hope to meet him, if anyone has worked with the Red Cross [in Afghanistan], he may have information."

He said: "America still lies about her, that she used to travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but she was not like that. We got information from some Afghans who had worked at Bagram about Aafia, whose cell number was 650, and she was tortured a lot by the Americans... When it became clear to the Americans that she was not a member of Al-Qaeda, they wanted to get rid of her, and tried to kill her [by portraying her] as a suicide bomber. So, they sent her to Ghazni, and told her that she would be reunited with her daughter."

Smith further said that when Siddiqui went to Ghazni, where she waited for six hours in front of Khalid bin Waleed Mosque, thinking that they would bring her daughter to her. But someone had said that Siddiqui was a suicide bomber, so some people came with cars and surrounded her and wanted to kill her, but a boy who knew Urdu came and spoke to Siddiqui in Urdu, and ended up saving her life.

Siddiqui was reportedly shot by accident and then later taken to America, Smith says, noting that she is now serving an 86-year prison sentence in a Texas prison. "Guantanamo is very bad, but what happened to this poor woman is not even comparable to Guantanamo, she was raped twice... This prison is full of American soldiers, most of whom are accused of sexual assault," he said.

A pamphlet says: "There are organizations for the rights of animals, and silence for Dr. Aafia."

Asked what the United States expected to gain from imprisoning Siddiqui, Smith said: "These are the statistics of the 780 prisoners in Guantanamo, about whom the American government has said that they are the worst terrorists in the world. We got 99 percent of them released... from the prison in Guantanamo. It was revealed that all of them were innocent; they were all sold to the Americans for money."

"There are two reasons. First, if they tell the truth about the prisoners at Guantanamo, that they are not all terrorists, they will appear very stupid; it would reveal that they cannot win this war. So, they keep it a secret and lie about it so that no one knows about it. And another reason for keeping it secret is that if people were to hear what America did to an innocent woman, then the true face of America would become clear to people, and they may rise up against it," he adds.

Smith said: "if I had known that she would be released, I would not have said these words in this interview." He said the Americans say that Siddiqui wanted to kill a soldier in Ghazni province, but this is not true. "I have been working on this case for a year, and there is a lot of work, the biggest evidence is in Afghanistan. But it is still very difficult to find the evidence to release this woman by the end of this year..." he adds.


[1] Twitter, March 3, 2023.

[2] Twitter, March 27, 2024.

[3] Telegram, December 8, 2023.

[5] Twitter, February 29, 2024.

[6] Twitter, March 2, 2023.

[7] YouTube, March 11, 2024.

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