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'Lady Al Qaeda': Pakistan reacts to Aafia Siddiqui conviction in US court

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FBI agents and US soldiers testified that during her interrogation at an Afghan police station, she grabbed an assault rifle that one of her interrogators had set down, thinking that Siddiqi was restrained, and shot at him. She was wounded when he returned fire and brought to the US for trial.

Siddiqi said that she was shot when she peered around a curtain in a bid to find a way out of the room where she was being held, and had not shot at anyone.

Pakistani public's view

Many Pakistanis believe that Siddiqi was picked up in the southern port city of Karachi in 2003 and detained at Bagram Airbase, a US facility in Afghanistan, where she was allegedly tortured.

“The Americans should be warned that their tactics and fake convictions will not intimidate us,” says Aaliya Shamim, a spokesperson of the women’s wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious political party.

Shamim on Thursday organized a protest that drew hundreds of women who called for Siddiqui’s release and decried US involvement in Pakistani affairs. “We can no longer sit quietly; every mother and sister will fight for justice against America,” she said.

Protests against Siddiqui’s alleged ill-treatment while in detention have been ongoing during her trial. Those who believe the trial has been politicized from the start saw Thursday’s public reaction as inevitable.

“Siddiqui’s family has been saying that this verdict was expected, implying that the US cannot be fair,” says Sana Saleem, a Karachi-based political blogger. “Aafia herself has been playing the political and religious card during her trial.”

On being convicted, Siddiqui claimed the verdict was prompted by Israel.

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