Former PhD student mentioned in Foley note
Aafia Siddiqui Ph.D. ’01, who was suspected of having played a role in the execution and planning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, was mentioned in the Aug. 12 ransom note that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sent to American journalist James Foley’s family prior to beheading him. ISIS posted a video of the beheading to YouTube on Aug. 19, with a warning that the group would kill another American in captivity should America continue airstrikes in the region.
Siddiqui, who lived in the Boston area for several years, earned her bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1995 and received her doctorate from Brandeis in 2001, according to an Aug. 22 Boston Globe article. Siddiqui researched biology and neurology, the Associated Press reported in 2003.
The Boston Globe reported that Siddiqui immigrated to the United States as a teenager in 1990. She later had an arranged marriage. Her family lived in the Boston area until 2002, when she returned to Pakistan and divorced her husband. She went on to marry Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s nephew Ammar al-Baluchi. Mohammed is alleged as one of the leaders behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as most al-Qaida attacks between 1993 and 2003, according to a Dec. 16 CNN article.
After disappearing in 2003, Siddiqui was arrested by Afghan police five years later. The Globe reported that Siddiqui had been carrying poison and chemicals often used in making bombs and detailed plans for potential weapons. When American soldiers attempted to take custody of Siddiqui in 2008, she grabbed a rifle and fired at them. Siddiqui was found guilty of attempted murder and assault in 2010. Siddiqui is currently being held at the Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, the Globe reported.
In the note that Foley’s family released to the public, ISIS referred to Sidiqqi as its “sister,” and noted that ISIS had offered a prisoner exchange between Siddiqi and Foley, as Siddiqi is an individual in the United States’ “detention.” “[H]owever you proved very quickly to us that this is NOT what you are interested in,” the note read.
ISIS demanded 100 million euros, or about $132 million, in exchange for Foley. “You were given many chances to negotiate the release of your people via cash transactions as other governments have accepted,” the note read.
Foley was abducted in Syria on Nov. 22, 2012, the New York Times reported in an Aug. 20 article. He was a freelance journalist working for GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse. “You and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings!” the note read. “The first of which being the blood of the American citizen, James Foley!”