I have provided you with four separate articles that detail the background and charges for which a Pakistani woman by the name of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is about to stand trial in lower Manhattan later today, Tuesday, January 19. 2010.
With all of the talk about the decision by the administration to put some of the Guantanamo detainees on trial in criminal court in lower Manhattan, this story suddenly emerged on the radar scope concerning Dr. Siddiqui who has been linked to al-Qaeda will be standing trial beginning today, the very same courthouse in lower Manhattan.
The story of this defendant should make it clear that there is a very real potential that terrorists are, no doubt, living, studying and working among us, hiding in plain sight as they go about their nefarious plans to attack our nation or the citizens of other nations.
The four articles I have provided you with include a press release that was issued on September 2, 2008 by the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York- whose offices are located in lower Manhattan, midway between One Police Plaza (Headquarters for the New York City Police Department) and City Hall. The press release succinctly explains the crimes for which she is standing trial.
Another article that goes back to the Bush administration and was originally written in October, 2004 provides fairly extensive background information about the defendant but seems to attempt to paint a more sympathetic picture about this woman who, on July 18, 2008 in Ghazni, Afghanistan is alleged to have grabbed an M-4 rifle and attempted to murder a number of U.S. officials who were questioning her, including an army officer, an FBI special agent and others.
What is particularly disturbing about the background of the defendant is the fact that she had received an extensive education at a number of premier universities in the United States including Brandeis University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in high- tech biological sciences and, in fact, now has a Ph.D. inasmuch as she completed her course of studies in biology. The education and training she received in the United States may well have enhanced her abilities to attack our nation.
One of the ironies is that she studied at Brandeis University. Here is a passage from the school magazine that discusses the background of Brandeis University:
http://www.brandeis.edu/about/defining.html Defining Brandeis Characterized by academic excellence since its founding in 1948, Brandeis is one of the youngest private research universities, as well as the only nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored college or university in the country.
Named for the late Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court, Brandeis University combines the faculty and resources of a world-class research institution with the intimacy and personal attention of a small liberal arts college.
For students, that means unsurpassed access – both in and out of the classroom – to a faculty renowned for groundbreaking research, scholarship and artistic output. At Brandeis, professors bring newly minted knowledge straight from the field or lab to the graduate and undergraduate classrooms.
Brandeis supports an innovative and exciting program of learning that emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge and the solution of real-life problems. Undergraduates, from the very first year, enjoy leadership positions and research opportunities typically available only to upper-class and graduate students.
Located in Waltham, Mass., on 235 attractive suburban acres, Brandeis is in an ideal location just nine miles west of Boston.
Brandeis is ranked in the top tier of the nation’s universities. Our graduates depart to pursue careers in a wide array of fields, and advanced studies in the nation’s leading graduate and professional schools.
Siddiqui enhanced her education and training at a school that is described as a nonsectarian Jewish sponsored research university, all the while apparently harboring such flagrant anti-semitic hatred for all Americans and most of all, Jews!
This woman is the textbook example of a “sleeper” agent. The Boston Magazine article makes a point of quoting those who knew her and described her in the most innocuous terms imaginable.
Here are some of these descriptive out-takes:
“She just seemed like a very kind person.”
“She was just nice and soft- spoken,”
“To those who knew her, Aafia Siddiqui was a kind, quiet woman living the normal life of a Pakistani expat in Boston.”
“She was also a person whose life was rapidly changing. DiZio recalls asking Siddiqui what she would do after earning her Ph.D. “She said something about how she had commitments to her children and her family, and that this is the way it was,” he says. Somehow, Siddiqui’s plan for a career outside the home had been lost.”
The point is that as I have noted on ever so many occasions, it has been stated that an effective spy has been described as being a person who would not attract the attention of a waiter or waitress at a “greasy spoon” diner and the same can be said of an effective terrorist. Indeed, it may well be that a spy or terrorist is actually working as a waiter or waitress awaiting the phone call or other communication calling them into action.
As the Boston Magazine article also notes, it is alleged that Siddiqui had committed crimes involving the illegal diamond trade involving so- called “blood diamonds” apparently as a way of engaging in fund raising for terrorist organizations. The article also details ways in which she attempted to win converts to Islam and make arrangements in the United States for al-Qaeda operatives arriving in the United States.
All the while presenting those she interacted with in the United States with the appearance of a quiet, pleasant neighbor- in short, managing to hide in plain sight or, in the parlance of the 9/11 Commission- embedding herself in the United States.
On Christmas Day this past year, an attempt was made by al-Qaeda to reduce a crowded Delta Airlines airliner into smoldering wreckage as it prepared to land in Detroit. Again it was the same old story- failure to connect the dots even though many of the pieces of the puzzle had been discovered.
The major piece of the puzzle that is being all but ignored is the failure to understand just how critical it is to exercise real caution where the issuance of visas that permit aliens to seek entry into our country is concerned.
Time and again we become aware of terrorists and others who certainly do not have the best interests of our nation or our citizens in their hearts being provided with a key to America’s front door that a visa represents. An alien seeking into our country is no different from a stranger seeking entry into our homes. The responsible homeowner or apartment dweller generally shows better judgment than does our government in determining who should be permitted to enter.
I have often quoted my parents and the advice they provided me when I was a young boy growing up in Brooklyn. I will never forget my dad telling me that I must never throw the first punch but that I must make dam certain I would throw the last punch in a fight. Furthermore he told me that if someone ever threw a punch at me I must never, ever again walk past that person with my hands in my pockets!
Finally, my dad also used to say that “In life there are no mistakes- only lessons if we learn from those things that go wrong. On the other hand, it is unacceptable and inexcusable to make the same mistake again and again!”
No one could argue with the pragmatic wisdom of my dad’s advice, indeed, it is advice that the United States would do well to take. Our nation has suffered attacks abroad and within our borders. Other attacks have been averted, either by the efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence officials or by dumb luck- as was the case just 3 weeks ago in the skies over Detroit.
As I have noted in a previous commentary- if “Hope is not a strategy” then “Dumb luck is not a success!”
The need cannot be overstated for our leaders- both in the administration and within both houses of Congress to study each and every terrorist attack and attempted attack to piece together the terrorists “play book.” This is important not only to figure out what they have done in the past but to attempt to predict and identify other vulnerabilities that must be addressed for the security of our nation and our citizens.
The trial that begins today focuses on a woman who allegedly committed her attack outside the United States- but it is important to remember that for years she lived, studied and worked among us, here inside the United States with the tacit blessing of the State Department who issued her a visa and the immigration inspectors at U.S. ports of entry who admitted her into the United States.
Perhaps there was no way for the officials of these agencies to have known what she was up to, or perhaps not enough was done to screen her application for the visa that enabled her to enter the United States. The time has come for a thorough analysis to be conducted to determine if the visa issuing process failed to pick up on indicators that might have prevented her from receiving that visa that allowed her to stroll through America’s “front door” on a number of occasions.
My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nation’s many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.
The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.
Any politician who refuses to work to secure our borders and create an immigration system that has integrity is either corrupt or too dumb to keep his (her) job. Any politician, irrespective of party affiliation who favors Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the outrageous betrayal that this would represent given the national security implications that this program would have, should be shown the door at the next election!
If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.
Later this year, each and every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. Later this year more than one third of the members of the United States Senate will have to face their constituents. They need to be reminded that they work for us, We the People!
However, the practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there. The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!
The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians. I implore you to get involved!
Any American who has lost his job certainly has enough time on his (her) hands to get involved!
Any American who fears the loss of his job must make effective use of his spare time to make certain he keeps his job! (Remember, the job save may be your own!) If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! You need to politely but pointedly, demand to know what they are doing to protect our nation. You need to ask them how they are protecting you and your families. You can also forward this commentary to them and ask them to watch the 60 Minutes report that served as the basis for my commentary. All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are! We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue! You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem! Democracy is not a spectator sport! Lead, follow or get out of the way!
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui goes on trial today
Aafia Siddiqui Indicted for Attempting to Kill United States Nationals in Afghanistan and Six Additional Charges
Who’s Afraid of Aafia Siddiqui? By Katherine Ozment, published in Boston magazine