Women Politicals of the American Empire and the Plight of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in Context
The climate of fear existing in America, along with ‘terrorism’ charges needing no habeus corpus or rules of evidence, mean no justice and no sanity for Muslim women caught by the US ‘justice’ system, writes LINDA FORD.
There have been many women dissenters who have been jailed by the American government as political prisoners. There are women in jail now who are undergoing punishment as perceived enemies of the American Empire. Two such women are nuclear resister Elizabeth McAlister and alleged “terrorist” Aafia Siddiqui.
When I wrote about Pakistani-born Aafia Siddiqui as one of the “women politicals (not) in the news” eight years ago, she had just begun her 86-year sentence at Carswell Federal Prison in Texas for allegedly assaulting US soldiers of the Empire in Afghanistan. Now 46, she recently appealed to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for help: “I want to get out of prison; my imprisonment in the US is illegal as I was kidnapped and taken to the US…”
Dr. Siddiqui was accused of being a would-be assassin and an Al Qaeda terrorist. But she was the one who was grievously wounded in the stomach. She was the one whose youngest child was killed when she was taken, “disappeared” in Pakistan, and her other two children imprisoned separately for years.
She was the one who was beaten, raped, tortured and kept in solitary in black site prisons of the American Empire. Her “crime” was being a doctor in Boston who was a Muslim activist, and who, through a series of unfortunate and skewed connections, ended up on Attorney General Ashcroft’s “watchlist.” For her “crime,” she had to endure the consequences of an extreme anti-“terrorist”/anti-Muslim era which began with the September 11, 2001 bombings.
Crimes against Muslims globally, and immediate repression of Muslims within the US, although not starting then, greatly intensified after 9/11. The FBI, in its zeal to root out Arab “terrorists,” has been involved in questionable activities which fly in the face of civil rights or constitutional law. We’ve seen the use of the grand jury as bullying tactic, wholesale surveillance, sweeps to arrest dissenters, and entrapment to create “terrorists” when real ones do not exist.
Pro-Palestinian activists have been victimized, along with young Muslim women who have been candidates for entrapment. In 2013, RasmeaOdeh, Deputy Executive Director of the Arab-American Network, was indicted by the US government for “immigration fraud” when she applied for citizenship.
Although the State Department was well aware of the circumstances of her moving to the US, Israel Lobbyists worked to get her arrested. Caught in a “security sweep” in Israel in 1969, she was, although innocent, imprisoned for a supermarket bombing.
During her ten years in Israel’s jails, she was tortured and raped. After coming to the US in 1994, she became an activist for Arab-American women, and found herself jailed again. She was deported in September of 2017. In 2015, Asia Siddiqui and Noelle Velentzas were arrested in NYC by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and charged with conspiracy to “use a weapon of mass destruction.”
They were skillfully entrapped by an FBI informant, never planning or even thinking about bombings until the agent suggested they should. They await their trial. The climate of fear existing in America, along with “terrorism” charges needing no habeus corpus or rules of evidence, mean no justice and no sanity for Muslim women caught by the US “justice” system.
As a ‘terrorist’ enemy of the Empire and its soldiers, Aafia Siddiqui had no chance at all. She was mistakenly accused initially. She was “disappeared” in Pakistan by helpful agents, and when her true story began to emerge, she was put in black site prisons, beaten and tortured. When she was finally put on trial, she was a broken woman, and had only to be disposed off by a kangaroo court—sentenced to 86 years at Carswell.
She has been visited by Pakistan’s Consul General in Houston, who has complained to the US Justice Department about Siddiqui’s continued brutal treatment. She says Siddiqui suffers “immense physical and sexual torment.” Pakistani and American authorities all say they are looking into the matter, but nothing has happened. One Pakistani official’s statement was that the US treats its prisoners “humanely and in a manner that complies with our human rights obligations.” Indeed.
The Empire applies its “humane” treatment to more than its accused Muslim “terrorists.” Women of the anti-nuclear Plowshares movement, who bear witness against weapons threatening potential annihilation of the planet, are also considered “terrorist” threats.
Elizabeth McAlister, former nun and widow of anti-nuclear activist Philip Berrigan, at age 73, is in jail in Georgia for her part in an anti-nuclear action: Kings Bay (GA) Plowshares, carried out on April 4, 2018. Seven stalwarts, three of whom were women—McAlister, Martha Hennesy of NYC and Clare Grady of Ithaca—entered the naval base which houses Trident submarines armed with nuclear warheads. They were there to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. Their banners included King’s “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide.” They smeared the base’s logo with human blood.
And they carried with them indictments of the US government, President Trump and the base commander Brian Lepine, for war crimes. They were charged with the felonies of conspiracy and destruction of government property. Clare Grady and Elizabeth McAlister were jailed, and McAlister remains in jail today.
According to nukeresister.com, McAlister is in prison to fight the Empire: “We resist militarism that has employed deadly violence to enforce global domination. . . The weapons from one Trident have the capacity to end life as we know it on planet Earth.” Such activists provide way too much transparency for the American Empire.
[Courtesy: https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/01/10/women-politicals-of-the-american-empire/; Abridgement: YMD]
Linda Ford is a retired history professor, living in Madison NY. She is the author of Iron-Jawed Angels: The Suffrage Militancy of the National Woman’s Party, and is currently finishing her new book, Women Politicals: From Mother Jones to Lynne Stewart.