A Pakistani scientist wanted by the United States for alleged ties to al-Qaida will appear in a federal courtroom in New York Tuesday to face charges she tried to kill U.S. military and civilian authorities in Afghanistan.
A federal prosecutor said late Monday that Aafia Siddiqui was arrested in Ghazni province in mid-July outside the provincial governor's compound. Authorities say she was carrying documents on how to make explosives. She also possessed descriptions of several U.S. landmarks, including landmarks in New York.
A team of FBI investigators and U.S. soldiers arrived the next day to interview her, unaware she was not under guard. Siddiqui allegedly grabbed a gun placed on the floor by one of the soldiers and fired two shots.
A soldier shot and wounded Siddiqui, who briefly struggled with the officers. None of the U.S. personnel was injured.
She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of two counts if convicted.
The 36-year-old Siddiqui was trained in the United States at Brandeis University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both located near Boston. She disappeared with her three children in 2003 while visiting her parents in the Pakistani city of Karachi. The FBI issued an alert at the time saying it wanted to interview her.
She was identified the next year by then Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller as one of several al-Qaida members wanted by the FBI. She was accused of assisting terrorist operatives sent to the U.S. by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Siddiqui's lawyer, her family and human rights group Amnesty International say the scientist has been held in a secret U.S. detention facility since her disappearance.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.