Supporters of Pakistani woman rally in Fort Worth

Posted Friday, Mar. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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FORT WORTH -- Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark was in Fort Worth on Friday to show support for a Pakistani woman who was arrested 10 years ago and is now incarcerated at Federal Medical Center Carswell in west Fort Worth.

Clark, attorney general from 1966 to 1969, was joined by about 30 other supporters of Aafia Siddiqui in Burnett Park outside the federal courthouse in downtown Fort Worth.

Clark, 85, said U.S. authorities have never said why they suspected Siddiqui of working with al Qaeda.

"No one has ever explained why she was arrested in the first place," Clark said. "It's unbelievable what's happening to her."

Supporters say Siddiqui came under suspicion after 9-11.

She returned to Pakistan in 2002 but disappeared 10 years ago today and spent the next few years in a "rendition operation," supporters say.

Supporters plan to observe the 10th anniversary by gathering outside Naval Air Station Fort Worth, the military base near the prison.

Siddiqui reportedly resurfaced in 2008 in Ghazni, Afghanistan, but was arrested again. Authorities say she was carrying bomb-making materials and recipes.

While in custody, she was accused of grabbing the carbine of a U.S. interrogator and trying to shoot servicemen -- an allegation she denied.

She was shot twice and recovered, then was convicted in February 2010 of attempted murder and assault.

In January, militants who had attacked a natural gas facility in Algeria offered to release hostages in exchange for Siddiqui and Omar Abdel-Rahman, the "blind sheik" who has been convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks.

The Obama administration rejected the offer outright.

Supporter Mauri Saalakhan of the Washington, D.C., area spoke at Friday's rally. He said that although Siddiqui was first arrested during the administration of President George W. Bush, she has gotten no sympathy from the current president.

"They say the same thing," Saalakhan said, "that she had her day in court and now the appeals process is playing out."

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "has been confronted repeatedly" about Siddiqui, he said.

"But she always gave the same padded statement," he said.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684

Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

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