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Relatives of Wanted Alum Request Help

By Mac Daniel

THE BOSTON GLOBE

June 2, 2004

The family of Aafia Siddiqui ’95, an MIT and Brandeis-trained behavioral neurologist who is one of 12 suspects being sought for questioning by the FBI for alleged ties to terrorism, appealed to the media Tuesday to help locate the 33-year-old Pakistani citizen, who they suggest may be a victim of domestic abuse, not a suspected terrorist in hiding.

Last week, Siddiqui was the only woman among the list of suspects wanted by the FBI for questioning as part of the agency’s war on terrorism.

According to the lawyer representing Siddiqui’s family, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, Siddiqui was last seen in March 2003 getting into a cab in Islamabad with her three children to visit a relative. Her family has not seen or heard from her since, Sharp said.

A 1995 graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she organized Muslim students and raised funds to distribute the Koran in prisons, Siddiqui has been sought by Pakistan and U.S. authorities since March 2003, when alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed reportedly told U.S. interrogators that she was a key Al Qaeda figure.

“If Aafia Siddiqui is dead, the family wants to know it,” Sharp said at a press conference yesterday at the Omni Parker House. “If Aafia Siddiqui is alive, they want to know who’s got her and they want to know why, and they want to get to the bottom of this because the family ... does not believe that Aafia Siddiqui was involved in any nefarious or sinister activity connected to Al Qaeda or any other sadistic terrorist group.”

When her name and face were posted by the FBI last week, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III described Siddiqui as an “Al Qaeda operative and facilitator.”

She has been linked to opening a post office box in Maryland later used by terrorism operatives in the United States, Sharp said. But there was no evidence that Siddiqui opened the post office box “with the intent of aiding any terrorist activities,” Sharp said.

Siddiqui's love of the United States was so strong, according to Sharp, that her husband, former Brigham and Women’s Hospital anesthesiologist Mohammed Khan, divorced her over their differences about how their three children would be raised.

“She wanted them to grow up here,” said Sharp. “She wanted them to embrace a Western way of life within the Islamic context.”

Gail Marcinkiewicz, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Boston office, said yesterday she could not confirm that the agency had spoken with Siddiqui. The agency has spoken with her former husband, who has been marked as “located” on the FBI’s Web site.