Following the hostage situation in Texas in which an FBI team shot a man dead, Pakistan has come under the terror scanner once again. An attacker took hostages at a synagogue and demanded the release of imprisoned Pakistani terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, also known as ‘Lady al-Qaeda’. She is serving an 86-year sentence on charges related to terrorism.
Islamabad has repeatedly demanded from US to release Siddiqui, who is well known in Pakistan and in extremist circles there and is currently incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell. The FBI said the attacker identified as Malik Akram, a British national, was responsible for the incident at the Texas synagogue, which has been declared a terror incident.
”British national, Malik Akram was responsible for Texas synagogue incident that is termed as a terror incident. Malik, now dead, wanted the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist currently in a US jail,” the FBI stated.
Additionally, an analysis by the American Enterprise Institute also called out the “deep-rooted terrorism in Pakistan”. The analysis specifically stated that the Pakistani president, PM and foreign minister too urged the United States to free her. Furthermore, it said that terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda or the Islamic State (IS) are filled with citizens of other countries whose governments have denounced them.
However, Aafia Siddiqui is different because even top Pakistani government officials support her and treat her like a “hero”. It should be noted that the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gilani, called her the “daughter of the nation” and promised to campaign for her release from the prison. The analysis also revealed that many in Pakistan would now celebrate her “brother” or at least excuse his actions.
Texas Synagogue Hostage Case
A lone gunman attacked the synagogue while the Shabbat morning service was being broadcast on a Facebook live video. Part of the incident was captured on the livestream but was quickly removed from social media. The attacker reportedly took the name of Pakistani terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, also known as “Lady al-Qaeda”.
First, the gunman carrying explosives and an automatic weapon took four people hostage, including the synagogue’s rabbi. However, the attacker released one hostage unharmed six hours later. The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team stormed the synagogue and freed the other three hostages.
In exchange for the hostages, the gunman demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted in 2010 by a New York City federal court of attempting to assassinate a US military officer. Siddiqui is currently serving an 86-year jail term at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, Texas.