Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pakistan: Update--Kidnappers of Two Czech Tourists Demand Release of Terrorist Held in US Prison

According to Reuters, the kidnappers of two Czech tourists, Antonie Chrastecka and Hana Humpalova, both 24, who were kidnapped in Pakistan on March 13, 2013, have demanded that Aafia Siddiqui, a neuro-scientist who was given an 86-year sentence by a US court in 2010 for shooting at FBI agents and soldiers in Afghanistan be released. 

Dr. Siddiqui emigrated to the US in 1990 and obtained a PhD in 2001 from Brandeis University. In early 2003, Siddiqui returned to Pakistan. In March 2003, she was named as a courier and financier for al-Qaeda by Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and was placed on a "wanted for questioning" list by the FBI. She subsequently disappeared until she was arrested in Ghazni, Afghanistan, with documents and notes for making bombs plus containers of sodium cyanide. 

Siddiqui was indicted in New York City District Court in September 2008 on charges of attempted murder and assault stemming from an incident in an interview with US authorities in Ghazni, charges which Siddiqui denied. After 18 months in detention, she was tried and convicted in early 2010 and sentenced to 86 years in prison. 

COMMENT: The Czech Foreign Ministry said it has seen the video-tape and is analyzing it.

Czech television station TV NOVA said it was given the video by a person calling herself Orna Moshe.

The two Czech women were kidnapped in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, near the Afghan border. There has been no news on their fate since they disappeared and no group claimed responsibility for the abduction.

Considering Dr. Siddiqui's conviction, her young age, and her having worked for Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, it is very, very doubtful that the US Government would have any interest or benefit in releasing Siddiqui in exchange for the two Czech tourists, the latter of whom were abducted largely because they were traveling through high-risk sections of Iran and Pakistan on their way to India.  

As I have said so many times in the past, NO place in Pakistan is a prudent place for foreigners of any nationality, given the significant risks of being kidnapped and/or killed. 

Please see my posting of June 24 re: the robbery and execution of ten foreigners at the base camp of Nanga Parbat.