NEW YORK – Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist whose trial on alleged murder charges begins next week, told a US court Thursday that she believed Israel was behind the Sept 11 terrorist attacks but insisted she’s not an anti-Semite.
That remark from Dr Siddiqui, 37, came when judge Richard Berman was quizzing potential jurors whether their 9/11 experiences would influence their deliberations.
“The next question will be on anti-Semitism, Israel was behind 9/11.
That’s not anti-Semitic,” she said, rising from her chair around the defence table. When a potential juror who cited her personal experience on Sept 11 was dismissed, Dr Siddiqui said, “I have nothing to do with 9/11.”
Ms Siddiqui’s trial for allegedly shooting at her US interrogators in Afghanistan last July begins in the Manhattan Federal Court on January 19. She’s not facing terrorism charges.
Ms Siddiqui was escorted out of the court room when she interrupted judge Berman who was questioning potential jurors. Berman later said that anyone who disrupts proceedings will be removed, but that Ms Siddiqui has a right to be present for her trial and would be allowed to return.
On Wednesday, Ms Siddiqui demanded that Jews should be excluded from the jury at her trial.
Ms Siddiqui has repeatedly said she is boycotting her own trial and has attempted to make her case directly to prospective jurors and the judge.
In the end the jury selection was completed. It consists of seven women and five men, with four alternate jurors, two men and two women.
Ms Siddiqui is accused of grabbing a US Army officer’s rifle during an interrogation in Afghanistan in July 2008 and exchanging gunfire with US soldiers and FBI agents. No American was hit, but she survived a gunshot wound to the stomach and was brought to the United States in August to face federal charges of attempted murder and assault.