Published January 13, 2015
A U.S.-educated Pakistani woman was carrying handwritten notes referring to a "mass casualty attack" and listing the Empire State Building and other New York landmarks when she was detained in Afghanistan, prosecutors said Tuesday.
In an attempted-murder indictment unsealed in federal court in Manhattan, prosecutors for the first time publicly named some of the landmarks. The others: the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge and Plum Island, a disease research complex in Long Island Sound.
Aafia Siddiqui had notes "that referred to a 'mass casualty attack"' and to "the construction of dirty bombs, chemical and biological weapons and other explosives," the indictment said. "These notes also discussed the mortality rates associated with certain of these weapons and explosives."
Other documents "referred to specific 'cells' and 'attacks' by certain 'cells' ... and discussed recruitment and training," the papers said.
Siddiqui, who has a biology degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was to be arraigned Wednesday on charges that she tried to assault and kill Army officers and FBI agents during an interrogation following her detention in July. The indictment alleges she picked up a soldier's rifle, announced her "desire to kill Americans" and fired the rifle but missed. She was wounded by return fire.
Defense attorney Elizabeth Fink declined Tuesday to comment on the indictment. Her client previously denied the charges.
Authorities had earlier identified Siddiqui as an al-Qaida associate who may have helped potential terrorists enter the United States before vanishing in Pakistan in 2003. Her supporters maintain she was kidnapped and held in U.S. custody before mysteriously surfacing this summer in Afghanistan.
The indictment contains no charges of terrorism. A government official briefed on the case has told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that the landmarks were a "wish list" of potential targets but that there was no evidence of a credible plot.
If convicted, Siddiqui, 36, faces up to 20 years in prison.