The trial of al Qaeda terrorists in federal court will undoubtedly give us many moments like those afforded by the trial of “Lady al Qaeda” (Aafia Siddiqui). From the opening of Siddiqui’s trial came the New York Daily News report “Lady al Qaeda cries foul: Accused terrorist Aafia Siddiqui says toss Jews from jury pool.” Lady al Qaeda was not only concerned about the jury pool; she also had a bad feeling about Judge Richard Berman.
The New York Times reports that Lady al Qaeda was ejected from the courtroom — not once, but twice — on Monday for loudly proclaiming her innocence. At least one of Siddiqui’s courtroom supporters is also problematic. The Times adds that In a separate episode between Siddiqui’s two ejections, a spectator who pointed his thumb and index finger like a gun at the jury while mouthing an expletive was taken into custody and later released. The Daily News has more here.
Judge Berman later dismissed two jurors who said they felt threatened. “They were visibly upset,” a court official said, as well they should have been.
What is the case of Lady al Qaeda doing in federal court in New York City? The Guardian notes that in May 2004 the Department of Justice listed her among the seven “most wanted” al Qaeda fugitives. She was arrested by Afghan police after being caught in July 2008 with two pounds of sodium cyanide, a list of New York targets, and instructions for chemical and biological weapons. When an American team tried to question her in a police headquarters building, she grabbed an unsecured M-4 rifle and opened fire on Army officers and FBI agents. She appears to be an enemy combatant whose case belongs before a military commission rather than in federal court.
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