"Lady al-Qaida" Takes the Stand in Her Attempted Murder Trial

Defense wanted Aafia Siddiqui banned due to "diminished capacity"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Aafia Siddiqui wants to testify in her own defense, but her lawyers don't think it's a good idea.

    A U.S.-trained Pakistani scientist being tried on charges she tried to kill American personnel in Afghanistan testified without the jury present Thursday that she was "dizzy all the time'' from multiple gunshot wounds when first questioned by the FBI in 2008.

         Aafia Siddiqui, 37, took the stand over the objections of her defense lawyers as U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman sought to decide whether prosecutors could question her about incriminating statements she allegedly made to FBI agents.
        
    Berman told Siddiqui she had a right to testify despite insistence by her lawyers that she should be prevented from incriminating herself because of her "diminished capacity.''
        
    Asked by Berman if she wanted to testify, Siddiqui said, "Yes sir.''
        
    Siddiqui was shot by a U.S. Army officer during an encounter at an Afghan police station. Sitting on the witness stand without the jury present, Siddiqui was asked about her condition when FBI agents questioned her in a Bagram hospital.
        
    "I was dizzy all the time pretty much and my head hurt tremendously and my back hurt. I also had congestion in my chest,'' she said.
        
    Later at Bagram, she said she offered to "assist the FBI in ending the war in Afghanistan,'' though she said she did not know that people asking her questions were FBI agents.
        
    Witnesses have testified that Siddiqui was about to be interrogated by FBI agents and American soldiers at the police station on July 18, 2008, when she picked up an unattended U.S. military assault rifle and fired two rounds. She missed and was wounded by return fire. She denies firing the weapon.
        
    Prosecutors say the interrogation was scheduled a day after Siddiqui was caught by Afghan police outside a governor's building carrying bomb-making instructions and a list of New York City landmarks including the Statue of Liberty.
        
    Siddiqui said Thursday that she was worried about her three children as she recovered in the hospital.
        
    "I was concerned about my children and their safety. ... That's what was on my mind,'' she said.
        
    She said she felt intruded upon by a male FBI agent who subjected her to "pure psychological torture'' by seeming to watch as she underwent delicate treatment for her abdominal wounds and by saying bad things about her to hospital staff.
        
    She said a female FBI agent seemed nice.
        
    "I consider everybody a nice person unless they give me a reason to think otherwise,'' she said. "I still think she's a nice person.''
        
    Siddiqui then told a female prosecutor posing questions: "I think you're a nice person too.''