Al-Qaida Suspect Returns to Court After Being Ousted for Name-Calling

By TOM HAYS
|  Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010  |  Updated 12:45 PM EDT
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Al-Qaida Suspect Returns to Court After Being Ousted for Name-Calling

AP

A U.S.-trained Pakistani scientist accused of shooting at U.S. authorities trying to interview her in Afghanistan returned to court Wednesday after getting kicked out of her own trial a day earlier for calling a witness a liar.

Aafia Siddiqui, 37, wearing white, draped herself over the defense table as she had in the past. U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman warned her that he wanted no more outbursts.

"I'm going to be quiet," she said. "It doesn't mean I agree."

Prosecutors allege Siddiqui, while detained in a tiny room full of Afghan and U.S. personnel on July 18, 2008, grabbed a chief warrant officer's unattended assault rifle and shot at them before she suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach. The reputed al-Qaida supporter has vehemently denied any wrongdoing often in courtroom tirades.

One outburst followed testimony by an Army captain that Afghan police discovered in Siddiqui's purse handwritten notes mentioning a massive attack and listing landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Wall Street.

"I was never planning a bombing! You're lying!" the 37-year-old Siddiqui yelled as she was rushed out of court on Tuesday, the first day of trial.

Snyder testified he was seated in a 300-square-foot room when he looked toward a yellow curtain and saw a woman kneeling on a bed and pointing the rifle.

"I could see the inner portion of the barrel, which indicated to me it was pointing straight at my head," he said.

He said he jumped from his seat, heard the rifle go off more than once and rushed for the door, the last to escape the room. He said he returned seconds later to see an interpreter for the Army struggling to subdue Siddiqui. After that, prosecutors say, the chief warrant officer shot her with a pistol.

A second government witness who was in the room, FBI agent John Jefferson, testified Wednesday that he heard Siddiqui yelling, "I'm going to kill all you Americans." He said he surprised it was in "perfect English."

The witnesses said once the shooting stopped, about Afghan security personnel some wielding rifles and looking angry began swarming as about 15 U.S. authorities tried to carry away a still-kicking Siddiqui on a stretcher outside the police station.

"We were pretty much in a standoff," Jefferson said. He said they pushed past the men and loaded Siddiqui onto a Humvee.

Snyder said he later "compared notes" with the chief warrant officer and was surprised by his attitude.

The soldier "felt he had saved the day," the captain said. "He had returned fire, so to speak. ... I felt that some of the actions or inactions he took contributed to the situation."

Synder credited the interpreter who first lunged at Siddiqui with being the real hero.

"I expressed my overwhelming gratitude for what he did," he said.

Besides the defendant, no one was seriously injured.

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