Two law enforcement officials told CNN that investigators believe the hostage-taker at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, may have been motivated by a desire to free Aafia Siddiqui, who was in prison. served a sentence of 86 years at a federal prison in Texas after being found guilty of attempting to murder Americans abroad.
Sources told CNN that the assessment was based on both discussion with the suspect and audio heard on the synagogue’s live stream.
More on Siddiqui: In 2010, Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years in prison by a New York federal judge after a 14-day trial. A grand jury found her guilty of knowingly killing US citizens and government employees, as well as assaulting US officers and employees.
According to a federal indictment, Siddiqui – a Pakistani scientist who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a doctorate from Brandeis University – was detained for questioning by the Afghan National Police in 2008, who said it had found handwritten notes that referred to the likely target of a “mass casualty attack.”
When a group of Americans tried to speak to her, prosecutors said she was able to grab the American soldier’s rifle and open fire on the interrogation team, although no one was hit. At the trial, one of the men in the room testified that she was “a vision of hatred,” according to court records.
In sentencing, the judge found that increased terrorism was applied to her crimes, citing statements she had made that the judge concluded represented her actions and intent to retaliate. against the US government, including “I Hate Americans” and “Death to America.”
Siddiqui’s defense argued that she was unfit to stand trial, but Siddiqui clashed repeatedly with her attorneys, telling the judge at sentencing, “If someone thinks that’s his paranoia me or whatever, I’m not paranoid. I am not mentally ill. I don’t agree with that.” She also stated her belief that Israel was “the mastermind of 9/11”.
Her conviction has been the subject of frequent protests in the United States and abroad. Regular protests have been organized by the Aafia Foundation, a group named after her. That group has claimed that she was assaulted in prison last year. Her family has said in interviews with CNN that she is not a terrorist. CNN has reached out to Siddiqui’s attorneys to respond to the hostage situation.
During the deadly 2013 hostage crisis in Algeria, a spokesman for a militant group offered to release the hostages if Siddiqui was released from a US prison, along with the mastermind behind the World Trade Center attack. in 1993, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who died in prison.
Siddiqui is currently being held in a federal prison medical facility in Fort Worth, with a release date set to be 60 years from now.