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Texas hostage situation brings focus back on Al Qaeda

Demand for release of Pakistan-born neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui also called Lady Al Qaeda from US prison has been a common cause for pan-Islamic groups in Af-Pak region and the Levant.
People rally demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted in February 2010 of two counts of attempted murder, and who is currently being detained in the U.S. during International Women's Day in Karachi, Pakistan, (AP)
Published on Jan 16, 2022 06:58 PM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The hostage situation at a synagogue in Texas was resolved on Saturday night with the release of four hostages and the death of the hostage-taker, but the demand of the suspect has raised brought back global jihad on the agenda. The hostage-taker claimed to be the brother of Pakistan born convicted neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui and demanded that she be released from Texas Federal prison, where she is serving an 86 year sentence for attempting to murder US soldiers in Afghanistan in 2010.  The identity of the dead hostage-taker has not been revealed.

Karachi-born Siddiqui is a cause celebre of the terrorist world with pan-Islamic groups like Al Qaeda and Islamic State have sought her release and US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff were beheaded by Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi’s fanatics in revenge.

Known as Lady Al Qaeda, Siddiqui was married to the nephew of the 9/11 prime accused and Pakistan national Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. For the past 15 years, pan-Islamic jihadist groups have made attempts to secure the release of Siddiqui, who attended MIT and earned a doctorate from Brandies University.

The Texas hostage situation clearly shows that Al Qaeda is alive and kicking despite all the statements to the contrary by the Biden administration and the US intelligence. The fact is that Indian Mujahideen co-founder and Pakistan based Riyaz Bhatkal, as per NIA chargesheet on Yasin Bhatkal, had met Al Qaeda operatives in 2013. Yasin Bhatkal, who was picked up by Intelligence Bureau from Nepal in August 2013, told his interrogators that Riyaz had told him to kidnap jews from Pushkar mela in Rajasthan and demand the release of Aafia Siddiqui.

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Interrogation of Yasin Bhatkal also revealed that Riyaz had tried to forge an alliance with Al Qaeda to target India with terror strikes. The Indian Mujahideen group was forged by Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) as part of Karachi Project to provide deniability to Islamabad for terror attacks in India as well as create the impression that there was home grown terrorism in India. The details about the Karachi project were disclosed by Pakistan born US national David Coleman Headley, who conducted the reconnaissance for the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai with LeT providing the gunman and ISI providing the military training and operational support. While the public memory is short, the Texas incident shows that Al Qaeda with its base in Pakistan and Afghanistan is back with its jihad agenda.

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