US trained Pakistani scientist sentenced to 86 years in prison

The AP reports that Aafia Siddiqui, a US trained Pakistani scientist convicted of attempting to kill U.S. military officers in Afghanistan was sentenced on Thursday to 86 years in prison. The AP reports that more than two years ago, Siddiqui had turned up in Afghanistan carrying notes that referenced a "mass casualty attack" on New York City landmarks and a supply of sodium cyanide. At trial, jurors heard eyewitness testimony describing how Siddiqui grabbed a rifle and attempted to shoot U.S. authorities after she was detained by Afghan police. Siddiqui vehemently denied charges that she purposely shot at soldiers. Prosecutors argued for a life sentence, saying that her crimes were both premeditated and intended to harm Americans. Meanwhile outside the courthouse, a New York-based human rights group held a protest condemning the sentence imposed by US District Judge Richard Berman as "unfair and unjust." A statement released by the International Justice Network, attorneys for Siddiqui's family further stated, "This sentence is not only unjust because of its harshness to Dr. Siddiqui -- but also because of its impact on her two small children in Pakistan who may never see their mother again." The AP reports that Justice Berman called Siddiqui an "enigma," and began sentencing by noting her history, including the fact that she was educated in the U.S. at MIT and Brandeis University. She returned to Pakistan in 2003 and married a purported al-Qaida operative, a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.