The Council on American Islamic Relations denied any connection between the terror attack at a Texas synagogue and its campaign to free imprisoned terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, one day after a fanatical gunman took Jewish congregants hostage to demand Siddiqui’s release.
CAIR has been a longtime advocate for clemency for Siddiqui, a terror operative who was dubbed "Lady al Qaeda" and sentenced to 86 years in prison in 2010 for trying to gun down U.S. FBI and military officials. During a joint press conference with Siddiqui’s attorney on Sunday, CAIR’s Dallas director Faizan Syed said it had no prior relationship to the the assailant, British national Malik Faisal Akram, and that his actions should not detract from efforts to seek clemency for Siddiqui.
Syed and Siddiqui's attorney, Marwa Elbially, were pressed by reporters on anti-Semitic remarks by Siddiqui that could lead her supporters to attack a synagogue. During her 2010 trial, for example, she demanded that jurors undergo DNA tests to ensure there were no Jews on her jury. In a letter to President Barack Obama from prison after the trial, Siddiqui wrote that Jewish people have "always back-stabbed everyone who has taken pity on them and made the 'fatal' error of giving them shelter." The letter said "this why 'holocausts' keep happening to them."
Elbially acknowledged the anti-Semitism, but suggested Siddiqui was suffering from mental illness during her trial due to alleged abuse Siddiqui was subjected to in CIA custody. When asked by the Washington Free Beacon if Siddiqui had ever renounced or apologized for her anti-Semitic views since 2010, CAIR and Elbially declined to answer affirmatively.
Elbially told the Free Beacon that "nothing excuses anti-Semitic statements," but said Siddiqui "was in a diminished state both physically and mentally when she stood trial."
Syed also excused the anti-Semitic comments by saying they were made after Siddiqui was "put into [CIA] black sites," which "had a serious emotional and mental toll."
Siddiqui, who is serving her sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, "does not want any violence to be done in her name. She has been stating that since the very beginning and she continues to state that to this day," Syed said during the press conference. Syed said Akram’s decision to attack the synagogue in Colleyville, near Fort Worth, was likely driven by "potential mental illness."
The man was killed during the 10-hour standoff with authorities, and the hostages were rescued unharmed.