|..:: Hot News:|
Tuesday, 09.28.2010, 01:03am (GMT)
By Ben Farmer, Kabul
Courtesy: Daily Telegraph
A local Taliban commander named Mohammad Osman said he had kidnapped the woman and her Afghan colleagues in Kunar province on Sunday.
He told an Afghan press agency with close ties to the Taliban that he was demanding an exchange for Aafia Siddiqui.
Siddiqui, a 38-year-old neuroscientist, was jailed last week by a New York court for 86 years for the attempted murder of US agents and soldiers who were trying to interrogate her in Afghanistan.
Mohammad Osman told the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP), based in Peshawar in northeastern Pakistan: “We are lucky that we abducted this British woman soon after the ruthless ruling by an American court on Aafia Siddiqui
“We will demand the release of Aafia Siddiqui in exchange for her.”
British government policy is never to pay ransoms to kidnappers, but London and Washington are in contact over the report.
The AIP frequently carries interviews and statements from senior insurgent figures and is considered to be have close links to the Taliban.
The British embassy in Kabul would not discuss the credibility of the report or demand. A spokeswoman said: “We do not discuss operational details.”
The Foreign Office and the family of the kidnapped woman have asked the press not to name her. She was working for the aid contractor Development Alternatives Inc, on a project paid for by the American government.
She was kidnapped with three Afghan colleagues on Sunday morning as she drove in a two-car convoy from the provincial capital of Asadabad to Jalalabad.
Siddiqui’s sentence provoked anger in Pakistan, where thousands took to the streets demanding her release.
Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister, called on America to repatriate a “daughter of the nation” to improve its image in Pakistan.
The Taliban commander said Siddiqui was a sister to all Muslims.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology-educated scientist and mother-of-three was convicted of opening fire on her interrogators after grabbing a weapon while she was in custody in Afghanistan in 2008.
Prosecutors said she had been arrested in Ghazni that year carrying details of prominent American monuments and bomb-making notes.
Her supporters contend she had been kept for years in a secret prison before her arrest and badly treated in custody.
Defence lawyers said her gun attack, in which she failed to hit any one, was a spontaneous "freak out," born of mental illness.