NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Pakistani woman suspected of links to al Qaeda who is charged with trying to kill American interrogators in Afghanistan must undergo a psychiatric evaluation and hearing, a U.S. judge ordered on Wednesday.
Aafia Siddiqui, 36, will undergo a month-long medical assessment, treatment and psychological examination before a special competency hearing to determine if she is “medically fit and mentally competent” to stand trial, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ordered.
The U.S.-trained neuroscientist was shot in the abdomen by an officer after allegedly grabbing a U.S. soldier’s gun during questioning in July and was brought to the United States to face charges of attempted murder and assault.
But her arraignment has been delayed after she refused to submit to a strip search and prosecutors argued the now frail-looking Siddiqui, who has also refused to cooperate with prison doctors, is suffering from a mental disease and is unfit to stand trial.
The federal indictment says Siddiqui, while detained for questioning in Afghanistan, grabbed a U.S. warrant officer’s rifle and fired it at the interrogation team, which included two FBI agents in the room. The warrant officer then shot her with his pistol.
It is unclear how Siddiqui came to be in Afghanistan. U.S. officials say police found documents in her handbag on making explosives, excerpts from the book “Anarchist’s Arsenal” and descriptions of New York City landmarks.
Her lawyers say she may be a victim of torture and believe she was kidnapped with her children in March 2003 in Karachi, Pakistan and secretly held in custody for the past five years by either Pakistani or U.S. authorities.
The hearing was scheduled for December 17 in Manhattan federal court.
Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman