AQ "hit woman" most significant capture since 2003?

According to ABC News, the capture of Aifia Siddique gave American counterterrorism experts a “treasure trove” of information on al-Qaeda operations.  She could be the most significant figure captured in five years, according to one expert interviewed yesterday.  What did Siddique know — and is she really a master terrorist, or just a pawn used by an abusive husband?

When she was arrested in Afghanistan last month, Aafia Siddique allegedly had in her possession maps of New York, a list of potential targets that included the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the subway system and the animal disease center on Plum Island, detailed chemical, biological and radiological weapon information that has been seen only in a handful of terrorist cases, as well as a thumb drive packed with emails, ABC News has learned.

That haul of information has led multiple government sources to describe Siddique, a 36 year-old MIT graduate, as a potential “treasure trove” of information on terrorist supporters, sympathizers or ‘sleepers’ in the United States and overseas.


“She is the most significant capture in five years,” said former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who said she lives up to her reputation as an alleged terrorist ‘Mata Hari.’

Up to now, Siddique has had a coterie of supporters who accuse the US of unlawfully detaining her.  Some believe that the US had kept her incommunicado at Bagram for years.  The circumstances of her capture in July didn’t do much to alleviate those concerns, either.

However, she had a huge amount of information on her, which indicates recent AQ activity on a number of fronts.  It also suggests that the terrorists needed to move their resources around, perhaps under more pressure than commonly thought in the FATA areas along the Afghan border.  The best information comes from a thumb drive she carried with e-mails to a number of terrorist cells, showing coordination and planning.  She also had information suggesting an attack on Plum Island, a facility that researches diseases, which could have resulted in a horrific release of pathogens on the eastern seaboard if successful.

One has to wonder whether Siddique’s capture has any relation to the strange story coming out of Denver.  Homeland Security had previously warned that AQ would try to “hit America hard” during the political conventions:

 It has the makings of international intrigue. Less than two weeks before the Democratic National Convention a man has been found dead in a Denver hotel room with a container of what authorities initially suspect to be the deadly poison cyanide.

Adding to the intrigue is that the dead man, Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, 29, appears to be from outside the U.S. No passport was found on Dirie, who is believed to have entered the country from Canada.

A large container of a white powdery substance was found in the man’s room on the fourth floor of The Burnsley hotel at 10th and Grant.

Did Siddique’s thumb drive tip off authorities?  Or perhaps her widely-announced capture gave would-be terrorist second thoughts about their plans to attack the DNCC in Denver?  If Dirie was part of an AQ plot, it would almost have had to have Siddique in the loop, if the initial assessment of her role is accurate.

It could just be a coincidence, too.  However, the juxtaposition of Siddique’s capture and the potential for attack in Denver seems serendipitous.

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