FBI seeks to question former MIT student

By Ralph Ranalli, Globe Staff, 3/20/2003

An award-winning former MIT student, apparently involved in organizing Muslim student groups, and a fellow Pakistani national are being sought for questioning by the FBI on terrorism-related matters, FBI officials said yesterday. Photographs of former MIT student Aafia Siddiqui and Dr. Mohammed Kahn were posted on the FBI's national website recently, with a request that anyone with information about their whereabouts call the Boston FBI office.

The FBI site stressed that the agency ''has no information indicating this individual is connected to specific terrorist activities.'' It said the bureau ''would like to locate and question this individual.''

According to the site, the 31-year-old Siddiqui is believed to be in Pakistan.

Little could be learned yesterday about Kahn, 33, but officials confirmed that Aafia Siddiqui received a biology degree from MIT in 1994.

Ken Campbell, MIT spokesman, said that university records show that Siddiqui lived in an on-campus dorm in 1995 and listed her home address as Karachi.

''She may have done something postgraduate,'' Campbell said. Records were unavailable yesterday.

According to the MIT website, in 1992 Siddiqui received a $5,000 Carroll L. Wilson Award, given to top students for research opportunities abroad for up to six weeks. Her proposed topic of study was ''Islamization in Pakistan and its Effects on Women.''

An Islamic student Internet site features articles listed as ''posted by'' Siddiqui that contained instructions for handing out Muslim literature on campus and establishing Muslim college student associations. FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz declined to release any information yesterday about why the agency wants to question Siddiqui and Kahn.

Meanwhile yesterday, US Attorney Michael Sullivan, joined by the heads of the Boston and MBTA police, as well as the State Police and the FBI, announced creation of a joint operations center to ''receive, analyze, and respond'' to reports of any terrorist threats in Massachusetts. William Chase, acting special agent in charge of the Boston office of the FBI, said agents will begin interviewing Iraqi nationals living in Boston.

''These individuals may have information about terrorist threats,'' Chase said. ''The FBI also wants to let them know where they can turn for help if they become the target of hate crimes.''

This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 3/20/2003.
Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.