The Islamic State (ISIS) is demanding $6.6 million and the release of a female Pakistani scientist with al-Qaida ties in exchange for a 26-year-old American woman.
The American hostage's family asked that she not be identified. She was captured a year ago while doing humanitarian work in Syria.
The terrorist group wants the United States to release 42-year-old Aafia Siddiqui, a neuroscientist who studied at MIT. Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 of trying to kill two American officials.
She is serving an 86-year prison sentence in a mental ward of a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Daily Beast
quotes "Securing the City,"
a book written by one of its editors, Christopher Dickey, saying that Siddiqui has a long history with al-Qaida.
She was recruited by Ali Abd al-Azziz Ali, also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, because of her scientific knowledge and political and religious connections, Dickey said.
"U.S. officials eventually said they feared that Siddiqui's scientific background would give her the expertise to help al-Qaida build biological or chemical weapons," Dickey wrote.
After leaving the United States, she was captured in Afghanistan.
American officers attempted to interrogate her after they had found "bomb-making instructions, chemical weapons and briefing notes about potential attacks on American landmarks." But she assaulted the officers, turning a rifle on them.
She was found guilty in a New York court of seven counts of attempted murder, armed assault, using a firearm, and assaulting American officers, the Beast reported.
Her case has become a cause célèbre in her native Pakistan, and her freedom is regularly sought by groups critical of American foreign policy in the Middle East. Petitions of two websites have garnered more than 100,000 signatures.
reported that her family issued a statement saying that while they continue to fight for her release, they do not want it tied to terrorists' demands.
"If the issue is true, we would like to state that our family does not have any connections to such groups or actions," the letter reads. "We believe in a struggle that is peaceful and dignified. Associating Aafia's name with acts of violence is against everything we are struggling for."
The woman being held by ISIS is one of three remaining U.S. hostages in the group's custody after the execution this month of journalist James Foley.
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