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Entries in Warren Weinstein (2)

Monday
Aug132012

Wife Pleads for Release of Md. Man Held by Al Qaeda

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- On the first anniversary of his kidnapping, the wife of a 71-year-old Maryland man abducted in Pakistan and held by al Qaeda is pleading for his release, saying he is "not in good health" and needs immediate attention from doctors.

"One year ago my husband, Warren Weinstein, was kidnapped while working in Pakistan," said Elaine Weinstein in a statement released Monday. She said that her husband has a heart condition, high blood pressure and severe asthma. "We fear that Warren's health will deteriorate if he is not allowed to see the doctors and specialists that have helped keep him alive in recent years."

Elaine Weinstein also said her family was "devastated that it has been a year since he has been with us… Our grandchildren are growing and changing so fast. They miss their grandfather and ask for him every day. It is so difficult to explain why he can't be with them."

Weinstein, a former Peace Corps and USAID official, was working for a private contracting company in Lahore, Pakistan when gunmen broke into his house and took him away. He had told employees he was due to finish his work for J.E. Austin and leave Pakistan very soon.

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri first claimed that al Qaeda was holding Weinstein in December 2011, and implied that he would use his hostage as a bargaining chip to free "captive soldiers of al Qaeda."

"[President] Obama has the power, capacity and authority to free [Weinstein]," said Zawahiri. "He could also leave him in captivity for years, and if he does something stupid, kill him."

In March, Zawahiri demanded the release of Pakistani doctor Aafia Siddiqui, "blind sheikh" Omar Abdel-Rahman and members of Osama bin Laden's family in return for Weinstein.

In May, Al Qaeda released a tape of Weinstein in which he begs President Obama to give in to the demands of the terrorist organization to save his life.

"My life is in your hands, Mr. President," Warren Weinstein says in the video, which was released. "If you accept the demands, I live. If you don't accept the demands, then I die. It's important that you accept the demands and act quickly and don't delay."

"I've done a lot of service for my country, and I would hope that my country will now look after me and take care of me and meet the demands of the mujahedeen, he continued."

In today's statement, Elaine Weinstein says her husband "loves Pakistan and lived there for eight years so he could dedicate his time and energy to working with the people."

"My only hope is that Warren will safely come home and be with me, our children and grandchildren, and the people who love us."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec012011

Al Qaeda Leader Zawahiri Says He Has US Hostage 

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a newly released audio message, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri claims that his organization is holding hostage Warren Weinstein, a 70-year-old American who went missing last August in Pakistan. Zawahiri's statement is the first official claim of responsibility by any group in relation to the kidnapping.

"I tell the captive soldiers of al Qaeda and the Taliban and our female prisoners held in the prisons of the crusaders and their collaborators, we have not forgotten you and in order to free you we have taken hostage the Jewish American Warren Weinstein," says Zawahiri in the 30-minute statement, which appeared on jihadi websites Thursday and otherwise focuses mainly on the situation in his native Egypt.

The leader of al Qaeda addresses Weinstein's family, telling them that "your government tortures our prisoners, but we have not tortured your prisoner." He also warns them not to trust President Obama's assurances that everything is being done to secure Weinstein's release, accusing the president of wishing "[Weinstein] would be killed to get rid of his problem."

In exchange for Weinstein's release, Zawahiri requests the lifting of the Israeli "siege" of the Gaza strip, the complete end of "bombings by America and its allies in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza," the release of all al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners and the closing down of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo bay, Cuba, in addition to the release of members of Osama bin Laden's family.

"Obama has the power, capacity and authority to free [Weinstein]," says Zawahiri. "He could also leave him in captivity for years and, if he does something stupid, kill him."

In August, Pakistani police arrested three men in connection with the kidnapping. Weinstein, a private U.S. citizen who has lived in Pakistan for seven years, was sleeping in his bed when assailants burst into his home to snatch him. The former USAID worker is currently employed by the private U.S.-based development firm J.E. Austin Associates.

All three suspects are from the same province in which Weinstein lived, an area far from the turbulent tribal regions near the Afghan border more usually associated with violent attacks. The men were arrested after investigators managed to track their cell phone numbers, the Lahore police chief said without elaborating.

Some in Pakistan have speculated privately that Weinstein was not a development worker, but instead worked in intelligence for the U.S. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah publicly announced his suspicions, telling local media that Weinstein was involved in "quite suspect" intelligence-gathering for the U.S. government and comparing him to Raymond Davis, the American CIA contractor who was jailed in Pakistan earlier this year for shooting two men on the streets of Lahore.

U.S. diplomats said Weinstein is not connected to any U.S. intelligence groups.

Weinstein is the first private citizen to be kidnapped in Pakistan since al Qaeda operatives abducted and murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.

On the new tape, Zawahiri also acknowledges for the first time the death of his number two, al Qaeda deputy leader Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, in a CIA drone strike in Pakistan's tribal area in August. One senior U.S. official described his death at the time as "a tremendous loss for al Qaeda, because Zawahiri was relying heavily on him to help guide and run the organization, especially since bin Laden's death." According to U.S. officials, Atiyah was the "operational leader" of the terror group.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio