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Entries in Warren Weinstein (5)

Wednesday
Sep122012

Al Qaeda Releases New Video of American Hostage

ABC(KABUL, Afghanistan) – Al Qaeda has released a new video of American hostage Warren Weinstein delivering a personal message to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.

In the video, Weinstein, 71, believed to be held in the tribal regions along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, appears healthy and calm, speaking in a soft, controlled manner.

"Unfortunately President Obama and the American government have shown no interest in my case," Weinstein says in the video, seated on a chair with his back slightly slouched, wearing a thin white T-shirt.

"Therefore, as a Jew, I'm appealing to you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, the head of the Jewish state of Israel, one Jew to another, to please intervene on my behalf."

Weinstein, a former Peace Corps and USAID official, was kidnapped from his home in an upscale neighborhood in Lahore in August 2011 after gunmen tricked his security guard into letting them enter the premises. At the time, Weinstein was working as the country director for J.E. Austin Associates, a consultancy firm whose website states its goal is to "improve productivity, to enhance competitiveness, to strengthen management and strategy implementation, and to facilitate economic development." According to the website, the company works with government and non-government organizations.

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri first claimed that al Qaeda was holding Weinstein in a December 2011 audio message, 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 another video of Weinstein, in which he appealed directly to President Obama to intervene for his release. He said his captors' demands included an end to U.S. airstrikes, and the release of al Qaeda members in prison.

"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."

Neither the U.S. embassy nor the Pakistani government publicly commented on the May video.

Israeli officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the newly released video.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May072012

American in Al Qaeda Custody Begs Obama to Meet Captives' Demands

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 70-year-old American contractor who was kidnapped by al Qaeda in Pakistan last August appeared in a new video released Sunday in which he begs President Obama to bow to his captors' demands in order to gain his release or else, he warns, they won't allow him to live.

Warren Weinstein, who appears to be in good health, first assures his wife, Elaine, that he is well and being cared for and then directly appeals to Obama to "respond to the demands from the mujahideen.  My life is in your hands, Mr. President.  If you accept the demands, I live.  If you don't accept the demands, then I die."

Weinstein worked for USAID and the Peace Corps, and mentions his experience in the video, stating, "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 mujahideen."  He adds that meeting the demands are easy.

The contractor brings up the fact that like Obama, he also has two daughters that he wants to see again.

Previously, al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri had claimed his group had Weinstein in captivity.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar162012

Al Qaeda Makes Demands in Return for American Hostage's Freedom

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The leader of al Qaeda has issued the terrorist organization's demands in exchange for the release of a 70-year-old American hostage in a newly released video online.

"By the grace of Allah, we, on our part, have captured the American Jew Warren Weinstein. He will not return to his family, by the will of Allah, until our demands are met, which include the release of Aafia Siddique, [Sheikh] Omar Abdul Rehman, the family of [Sheikh] Osama bin Laden, and every single person arrested on allegations of links with Al Qaeda and Taliban," Osama bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, says in the video, according to an accompanying translation provided by al Qaeda's media wing.

The demands come in the midst of a 10-minute message directed at the "Muslim Brothers in Pakistan" in which Zawahiri calls for the Pakistani people to revolt against the corrupt "slaves of America" at the top of the Pakistani military and government.

Zawahiri first claimed that al Qaeda was holding Weinstein in December and implied then that the elderly man would be used to help free "captive soldiers of al Qaeda." Weinstein, a private American citizen and former USAID worker who had been living in Pakistan for seven years, was snatched from his bed in the middle of the night Pakistan in August.

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

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Pakistani Cops Arrest 3 in American Kidnapping

Pakistan police have released a sketch of a person they believe to be involved in the abduction of Warren Weinstein. Handout(WASHINGTON) -- Pakistani police have arrested three men in connection with the kidnapping of 70-year-old American Warren Weinstein more than 10 days ago.

Police officers declined to give details about who the men are and what their connection to the Aug. 13 abduction may be. The three were detained by police Tuesday but were not officially arrested until Wednesday, authorities said.

No group has come forward to claim the kidnapping or issue demands in exchange for Weinstein's return -- an unusual development which sparked concern among some officials over Weinstein's fate. But one Pakistani intelligence official told ABC News last week there was no evidence to suggest the abductors had intended to kill Weinstein or that he had been accidentally killed.

"The Pakistanis are leading a very vigorous investigation," U.S. Department of State spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Wednesday, noting that the FBI and the U.S. Embassy are assisting in efforts to track Weinstein down.

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 cellphone numbers, the Lahore police chief said without elaborating.

Weinstein's friends and colleagues describe him as a diligent worker dedicated to helping Pakistani people.

"He is a tireless worker for development in Pakistan," Geoff Quartermaine Bastin, who worked with Weinstein after meeting him six years ago, told ABC News. Bastin said Weinstein "worked 18-hour days, three phones at once while talking to a fourth person at the table."

"He is very smart, very motivated and loved Pakistan and its people. He is careless of his health and safety, going everywhere to push his projects," Bastin said.

Weinstein suffers from a heart condition, and J.E. Austin Associates released a long list of medications that he takes, appealing to his abductors to provide them for him.

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 last week, telling local media that Weinstein was involved in "quite suspect" intelligence-gathering for the U.S. government and compared 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.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug182011

Pakistani Cops Release Sketch of Suspect in Kidnapping of American

Pakistan police have released a sketch of a person they believe to be involved in the abduction of Warren Weinstein. Handout(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistani police Thursday released a sketch of a person believed to be involved in the abduction of an American citizen in Pakistan, even as local investigators and the FBI admit they have no solid leads as to the whereabouts of 70-year-old Warren Weinstein.

The black-and-white sketch shows a young man with a boyish round face, dark stubble and medium-length dark hair. The FBI is investigating the case along with no less than six different groups of Pakistani officials, both police and U.S. officials admit they do not even know whether the American development expert is still alive. Investigators said they will be administering lie detector tests on Weinstein's local guards and drivers, who provided initial details of the kidnapping.

Weinstein was snatched out of his home in Lahore, where he has lived for the last seven years, over the weekend but no group has come forward to claim the kidnapping or issue demands in exchange for Weinstein's release in the following days -- an unusual development which nurtured fears by some officials over Weinstein's fate. But one Pakistani intelligence official told ABC News there was no evidence to suggest the abductors had intended to kill Weinstein or that he had been accidentally killed.

The intelligence official said there was evidence of a struggle and likely a head wound, but the amount of blood found in the home was not unusual following a kidnapping.

Weinstein, who worked with USAID in the 1990s, has been living privately in Pakistan and working for the U.S.-based J.E. Austin Associates, a company that "assists businesses and governments to achieve sustainable, equitable, business-led economic growth," according to the company's website.

Weinstein's friends and colleagues describe him as a diligent worker and dedicated to helping Pakistani people.

"He is a tireless worker for development in Pakistan," said Geoff Quartermaine Bastin, who worked with Weinstein after meeting him six years ago. Bastin said Weinstein "worked 18-hour days, three phones at once while talking to a fourth person at the table."

"He is very smart, very motivated and loved Pakistan and its people. He is careless of his health and safety going everywhere to push his projects," Bastin said.

Weinstein suffers from a heart condition, and his employer released a long list of medications that he takes, appealing to his abductors to provide them for him.

Some in Pakistan have speculated privately that Weinstein was not a development worker and 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 compared 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, and no Pakistani official has publicly said so other than Sanaullah.

Weinstein's kidnapping comes as U.S. and Pakistani officials are attempting to mend a rocky relationship strained first by the Raymond Davis affair and later by the U.S.'s unilateral raid of Osama bin Laden's compound deep in Pakistani territory in May.

"We consider our relationship with Pakistan to be of paramount importance," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday at the National Defense University. "We think it is very much in America's interest. We think it is in the long-term interest of Pakistan for us to work through what are very difficult problems in that relationship."

Weinstein is the first American working privately in Pakistan to be kidnapped since Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was abducted in January 2002 and later beheaded on camera by al Qaeda operatives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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