An American development worker and Peace Corps veteran who was kidnapped more than two years ago from his home in Pakistan by men claiming to be affiliated with al-Qaida, asks President Obama in a newly released video “to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release.”
Warren Weinstein, 72, is also heard saying he feels “totally abandoned and forgotten.”
“The video and an accompanying letter purported to be from Weinstein was emailed anonymously to reporters in Pakistan. The video was labelled ‘As-Sahab,’ which is al-Qaida’s media wing, but its authenticity could not be independently verified. The letter was dated Oct. 3, 2013 and in the video Weinstein said he had been in captivity for two years.”
We wrote about Weinstein last year, noting that he “is an international aid expert who was taken hostage last August just 48 hours before he was due to leave Pakistan.” He said in a video message released in early May 2012 that “my life is in your hands, Mr. President. If you accept the demands, I live. If you don’t accept the demands, I die.”
Weinstein was snatched from his home in Lahore by masked gunmen in August 2011.
Al-Qaida has said Weinstein will be released if the U.S. halts drone strikes aimed at terrorist targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Al-Qaida also wants some suspected terrorists released from custody. The White House, as the AP says, “has called for Weinstein’s immediate release but has said it won’t negotiate with al-Qaida.”
The Washington Post has put the new video, which lasts about 13 minutes, online here. The AP has posted an edited version with highlights. [Update at 12:40 p.m. ET: Since we posted, the AP has removed its version of the video from YouTube. So we’ve removed the video player that had that clip from this post.]
As with any such video, it’s important to remember that the hostage may only be repeating what he’s been ordered to say.