American abducted in Pakistan makes fresh call for U.S. help

This still image taken from video shows Warren Weinstein, a U.S. contractor held by Al-Qaeda militant. (AFP / SITE Intelligence Group)

A 72-year-old U.S. government contractor who was kidnapped in Pakistan by al-Qaeda more than two years ago appealed to President Obama in a video released Thursday to negotiate his release, saying he feels “totally abandoned and forgotten.”

The video of Warren Weinstein was the first since two videos released in September 2012. The video and an accompanying letter purported to be from Weinstein was emailed anonymously to reporters. The video was labeled “As-Sahab,” which is al-Qaeda'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.

“You are now in your second term as president of the United States and that means that you can take hard decisions without worrying about reelection,” said Weinstein, who was recorded sitting in front of a a white wall wearing a gray tracksuit top and a black woolen hat.

A State Department spokeswoman and a member of Weinstein’s family said Wednesday night that they had not independently received the note or video, according The Washington Post

Weinstein, the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S.-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors, was abducted from his house in the eastern city of Lahore in August 2011, the Associated Press reported.

“Nine years ago I came to Pakistan to help my government, and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here, and now when I need my government it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten,” Weinstein said during the 13-minute video. “And so I again appeal to you to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release.”

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri said in a 2011 statement Weinstein would be released if the U.S. halted airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and also demanded the release of all al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects around the world.

The White House has called for Weinstein’s immediate release but has said it won’t negotiate with al-Qaeda.

The video appeared to be the captive’s first proof of life since a video statement was released in September 2012. In that video, Weinstein appealed to Israel’s prime minister “as one Jew to another,” asking him to help build support for negotiations with al-Qaeda to secure his release.

(With the Associated Press)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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