Warren Weinstein of Md., held by al-Qaeda in Pakistan, pleads for help in new video
By Julie Tate,
Warren Weinstein, a 71-year-old American aid expert from Rockville who was kidnapped in Pakistan last year, has appeared in a 90-second video apparently produced by al-Qaeda’s media group known as as-Sahab.
The American pleaded for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to negotiate his release from his captors in Pakistan. Weinstein last appeared in an al-Qaeda video earlier this year, asking for President Obama to meet his captors’ demands that convicted terrorists held in the United States be freed.
The video, released Wednesday by as-Sahab, shows Weinstein delivering his brief message in English, with Arabic subtitles.
Weinstein asked his wife, Elaine, to work with Jewish communities to help win his release. “Please make as many contacts as you can with Jewish communities in the United States in order to put pressure on the American government and President Obama to work with and accept the demands of the mujaheddin in order for me to get my freedom,” Weinstein said.
He also suggested that his wife make appeals to the “Republican candidate,” presumably a reference to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Weinstein was taken hostage in Lahore in August 2011 where he was working as the Pakistan director for J.E. Austin Associates, a development and aid contractor. Weinstein has more than 25 years of experience in the field of international development.
In the video, he appeared in a white T-shirt in front of a camouflage background. Weinstein said his health was good and that he was “taking all [his] medications . . . being taken care of” by his captors. Weinstein suffers from heart disease, asthma and diabetes.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping in December. Zawahiri said Weinstein’s release would require an end to airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen as well as the release of Muslim prisoners held in the United States.
Weinstein closed the 90-second video with a plea to his wife to work with the Israeli government to accept the unspecified “demands” of the mujaheddin “so that I can come back and be with you, the children and the grandchildren. I love you all.”