Warren Weinstein, US Al Qaeda hostage in Pakistan, makes video plea to Obama


Pakistani policemen stand guard outside the house of a U.S. national after armed men kidnapped him in Lahore on Aug. 13, 2011.


Arif Ali

Al Qaeda has released video footage of an American man abducted in Pakistan last year, in which he tells the US government that he will be killed unless his captors' demands are met.

Warren Weinstein, 70, was abducted from his home in Lahore last August. Al Qaeda announced in December that they were holding him hostage, and would release him in exchange for an end to US air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

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In a short video that appeared on jihadist forums yesterday, the Associated Press reports, Weinstein tells President Barack Obama that "my life is in your hands."

"If you accept the demands, I live," Weinstein is quoted as saying. "If you don't accept the demands, then I die."

Weinstein reportedly urged Obama to act quickly so that he can "live and hopefully rejoin my family and also enjoy my children, my two daughters, like you enjoy your two daughters." Addressing his wife, Weinstein told her he was in good health and receiving the medication he requires.

Dressed in a traditional Pakistani tunic and alone in front of the camera, Weinstein delivers his message "impassively," according to Agence France Presse.

The SITE monitoring service, which tracks online communications relating to terrorism, says the video was posted by Al Qaeda's media branch, Al Sahab, according to the AP.

It is not clear when or where the video was filmed, the BBC said. It is thought to be the first footage of Weinstein to emerge since his kidnap on Aug. 13, 2011.

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Between eight and 10 armed men abducted him early that morning from the property where he lived and worked in Lahore, in eastern Pakistan, even though three security guards were on duty at the time.

No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping until the leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, announced the group was holding him at the beginning of December. Pakistani security officials believe he is being held in the country's north-west tribal region but do not know his exact location, sources told AFP.

According to Suzanna Koster, reporting for GlobalPost from Lahore, Weinstein is a development expert for consulting company J.E. Austin Associates Inc., where he was involved in projects aimed at developing industries and food production in nearby regions. He had been living in Lahore for at least six years before his abduction.