Barack Obama is nothing if not a man devoted to his family and that sensibility is exactly what Warren Weinstein used to plead with Obama to help free him in a video sent anonymously to journalists on Thursday, The Washington Post reported.
Weinstein is being held by members of Al Qaeda, the terrorist group founded and once commanded by Osama bin Laden. But since bin Laden’s death at the hands of a U.S. Navy Seal commando team on May 2, 2011, the terror organization is under the command, observers believe, of bin Laden’s former chief lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician-turned-militant.
On August 13, 2011, Weinstein was kidnapped by Al Qaeda gunmen who invaded his home in the Pakistani city of Lahore.
Weinstein, now 72, was working as a consultant to U.S. government development efforts in Pakistan. His employer, J.E. Austin Associates of Arlington, Virginia, has described him as a leading expert on international development, according to CNN.
“Mr. Obama, you’re a family man,” Weinstein says in the video. “You understand the deep mental anxiety and anguish that I have been experiencing for these past more than two years. And therefore I’m appealing to you on a humanitarian basis, if nothing else, and asking that you take the necessary actions to expedite my release and my return to my family and to my country.”
Al Qaeda previously said that it would release Weinstein if the Obama agreed to free prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and halt drone strikes in Pakistan and other areas. The terrorist group has said it would kill Weinstein if the U.S. did not meet its demands, but the latest video appears to show that Weinstein remains alive after more than two years in captivity.
The U.S. government has maintained a policy of refusing to negotiate with Al Qaeda, a group responsible for several high-profile terror strikes including the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The slaying of bin Laden has been Obama’s most prominent foreign policy accomplishment.
The State Department called for the terror group to set Weinstein free.
“We’re working hard to authenticate this latest report, but we reiterate our call that Warren Weinstein be released and returned to his family,” said State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki in a prepared statement. “Particularly during this holiday season – another one away from his family – our hopes and prayers are with him and those who love and miss him.”
In the video, Weinstein says he is in poor health, suffering from asthma and a heart condition, and “the years have taken their toll.”
Obama is currently vacationing in Hawaii and has not, as of Thursday afternoon, responded to the new Weinstein video in any way.
Below is a CNN report containing excerpts from the video: