Warren Weinstein, an Al-Qaida hostage, was killed during a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January, and now President Obama is offering his “grief and condolences” to his family.
“I take full responsibility for a U.S. government counterterrorism operation that killed two innocent hostages held by al-Qaida,” Obama said from the White House briefing room, according to 4 NBC Washington.
“I profoundly regret what happened,” he added. “We will identify the lessons that can be learned from this tragedy and any changes that should be made.”
“It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war, generally, and in our fight against terrorists specifically, mistakes — and sometimes deadly mistakes — can occur. But one of the things that sets America apart from many other nations, one of the things that makes us exceptional, is our willingness to confront to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our mistakes.”
Up until now, the details regarding the couterterrorism strike had remained classified, but Obama has requested that they be declassified and shared with the American people.
“The President directed that the information being shared today, which was properly classified until now, be declassified and shared with the American people. He takes full responsibility for these operations and believes it is important to provide the American people with as much information as possible about our counterterrorism operations, particularly when they take the lives of fellow citizens.”
“The uniquely tragic nature of the operation that resulted in the deaths of two innocent hostages is something we will do our utmost to ensure is not repeated. To this end, although the operation was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies, we are conducting a thorough independent review to understand fully what happened and how we can prevent this type of tragic incident in the future. “
The NPR reports that the White House released a statement on Thursday announcing the two deaths. While the statement did not clarify how the men, Maryland native Warren Weinstein and Italian national Giovanni Lo Porto, were killed, it is speculated that their deaths resulted from a drone strike.
“Analysis of all available information has led the Intelligence Community to judge with high confidence that the operation accidentally killed both hostages. The operation targeted an al-Qa’ida-associated compound, where we had no reason to believe either hostage was present, located in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. No words can fully express our regret over this terrible tragedy.”
According to NBC, Weinstein was the “country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S.-based development contractor that advises different Pakistani business and government sectors.” Warren was kidnapped in 2011 when gunmen tricked his guards and broke into his home in the Pakistani city of Lahore.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]