Warren Weinstein, a 70-year old aid expert who was kidnapped in Pakistan last year, has appealed to the President to help save his life in a video posted on jihadist websites Sunday. The video is the first proof of Weinstein being alive, but it was not clear when it was shot.
"My life is in your hands, Mr. President. If you accept the demands, I live; if you don't accept the demands, then I die...There'll be no benefit in delaying; it will just make things more difficult for me," Weinstein says in the nearly three minute video released by Al-Qaeda's al-Sahab arm.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri released a series of demands in exchange for Weinstein's release in December including a cessation of U.S.-led airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and the release of multiple al-Qaeda operatives detained worldwide.
On Monday, White House Spokesman Jay Carney could not confirm whether the President had seen the video. He added, "We remain greatly concerned for Mr. Weinstein's safety and his well-being...The U.S. government will continue making every effort to see Mr. Weinstein released safety to his family, but we cannot and will not negotiate with al Qaeda."
State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner echoed these remarks, adding, "We have called, and continue to call for his immediate release, and we continue to cooperate closely with Pakistani authorities on the ongoing investigation."
But when asked if it is "unlikely" the U.S. will concede to the demands, Toner replied, "It is. I mean, as you know, we don't make concessions to terrorists."
Weinstein was kidnapped from his home last August in Lahore, Pakistan, where he worked for J.E. Austin Associates, an American aid company with contracts from U.S. Agency for International Development. He suffers from multiple medical problems, but said in the video he is receiving all his necessary medication and is being treated well.
Weinstein is a former Fulbright scholar and is fluent in Urdu. He had lived in Pakistan for many years working on aid programs and was known as an easy-going, calm and likable. When he was kidnapped, Weinstein was slated to return back to the U.S. for retirement within a number of days.
by RTT Staff Writer
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