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Asia-pacific

US al Qaeda hostage pleads for Obama’s help

© Photo: screen grab

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-27

A 72-year-old American man kidnapped by al Qaeda in Pakistan more than two years ago has called on US President Barack Obama to help secure his freedom in a video released Thursday.

Warren Weinstein, a development worker who was abducted in the eastern city of Lahore in August 2011, says in the 13-minute clip he feels “totally abandoned and forgotten” by his government, which has so far refused to negotiate with his captors.

Addressing Obama directly, Weinstein says: “Nine years ago I came to Pakistan to help my government, and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here, and now when I need my government it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten.”

“And so I again appeal to you to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release.”

Weinstein, wearing a grey track suit jacket and black knit hat, looked gaunt and tired as he spoke.

“I am not in good health. I have a heart condition. I suffer from acute asthma... Needless to say I've been suffering deep anxiety every part of every day," he said.

The video, which was accompanied by a letter purporting to be from Weinstein, was sent anonymously to reporters in Pakistan.

Video message from US al Qaeda hostage Warren Weinstein

The video was labelled “As-Sahab”, the name of al Qaeda’s media wing, but its authenticity has not been independently verified, while it is unknown how much of Weinstein's statement, if any, was made under duress or scripted by his captors.

It is the first video of Weinstein to emerge since September 2012, when two clips were released showing the elderly hostage appealing for help from the Jewish community and Israel's prime minister.

Weinstein, from Rockville, Maryland, had been working in Pakistan as the country director for US consultancy firm JE Austin Associates, which advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors.

He was kidnapped from his home in Lahore’s wealthy neighbourhood of Model Town, just two days before he was due to return to the United States.

In exchange for his release, al Qaeda has demanded that the US halt airstrikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, as well set free al Qaeda and Taliban suspects being held around the world.

However, the US government has stuck by a general policy of not negotiating with kidnappers.

Date created : 2013-12-27

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