An American contractor kidnapped by al-Qaida in Pakistan two years ago appears in a video that surfaced Thursday pleading with President Barack Obama to negotiate for his release and saying he feels “totally abandoned.”
Warren Weinstein, who was snatched from his home in Lahore in August 2011, appears weary and dejected in the 13-minute video bearing the stamp of As-Sahab, al-Qaida’s media operation.
“I am not in good health. I have a heart condition. I suffer from acute asthma,” Weinstein, 72, says in the video clip emailed to several journalists covering South Asia. “Needless to say, I’ve been suffering deep anxiety every part of every day.”
At the time of his kidnapping, Weinstein was working as Pakistan country director for J.E. Austin Associates, a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“Mr. President, for the majority of my adult life, for over 30 years, I’ve served my country,” Weinstein says in the video. “Now when I need my government it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten.”
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement that her office was “working hard” to authenticate the video and an accompanying letter.
U.S. policy rejects negotiating with terrorists to win release of their captives, but Weinstein proposed that Obama “take hard decisions” now that he is in his second term as president and needn’t worry about re-election consequences.
Weinstein suggested that the U.S. administration consider freeing some al-Qaida figures in its custody.