WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) -- An American aid worker who was abducted by al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan last year has pleaded in an online video with U.S. President Barack Obama to accept the demands of his captors in return for his safe release.
The 2-minute video, entitled 'A Message from the Prisoner Warren Weinstein to His President', was distributed by al-Qaeda's media arm As-Sahab on Islamist Internet forums on Monday. Weinstein, 70, was kidnapped at gunpoint from his house in the Pakistani city of Lahore in August 2011.
"My name is Warren Weinstein. My wife is Elaine and I'd like her to know that I'm fine and well and given all my medications and being taken care of," said Weinstein, who was seated behind a table with a small stack of books and several plates of food. The room was concealed with white sheets.
Weinstein, who has worked as the director of Pakistan Initiative for Strategic Development and Competitiveness (PISDAC) at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), directly appealed to Obama to accept al-Qaeda's demand to end airstrikes by the U.S. and its allies in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza. They also demand the release of al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners in U.S. detention.
"I'd like to talk to President Obama and ask him and beg him that he please accept and respond to the demands of the Mujahideen (Muslim fighters)," Weinstein said in the video. "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. It's important that you accept the demands and act quickly and don't delay."
While it is impossible to know whether Weinstein was being forced to read out a prepared statement by his captors, his message then continued to become more critical towards Obama. "I know that you have two daughters that you enjoy. You enjoy, you love them, you spend time with them, but I get the feeling that you are not paying any attention or care about my problem or my needs," he said. "And you are not paying attention and you don't give much importance to my situation."
Weinstein pointed out that he is an American citizen who has worked in public service for the U.S. government for many years, and said he hopes his country will now look after him by meeting the demands of al-Qaeda. "I think that it is important that you act quickly. The demands of the Mujahideen are not difficult. They are according to Islamic law. They're easy. If you respond to them then I will live and hopefully rejoin my family and also rejoin my children, my two daughters, like you enjoy your two daughters," he said. "But it is very important that you act quickly and I'm now waiting for your response."
Responding to the video's release, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama was aware of it but has not seen the video. Carney and other U.S. officials ruled out they would consider agreeing to the demands. "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," he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. government has continued to work on the case despite the deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. "We have called, and continue to call for his immediate release, and we continue to cooperate closely with Pakistani authorities on the ongoing investigation," he said. "And we're obviously also in close contact with Mr. Weinstein's family, offering appropriate consular assistance as they requested."
Weinstein is the first private American citizen to have been taken hostage by terrorists in Pakistan since journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi in 2002. He was tortured and subsequently beheaded on video before being left in a shallow grave. His death caused a worldwide movement in favor of journalists' protection and freedom of the press.
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