Militant group claims U.S. government has made no efforts to secure release of development expert abducted from Lahore.
Al Qaeda has urged the family of an American kidnapped in Pakistan in 2011 to press their government to negotiate an exchange or face the risk of his “dying a lonely death.”
“If you want Warren Weinstein to be released, do whatever you can to pressurize your government,” it said in a statement posted this week on Islamist websites.
Weinstein, a development expert who had lived in Lahore since 2006 and learned Urdu, was snatched from his home on Aug. 13, 2011. He appeared in a December 2013 video in which, under apparent coercion, he called on the United States to free Al Qaeda prisoners.
The kidnappers of the 73-year-old American are demanding the release of several Islamists jailed in the United States, including the blind cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman.
“Your continued silence on the inaction of your government will only lead to your prisoner dying a lonely death in prison after this deliberate and prolonged neglect on the part of your government,” said Al Qaeda in the statement, which claimed it wanted to “clarify” the information provided to Weinstein’s family. According to the statement, the U.S. government has made no “serious efforts” to secure Weinstein’s release and has not contacted Al Qaeda.
“Your government wants Warren Weinstein to die in prison so that it may absolve itself of responsibility regarding his case,” it added. “We are not interested in retaining the prisoner in our protection. We are only seeking to exchange him in return for the fulfillment of our demands that we have conveyed,” it said.
Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, claiming responsibility in December 2011 for the abduction, demanded a halt to U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen as well as prisoner releases.