Report: Family of Warren Weinstein paid ransom for release
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The family of Warren Weinstein, one of the two men killed in an US-led anti-terror drone strike in January, paid a ransom in 2012 to lead to the man’s release, according to CNN.
The source, a Pakistani who was in contact with Weinstein’s kidnappers, said the family paid an undisclosed amount of money about a year after his capture.
After the money was received, the captors, who are believed to be al-Qaeda members, began advocating for the release of prisoners, specifically Dr. Aafia Siddiqui of Pakistan, according to the source.
Siddiqui, often described as the “poster girl” for Islamic jihad, is currently serving an 86-year sentence in the United States for the attempted murder of a United States Army captain.
Weinstein was working for J.E. Austin Associates Inc., a Virginia-based consulting firm working with the United States Agency for International Development, when he was captured from his home in Lahore, Pakistan on Aug. 13, 2011. His captors posed as his neighbors, attacked his security guards and beat him up.
Weinstein, who had done economic development work for more than 30 years, first arrived in Pakistan in 2004. He was scheduled to return to his home in Maryland four days after his capture.
President Barack Obama has taken full responsibility for the deaths of Weinstein and Italian humanitarian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto, who was also killed in the drone strike after being captured in 2012.
Al Qaeda released three proof-of-life videos of Weinstein in 2012 and a fourth in 2013, each one pleading for his release.
“My life is in your hands,” Weinstein said in a 2012 video addressed to Obama. “If you accept the demands, I live; if you don’t accept the demands, I die.”
Weinstein appeared again in a December 2013 video, stating his government had abandoned him.
“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,” he said. “And now, when I need my government, it seems I have been totally abandoned and forgotten.”
The source spoke to the captors daily throughout 2012 until early April 2015, when they said Weinstein was still alive. The calls stopped shortly after, according to the source.
Elaine Weinstein, Warren’s wife, said in a statement that her and her family were hopeful the U.S. and Pakistani governments would use their power to ensure his release.
“On behalf of myself, our two daughters, our son-in-law, and two grandchildren, we are devastated by this news and the knowledge that my husband will never safely return home,” she said. “We were so hopeful that those in the U.S. and Pakistani governments with the power to take action and secure his release would have done everything possible to do so and there are no words to do justice to the disappointment and heartbreak we are going through.”
Elaine, who believes her husband would still be alive if his captors would have allowed him to return home after helping Pakistani citizens, said she and her family are looking forward to understanding the situation once the investigation into her husband’s death concludes.
“We do not yet fully understand all of the facts surrounding Warren’s death but we do understand that the U.S. government will be conducting an independent investigation of the circumstances,” she said. “We look forward to the results of that investigation. But those who took Warren captive over three years ago bear ultimate responsibility. I can assure you that he would still be alive and well if they had allowed him to return home after his time abroad working to help the people of Pakistan.”
The untimely deaths of Weinstein and Lo Porto have brought up many concerns about the United States’ hostage policy, which states the “U.S. Government will make no concessions to terrorists holding official or private U.S. citizens hostage.”
On April 24, officials said a nearly yearlong, inter-agency review of the hostage policy will be completed this spring.
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