Warren Weinstein, the American kidnapped in Pakistan who in a video released by al-Qaida over the weekend says he will die if President Obama does not go along with the terrorist network’s demands, is an international aid expert who was taken hostage last August just 48 hours before he was due to leave Pakistan.
As NPR’s Julie McCarthy has reported, “Weinstein is said to have lived in Pakistan at least six years, working with J.E. Austin, an international development consulting firm based in Virginia. Weinstein is reputed in the industry to be a veteran of development aid, which is what he was doing in Pakistan, according to the company.”
He is “a former Peace Corps and U.S. aid official,” ABC News adds.
The 70-year-old Weinstein, who is from Rockville, Md., says in the video that “my life is in your hands, Mr. President. If you accept the demands, I live. If you don’t accept the demands, I die.”
“In a video message posted on militant websites in December,” The Associated Press says, “al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri said Weinstein would be released if the United States stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. He also demanded the release of all al-Qaida and Taliban suspects around the world.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Pakistani officials have said they believe that Weinstein is being held somewhere in the country’s volatile tribal region along the Afghan border, where al-Qaida militants and other Islamic extremist groups maintain strongholds. The 2-minute, 40-second video of Weinstein, released on Sunday, shows him dressed in a traditional Pakistani tunic as he calmly urges Obama to acquiesce to Al Qaeda’s demands.”