The house of kidnapped American development expert Warren Weinstein in Lahore, Pakistan, is seen in the background, Aug. 15, 2011. (K.M. Chaudary/AP)
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced this week that the terrorist group is holding American contractor Warren Weinstein captive in Pakistan.
In a newly released audio message, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri claims that his organization is holding hostage Warren Weinstein, a 70-year-old American who went missing in August in Pakistan.
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Zawahiri’s statement is the first official claim of responsibility by any group in relation to the kidnapping, and a U.S. official said the statement buttressed earlier “indications” that al Qaeda might be holding the American.
“I tell the captive soldiers of Al Qaeda and the Taliban and our female prisoners held in the prisons of the crusaders and their collaborators, we have not forgotten you and in order to free you we have taken hostage the Jewish American Warren Weinstein,” says Zawahiri in the 30-minute statement, which appeared on jihadi websites Thursday and otherwise focuses mainly on the situation in his native Egypt.
The leader of Al Qaeda addresses Weinstein’s family, telling them that “your government tortures our prisoners, but we have not tortured your prisoner.” He also warns them not to trust President Obama’s assurances that everything is being done to secure Weinstein’s release, accusing the president of wishing “[Weinstein] would be killed to get rid of his problem.”
This sketch released by Punjab police in Lahore, Pakistan on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 shows a suspect allegedly involved in the abduction of American development expert Warren Weinstein. The US contractor was snatched out of his home in Lahore, where he has lived for the last seven years in August. (ABC)