The Slatest

White House Says U.S. Accidentally Killed Two al-Qaida Hostages in January

President Obama outside the White House on Wednesday.

Pool/Aude Guerrucci/Getty

Two hostages—Warren Weinstein, an American, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian—were accidentally killed near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in a U.S. “counterterrorism operation” in January, the White House said in a Thursday press release. The release also announced that two American citizens who were al-Qaida operatives are believed to have been killed in the same region.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the attack that killed Weinstein and Lo Porto was a drone strike in Pakistan.

From the White House release:

Our hearts go out to the families of Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American held by al-Qa’ida since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national who had been an al-Qa’ida hostage since 2012.  Analysis of all available information has led the Intelligence Community to judge with high confidence that the operation accidentally killed both hostages.  The operation targeted an al-Qa’ida-associated compound, where we had no reason to believe either hostage was present, located in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On the al-Qaida operatives:

We have concluded that Ahmed Farouq, an American who was an al-Qa’ida leader, was killed in the same operation that resulted in the deaths of Dr. Weinstein and Mr. Lo Porto.  We have also concluded that Adam Gadahn, an American who became a prominent member of al-Qa’ida, was killed in January, likely in a separate U.S. Government counterterrorism operation.

The WSJ says the operation that “likely” killed Gadahn—who moved to Pakistan in 1998 and has appeared in a number of propaganda videos—was also a drone strike.

The White House release says President Obama “takes full responsibility” for the hostages’ deaths.