The Slatest

Killed al-Qaida Hostage’s Family Calls U.S. Handling of Case “Inconsistent and Disappointing”

Warren Weinstein in a 2013 video distributed by his captors.

Screen shot/Huffington Post

A statement released by the family of Warren Weinstein—one of the two al-Qaida hostages believed to have been killed in January by an American drone strike against a target in Pakistan—is critical of the American government’s response to his abduction and says his death should “finally prompt the U.S. Government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families.” Weinstein said he felt “totally abandoned and forgotten” in a video released in 2013 by his captors.

Weinstein was kidnapped from his home in the relatively secure Pakistani city of Lahore, where he was working for a private contractor employed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, in 2011. He was Jewish.

The family’s statement quotes Weinstein’s wife, Elaine:

“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 cowardly actions of those who took Warren captive and ultimately to the place and time of his death are not in keeping with Islam and they will have to face their God to answer for their actions,” Mrs. Weinstein said.

Weinstein was a Maryland resident, and the statement thanks his local representatives for their work on his behalf before criticizing others.

“I want to thank Congressman John Delaney, Senator Barbara Mikulski, and Senator Ben Cardin – as well as specific officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation – for their relentless efforts to free my husband.” Mrs. Weinstein added, “Unfortunately, the assistance we received from other elements of the U.S. Government was inconsistent and disappointing over the course of three and a half years. We hope that my husband’s death and the others who have faced similar tragedies in recent months will finally prompt the U.S. Government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families.”

“I am disappointed in the government and military in Pakistan. Warren’s safe return should have been a priority for them based on his contributions to their country, but they failed to take action earlier in his captivity when opportunity presented itself, instead treating Warren’s captivity as more of an annoyance than a priority. I hope the nature of our future relationship with Pakistan is reflective of how they prioritize situations such as these.”

The statement says Weinstein “loved and respected the Pakistani people and their culture” and had learned to speak Urdu.

There are no other American hostages publicly known to be held by ISIS or al-Qaida, though such cases are often kept quiet by families and authorities. A journalist and Marine veteran Austin Tice was apparently kidnapped in Syria 2012, but his captors have never been identified and his current whereabouts are unknown; an American woman named Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband were abducted in Afghanistan in 2012 and are possibly being held by the Taliban.*

*This sentence was updated to include information about Caitlan Coleman.