Al-Qaida releases video of American hostage

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a video released Sunday by al-Qaida, American hostage Warren Weinstein said he will be killed unless President Barack Obama agrees to the militant group's demands.

"My life is in your hands, Mr. President," Weinstein said in the video. "If you accept the demands, I live; if you don't accept the demands, then I die."

Weinstein was abducted last August in Lahore, Pakistan, after gunmen tricked his guards and broke into his home. The 70-year-old is the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a Washington area firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors.

In a video message posted on militant websites in December, 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.

The White House had no comment Monday on al-Qaida's demands or Weinstein's plea.

A woman who answered the phone Monday at a number listed for Weinstein in Rockville, Maryland, said she had no comment when an Associated Press reporter identified herself. Phone messages left for Weinstein's relatives were not immediately returned.

A friend and business associate of Weinstein's said he was grateful to view the video that showed the hostage in apparent good health.

Mike Redwood of Somerset, England, told The Associated Press Weinstein is "more capable of withstanding these circumstances" than anyone else he knows. But Redwood said it is still depressing to see him in captivity.

Redwood said Weinstein spoke in "measured tones" that indicated he knows what he is doing.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant messages, said Al-Sahab, al-Qaida's media arm, posted the Weinstein video on jihadist forums Sunday.

"It's important you accept the demands and act quickly and don't delay," Weinstein said in the video, addressing Obama. "There'll be no benefit in delaying, it will just make things more difficult for me."

He also appealed to Obama as a father. If the president responds to the militants' demands, Weinstein said, "then I will live and hopefully rejoin my family and also enjoy my children, my two daughters, like you enjoy your two daughters."

After his kidnapping, Weinstein's company said he was in poor health and provided a detailed list of medications, many of them for heart problems, that it implored the kidnappers to give him.

In the video released Sunday, Weinstein said he would like his wife, Elaine, to know "I'm fine, I'm well, I'm getting all my medications, I'm being taken care of."

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Associated Press reporter Karen Mahabir contributed from Washington.

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