Warren Weinstein, an American held hostage by al-Qaeda in Pakistan since August 2011, appeared in a new video, appealing to U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as the American public and media, to negotiate for his release and to negotiate with his captors for his family to visit him.

According to media reports, the video was sent in an anonymous email to several journalists. While the Washington Post provided the video on its website on December 25, 2013, it has not yet been issued on jihadi forums. This is the fourth appearance by Weinstein in a production by al-Qaeda's as-Sahab Media Productions, the last of which came on September 13, 2012. The Washington Post reported that with the video, links were provided to a handwritten letter allegedly from Weinstein dated October 3, 2013. He did not give a date in the video, but the production date is the year 1435 Hijrah, which began on November 4, 2013.

In the video, Weinstein wears a beard, a black hat, and a grey tracksuit, and says that he is now over 72 years old and suffers from a heart condition and acute asthma. He addressed President Obama, and noting his second term in office and lack of reelection concerns, asked that he take a "hard decision" and negotiate for his release and for his family to visit him. He said: "I have asked my captors if they will allow my family to visit me. They have agreed to do so, but they have done so on the basis that you will make an agreement, an arrangement with them that will provide a quid pro quo with respect to their people who are being held as prisoner."

Weinstein made a similar appeal to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, urging that he use his diplomatic skills and act towards al-Qaeda's demands. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had given a list of demands for Weinstein's release in a video released in December 2011, including the end of air strikes, and the release of Muslim prisoners such as the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdul Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, Sayyid Nosair, and the family of Usama bin Laden.

He also expressed frustration with the lack of action towards his case by the U.S. government, and asked the American media to publicize his plight, and his family and the American public to raise the issue on social media.

Following is a transcript of the video and letter:


As-Sahab Media

Message from Warren Weinstein to the US President (Obama), US Secretary of State (John Kerry), Media, US public and his family

My name is Warren Weinstein. I am addressing this video to President Obama. It has been more than two years since I was taken prisoner by al-Qaeda while I was working as a consultant on U.S. government programs in Pakistan. I am now over 72 years of age. I am not in good health. I have a heart condition, I suffer from acute asthma, and the years have taken their toll. I have been cut off from my family, my wife, who is over 70, my two daughters, my two grandchildren, my son-in-law, and perhaps new members of the family whom I have never met. Needless to say, I have been suffering deep anxiety every part of every day, not knowing what is happening to my family, not knowing how they are, and because I am not with them.

Mr. President, for the majority of my adult life, for over 30 years, I have served my country as a college professor, as a civil servant - I have served as Peace Corps country director in West Africa, and in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) - and lastly, as a consultant. Nine years ago I came to Pakistan to help my government, and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here. And now, when I need my government, it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten.

You are now in your second term as President of the United States, and that means that you can take hard decisions without worrying about reelection, and so I again appeal to you to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release in order to alleviate my pain and suffering and to help me to reestablish my health.

I have asked my captors if they will allow my family to visit me. They have agreed to do so, but they have done so on the basis that you will make an agreement, an arrangement with them that will provide a quid pro quo with respect to their people who are being held as prisoner.

Mr. Obama, you are a family man and so you understand the deep mental anxiety and anguish that I have been experiencing for these past more than two years. I am therefore appealing to you, on a humanitarian basis if nothing else, and asking that you take the necessary actions to expedite my release and my return to my family and to my country, our country. I am also appealing to you as someone who has served his country and who now needs his country to help him. I hope and I pray to God that you, as leader of the United States, along with your administration, will feel an adequate level of responsibility toward me to work for my release.

I would now like to address the Secretary of State. Mr. Kerry, my captors have told me that you are engaged in seeking peace and an end to conflict in several places in the world. During the 1970s, I spent much of my time promoting human rights in many areas in many parts of the world. These included Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere. As an academic I also worked on conflict resolution with respect to ethnic conflict. I understand how difficult it is to work in these areas. Yet, I am appealing to you to take interest in my case and to use your skills to help the Obama government to achieve my release.

As a first step, I would ask that you take action with respect to their people who are being held as prisoners; action that would be acceptable to my captors so that they will allow my family to visit me. I think you can well-understand how important that is to me and how much it will do to help me to reestablish my good health.

If anyone in the administration, if anyone in the Obama government can understand my predicament, and the need for serious and straight-forward negotiation to obtain my freedom, it is yourself. Like Mr. Obama, you are also a family man. So I am asking you to please make the time and make the effort to take up my case and to negotiate my release and reunite me with my family. I hope that one day soon I would be able to meet you as a free man and to thank you for your efforts.

I would now like to address the American media. I have appealed to President Obama and to the Secretary of State, Mr. Kerry, to take up my case. As I said to them, I was captured by al-Qaeda in mid-August 2011 and I am now over 72 years of age. It is over two years now that I have been captured and in captivity. I am therefore appealing to you as the American media, on the basis of human interest and on humanitarian basis, to focus the American public - its attention - and to focus American public opinion on my case, and to convince the Obama administration and President Obama and members of Congress that the American government should do everything it can in order to obtain my release.

You are often referred to as the fourth estate, and you are called the fourth estate because of the important role you play in shaping American policy along with the President, the rest of the executives, the Congress, and the judiciary. So I am pleading with you to take up my case and to sway President Obama and his administration and the members of Congress to have me release and reunited with my loved ones. I know full well that if you decide to do so the media can develop public opinion and create a ground swell that can move our government to action. I sincerely hope that you will do so on my behalf and on behalf of my family.

I am asking that you use every means available to you as journalists, as writers, as reporters, as TV and radio anchors, as editors, whatever position you have within the media, to actively keep my case before the American public. I am asking that you do everything that you can to mobilize public opinion to bring President Obama and his administration to take the necessary actions that will lead to my freedom, and to pursue negotiating my release effectively and as quickly as possible.

I would also like to appeal to the American public, and I would like to ask my fellow Americans to use every possible social media channel such as Twitter, Facebook, in order to mount a campaign to convince President Obama and to persuade him and his government to discuss and get my release.

Now, I would also like to address my family. I would like them to know that I love them very much and I think about each and every one of them every moment of every day of my captivity. I would like to ask my family, my wife, my two daughters, my son-in-law, and any interested and concerned family and friends not to give up hope, and to work as hard as they can to get the media to keep my story and my situation active before the American public, and also to continue to get President Obama and his administration to actively pursue negotiations for my release. Please also do everything you can to work with the local and with the national media, newspapers, public radio and television, the regular radio and television, networks, magazines, journals, social media, any and all of them, to have them write and talk about my case and my plight. I understand this is not easy, and I know that doing so will take its toll on each of you, but in the final analysis, unless you continue to try to get President Obama and his administration to actively pursue my release, we may never see each other again.

I continue to pray to God that one day you will be successful and that the leaders of our government, and our government, will come to realize that they owe it to themselves and they owe it us to work to gain my freedom and for us to be reunited.


October 3, 2013

My name is Warren Weinstein. I am 72 years old and have been a prisoner of Al Qada since Mid-August 2011. I was born July 3, 1944 and was taken prisoner while working as a consultant in Pakistan. I have a heart condition and acute asthma. My wife, Elaine, lives in Rockville, Maryland in the Aspen Hill area.

I am a former college professor in the New York State University system where I taught the Oswego State college campus. I am also a former Peace Corps country director (Togo, Ivory Coast) and worked for more than tan seven years at USAID and then at the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group. I have been a consultant since 2003.

I spent much of the 1970's working on and teaching the protection of human rights. I also worked on ethnic conflict and have published in both subjects. I am also one of the founders of the Human Rights Internet, a journal I started with Laurie Wiseberg.

I have appealed several times to President Obama to help me but to no avail. I am therefore writing now to the media to ask that you help me to gain my release and rejoin my family - my wife, two daughters, two grandchildren and my son-in-law. I am hoping that you will take up my case on a human interest and humanitarian basis, and that you can help my family and me to convince President Obama to take action to negotiate my release. I am certain my wife and family can provide you with information about me.

I hope that the media can mount a campaign to get the American Government to actively pursue my release and to make sure that I am not forgotten and just become another statistic. Given my age and my health I don't have time on my side.

I realize that you have many people asking you take up their cause; yet, I hope you will find my case worthy of your attention and time.

I want to thank you in advance for everything you can do to keep my case before the American public and to sway the Government to take positive action on my behalf. I believe that if they negotiate in good faith with my captors I could be released - hopefully before time and my age end the issue.

Cordially yours,
Warren Weinstein.


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