Al-Qaeda Addresses Message to Family of U.S. Hostage Warren Weinstein
Al-Qaeda (AQ) addressed a message to the family of Warren Weinstein—a former American USAID worker kidnapped in Lahore, Pakistan in August 2011—telling them that the U.S. government has not made any "serious efforts" for his release and that it wants him to die in their possession.
In a message published in Arabic and English, and released on jihadi forums on August 13, 2014, AQ stated that it is not interested in retaining Weinstein, but it seeks to swap him with other prisoners. It warned his family:
Your continued silence on the inaction of your government will only lead to your prisoner dying a lonely death in prison after this deliberate and prolonged neglect on the part of your government. Therefore, if you want Warren Weinstein to be released, do whatever you can to pressurize your government.
AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri also addressed Weinstein's family when he claimed the group's responsibility for the capture in December 2011. He stated, "Do not believe [President Obama]. He might say to you: I am doing all that I can to release your relative. Do not believe him."
Zawahiri also demanded that in order to release him, the U.S. must stop its drone strikes and release Muslims prisoners such as the "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdul Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, Sayyid Nosair, and the family of Usama bin Laden. Weinstein's last appearance came in a video released by AQ's as-Sahab Media Foundation in December 2013, where he appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the American public and media, to negotiate for his release.
Katz: "This message is an attempt to manipulate the American public to pressure the administration with the question, 'Why Bergdahl and not Weinstein?'"
"The release of Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity likely motivated al-Qaeda to try for the same results with Weinstein," says SITE Intelligence Group Director Rita Katz. "This message is an attempt to manipulate the American public to pressure the administration with the question, 'Why Bergdahl and not Weinstein?'"
AQ affiliates have expressed surprise and inspiration from Bergdahl's exchange for five Taliban members. In a video speech released on August 12, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) official Ibrahim al-Rubeish stated, "Who would have ever thought that the American pride would break in front of the demands of the mujahideen! America sought to rescue only one soldier in return for the release of five Taliban leaders."
Following is a copy of the August 13, 2014 message along with it's accompanying images:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
A Message from Qa'eda al-Jihad for the Family of the Prisoner, Warren Weinstein
The organization of Qa'eda al-Jihad would like to clarify the following for the family of the prisoner, Warren Weinstein:
- Your government wants Warren Weinstein to die in prison so that it may absolve itself of responsibility regarding his case.
- Your government has not made any serious efforts for the release of the prisoner.
- Your government has not contacted us for his release.
- We are not interested in retaining the prisoner in our protection; we are only seeking to exchange him in return for the fulfilment of our demands that we have conveyed.
- With the permission of Allah, we will not spare any efforts for the release of our prisoners who have been imprisoned by your government for no guilt except that they had acted in defense of the Muslim Ummah against the oppression of the American government.
- Your continued silence on the inaction of your government will only lead to your prisoner dying a lonely death in prison after this deliberate and prolonged neglect on the part of your government.
- Therefore, if you want Warren Weinstein to be released, do whatever you can to pressurize your government.
Qa'eda al Jihad
Shawal 1435 (August 2014)