KABUL – Al Qaeda has released a new video of American hostage Warren Weinstein delivering a personal message to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.
In the video, Weinstein, 71, believed to be held in the tribal regions along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, appears healthy and calm, speaking in a soft, controlled manner.
"Unfortunately President Obama and the American government have shown no interest in my case," Weinstein says in the video, seated on a chair with his back slightly slouched, wearing a thin white t-shirt.
"Therefore, as a Jew, I'm appealing to you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, the head of the Jewish state of Israel, one Jew to another, to please intervene on my behalf."
Weinstein, a former Peace Corps and USAID official, was kidnapped from his home in an upscale neighborhood in Lahore in August 2011 after gunmen tricked his security guard into letting them enter the premises. At the time, Weinstein was working as the country director for J.E. Austin Associates, a consultancy firm whose website states its goal is to "improve productivity, to enhance competitiveness, to strengthen management and strategy implementation, and to facilitate economic development." According to the website, the company works with government and non-government organizations.
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri first claimed that al Qaeda was holding Weinstein in a December 2011 audio message, and implied that he would use his hostage as a bargaining chip to free "captive soldiers of al Qaeda." "[President] Obama has the power, capacity and authority to free [Weinstein]," said Zawahiri. "He could also leave him in captivity for years, and if he does something stupid, kill him." In March, Zawahiri demanded the release of Pakistani doctor Aafia Siddiqui, "blind sheikh" Omar Abdel-Rahman and members of Osama bin Laden's family in return for Weinstein.
In May, Al Qaeda released another video of Weinstein, in which he appealed directly to President Obama to intervene for his release. He said his captors' demands included an end to U.S. airstrikes, and the release of Al Qaeda members in prison.
"My life is in your hands, Mr. President," Warren Weinstein says in the video, which was released. "If you accept the demands, I live. If you don't accept the demands, then I die. It's important that you accept the demands and act quickly and don't delay."
"I've done a lot of service for my country, and I would hope that my country will now look after me and take care of me and meet the demands of the mujahedeen."