The family of an elderly American man kidnapped in Pakistan by al Qaeda more than two years ago said today that after seeing the new video of him pleading for help, they want him to know that he has not been forgotten.
Warren Weinstein's wife told ABC News' David Muir in an exclusive interview today of the pain she and her two daughters felt when they saw him say in a recently released video that he felt abandoned.
"I wanted to die right there on the spot," Elaine Weinstein said. "Because he has no idea how hard we've tried to get him back. But there's nothing to do to get him back, because they don't tell you really what they want. I'd like to think that somebody can rescue him."
The 72-year-old man was working as a consultant in Lahore, Pakistan, helping with community projects to improve the economy when gunmen stormed into his apartment and took him captive more than two years ago, his family said.
In the tape released this week, Warren Weistein looks into the camera with an appeal to President Obama. He wants to come home.
In the video, released by Al Qaeda's media wing, Weinstein is seen wearing a grey jump suit slouching in a chair, with a grey wall behind him. He asks Obama to negotiate directly for his release.
"Mr. Obama, you're a family man," Weinstein says. "You understand the deep mental anxiety and anguish that I have been experiencing for these past more than two years. And therefore I'm 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."
It's the first proof of life video of Weinstein in more than a year when Al Qaeda released a similar video. In that video, Weinstein suggested he would be killed unless the U.S. government met his captors' demands, which included releasing all prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. They also demanded an end to all U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.
Unlike the previous video, the one this week shows Weinstein sporting a thick graying beard and trimmed moustache. It's not possible to determine the state of Weinstein's health from the video alone, but he appears forlorn, his eyes watering at several points, admitting he's not in good health and that "the years have taken their toll."
The video was emailed anonymously to a handful of reporters in Pakistan, along with a letter that was allegedly written by Weinstein himself. In the letter, he asks the media to "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."
The letter is signed "Cordially yours, Warren Weinstein."
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki released a statement saying, "We're working hard to authenticate this latest report, but we reiterate our call that Warren Weinstein be released and returned to his family. Particularly during this holiday season - another one away from his family - our hopes and prayers are with him and those who love and miss him."
Weinstein was working as a contractor for USAID in 2011 when gunmen broke into his home in the Pakistani city of Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city. U.S. officials have long believed he was quickly spirited away to the lawless tribal region along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. In previous audio tapes, Al Qaeda's new leader , Ayman Al Zawahiri, implied that he was directly holding Weinstein captive.