Man Pleads for President Obama's Help in Al Qaeda Video

Video released by al-Qaeda reportedly shows U.S. citizen Warren Weinstein asking President Obama for help.
3:00 | 12/26/13

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Transcript for Man Pleads for President Obama's Help in Al Qaeda Video
This is a special group. And then that's -- New York with this ABC news digital special reports an American hostage are captive of al-Qaeda made a public appeal for his release today. New but unconfirmed video released by the terrorist group reportedly shows -- year old American citizen Warren Weinstein in captivity. The -- was working on behalf of US -- bout was taking captive back in 2011. And today. He made his appeal not to be forgotten CBC's Susan song joins us now with more from Washington Susan. Good afternoon -- this morning we've learned that the State Department has reiterated its calls. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Addressing this that you -- president of a desperate plea from captivity straight to the White House and proof for the first time in over a year. That kidnapped American Warren Weinstein. A 72 year old development expert from -- -- Maryland. May be alive Weinstein was kidnapped more than two musical while working for US aid and living in the Pakistani city of Lahore. Since then US officials believe he's been take into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The terror breeding grounds along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. American officials also believe Weinstein is being held directly by Al qaeda's new leader Ayman Al zawahiri. The State Department hasn't confirmed the authenticity of the video al-Qaeda released -- of the Washington Post and other journalists late yesterday. It is unclear exactly when the video was made Weinsteins home is desperate an urgent he suffers from a heart condition and may no longer be in good health. Al-Qaeda also released this letter allegedly handwritten by Weinstein -- given my age and my health I don't have time on my side. Weinstein also addressed secretary of state John Kerry and members of the media directly. So. Pleading with you to pick up my case. It this way president bill bone in his administration and members of congress. At least. Weinstein the last two words in the thirteen minute video worked to his family. He asked them not to give up hope. In a surprise revelation there ABC's -- only in Washington says thank you for that. For more on this I want to bring -- ABC's hardly left in London and the -- just give us kind of a background on this because he's been in captivity for two years. And yet it seems as if this is almost been forgotten about. Well you make -- very good point -- you know he has been in captivity now for more than two years. And this is not a case that makes headlines every day so a lot of Americans may be scratching their heads and saying. Warren Weinstein their -- sounds familiar. Well the reason it's familiar is because as we just on that package she's been in captivity now for more than two and a half years. And he's actually it's actually believe that he's in -- being -- captivity being held directly by. The head of al-Qaeda any medals -- -- this shows just how pry high profile this case is. In in in some circles as believes it's a -- is holding him directly. This is a person who was living in Pakistan in 2011. He was working for US aid at the time as a contractor working on some development projects. When -- literally stormed into his house. Pulled -- -- -- -- -- threw -- to a car and drove them off and ever since that happened -- No one's -- heard a word firm other than these this video that we have today in the video. He came out last here. But other than that there's no indication that officials -- anywhere close to finding out. Exactly where he has and that its -- that was taken last year but I want to play a little bit about what he said this year about his capture. Nine years ago. I came to Pakistan to help make up. I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here. You know I need my government. It seems there have been totally. You are now. All of your second term as president that you. That means that you can take -- decisions. Without worrying about -- It's an interest in appeal Mohammed -- taking into consideration the political situation. In Washington right now. Well absolutely you know this is not the first time that he's appealed directly to the president. Out last year in the video that al-Qaeda released he said effectively. If you agree to my captors demand -- will live and if you do not agree to them I will die. Those were his words that -- said last year President Obama obviously as far as we know on the surface there's been no movement Warren Weinstein remains in captivity. And that's why this videos being released today. Of course what's really interesting about this stand. Is -- when you compare both of the videos look at the video of him last year he was sitting with a plate of food in front of pain he was sitting with books in front of him. There's a clear attempt on behalf of his captors to make it look as though he was being treated in a humane and civilized manner. Fast forward to that video that's been released today. And of course Warren Weinstein has a very long scraggly beard a graying beard shaved the mustache. Very similar to the G Heidi -- -- -- that you would see on al-Qaeda members around the world. Today he's speaking a little bit slower he looks a little bit more depressed and he refers to his own health in fact saying himself. He may not have much time left what it is certainly when you see the side by side of those videos -- it certainly begs the question. How much of that message is his own how much is it being driven by his captors. Not Mohammed what do we know about his whereabouts is captivity -- to do do we believe that he's been moved around ordered held in the same spot. Show -- we know is that he was taken captive from his home in -- which is Pakistan's second largest city. It is a widely believed in US officials -- commented on this many times. They believe the Weinstein is being kept somewhere in the region along the Afghanistan Pakistan border sometimes this is called -- lawless region. And and that's not exactly true it's there's no law there. It's that you know according to Pakistan's own constitution those areas are ruled by tribal law or in some cases -- -- law. And Afghan in Pakistan's courts essentially had no -- no jurisdiction there. And it's in large part because of that that a lot of terrorists safe havens -- open up there. The government of Afghanistan has complained several times about terrorist safe havens that -- are in Pakistan. That allow terrorists to move back and forth across the border quite frequently. The Pakistani military doesn't even have a strong presence there. Let alone any kind of foreign military presence so you know it's very difficult for US officials to pinpoint exactly where he -- It it's not as though this is you know Afghanistan where American troops have been there for more than ten years -- -- on the Pakistani side of the border. There are no American troops on the -- on the Pakistani side of the border. Which effectively means that you know unless. The Pakistani military goes in or some kind of intelligence agency goes in. And get some information. It's it's almost like a black hole where we just don't know enough about what's going on. You -- -- in the relationship I was in between Pakistan the United States being reviewed specifically based on video like this coming to light. This particular area though is also believed to be where al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahri is suspected -- being correct. Sure and you know that's certainly flies in the face of claims by -- officials that. Al-Qaeda has been decimated. Clearly if they can still hold an American hostage captive. For more than two years and have the ability to release these propaganda videos -- -- question just whether or not al-Qaeda has been decimated. Whether they still have a foothold in this part of the world. And and that's what we know so far I mean the fact that Al qaeda's leader I middles -- winery has implied that he's holding Warren Weinstein. Very closely perhaps even directly. It is is is very troubling because you and you're not dealing with a lower level. In the hierarchy of this -- Terrell of this big terrorist organization. You're dealing with the very top level of that hierarchy. And you know their demands are very. Very strong they're calling for the release of all detainees. At Guantanamo Bay -- calling for an end to all drone strikes in Pakistan Afghanistan Yemen. Essentially cross the entire world now these are demands and in the past the united -- is shown is simply unwilling to accept. What that means for Warren Weinstein whose future and his health twelve nobody can really -- And that with his video message there's a lot of components to it it is simply not just a matter of demanding his release and cooperation by the United States. But at the same time he also makes a personal appeal. To his family not to give up hope -- want to -- some of that. I would like them to know that I love him very much. I think about it each and every one of them. Every moment of every day of my captivity. I would like to ask my family. My way. My two daughters. Son in law. In -- in visiting concerned family and friends not to give up hope. It is a very personal appeal and it almost seems as if it's speaking to two audiences knowledge of the US government. And -- the Obama administration but also too should those that are that loved ones of him. Well you know and you alluded to this earlier how much of that video he wrote himself and how much was scripted and how -- she was told to read. We just don't know what we do know is that al-Qaeda is -- media wing. Is pretty slick when it comes to getting their message out they produce their own videos they have full graphics they have music they have. And things that they play. And and there are their up pretty savvy when it comes the timing of these billions. So you know how much of that was Weinsteins we don't know. One would assume certainly by by -- you know ports in portions of that video where you can see. His eyes wandering up and almost looks like he's gonna break down in tears and a couple of points that what he's saying is is being sent from the hard. Whether or not it was his decision to address President Obama and then secretary of state John Kerry or whether he was told to do that again we just don't know and you pointed out Mohammed at -- he -- -- first video appeal that we've seen and now this one. It does it seem to be is there's going to be a pattern in the following year 2014 if nothing were to change that we would be expecting a similar type of video. Well I -- it again we just don't know what we do know is that he's now 72 years old he's in frail health there were worries at one point that he might -- -- patches medication. -- first to his failing health himself in fact in that handwritten letter today. You refers to -- -- -- -- that that pleased. To the media intended to prevent him from being forgotten and becoming just another statistic. And he also says that given his -- and his health time is not on his side so how much longer he can remain in captivity. And just how well his captors are treating him we don't know. -- you mentioned about Pakistan Afghanistan I was at the differences in US presence there and the relationships certainly being under review right now. Have either of those countries said anything about eighty in the US for his return. Well you know officially on paper Pakistan is an ally of the United States and you know they've lost tens of thousands of their own soldiers in the war on terror. That's officially what we we know is that Americas operating a drone program in the northern part of Pakistan. In the same tribal region where it's believed Weinstein is being held. The pakistanis of protest in these drone strikes for more than a year now every time there's a drone strike the pakistanis protest. Some protests or maybe even -- the NATO supply route into Afghanistan which is basically vital for getting American equipment out of Afghanistan in time for the drawn down. Next year. So so it's not exactly a friendly relationships not an enemy relationship it's it's very complicated. There's a lot of Wheeling and dealing behind the scenes. And and the best term for it is that's not a friend it's not an enemy Pakistan is sometimes a friend in the as the United States hard to define pinpoint down -- -- situation -- He also had addressed the role of social media in his captivity. I would like to ask my fellow Americans. To use than it really possible. Social media channels. Messages Twitter. FaceBook. In order to mount -- campaign. To convince. President Obama. -- could persuade him and his government. To discuss. Now with -- -- is that all of this may play out for the world. On line instead of secret negotiations. You know hey Dan this is a very good point sometimes you get asked well. How is it that the Taliban are you know following social media. Again this goes back to the propaganda campaign are actually quite slick. The Taliban in Afghanistan certainly have their own spokespeople they have their own Twitter accounts. Between updates every day the same way that I sat or coalition forces tweet updates every day of what's happening in Afghanistan. They get their message out on FaceBook they have their own forums in fact the Afghan Taliban. Have their own Twitter account and -- follow a number of organizations and and to -- seven in total one of them is ABC news. So clearly there interstate in the way they're being portrayed overseas there interest -- getting their message out directly to the people possibly. Who knows maybe they just don't trust us to. You know get get the truth which we try to do very unbiased -- I should add. But this might be easier way of trying to get you know a campaign mobilized to get President Obama to talk directly with al-Qaeda and I should say for the record. We have no evidence that American officials have even been negotiating. With -- Qaeda in the first place the official policy is -- the united sees government. Does not negotiate with terrorists -- this might be kind of a last ditch plea on behalf of al-Qaeda. To take their message to ordinary Americans who feel some sympathy for Warren Weinstein to get some kind of social media movement off the ground in get rolling. Whether or not it was gonna listen to that plea. We just don't know. And -- some says as we've seen before that it that social media and any kind of online presence can sometimes complicate any kind of negotiations and certainly. Put a very different spin on the relationships between countries. Would be between between the Taliban it it's in its interest in -- exactly what kind of development this is gonna generate. Lastly the before we let you go -- -- asking the US is obviously negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan what is the likelihood -- forbidden US to negotiate for for his relief. For Weinsteins release. You know I think today we we got a statement from not a spokesperson for -- state from the State Department. Who once again called on Warren Weinstein to be released to be sent home in pointing out that this is yet another holiday season that he's been away from his family. If you look it -- on the surface. What -- Qaeda is asking for. Our our our demands the United States simply would not meet they would not release all prisoners from Guantanamo Bay they would not struck this. Drone strike program which in many cases is proven to be. And effective way of in mobilizing terrorist threats without risking any American soldiers. Whether or not there's any middle ground there. A lot of these discussions often happen behind the scenes and we may not find out until after. Hopefully one -- Warren Weinstein is released. Exactly how it all came to be. The looking into crystal ball and predicting for 2014. Is very difficult some people were worried when Weinstein was originally taken captive that he only had months left because he may not have had his medication. Well it's now been more than two years. But the clock is certainly taking. Clicking in this very latest development ABC's on a -- in London on a thank you so much for that we appreciate it. Of course we -- a complete recap right here on For non -- Cutler and New York with this ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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