Zawahiri claims al Qaeda is holding US citizen hostage
In addition to announcing the death of senior al Qaeda leader Atiyah And al Rahman today, Ayman al Zawahiri claimed that al Qaeda is holding Warren Weinstein, an American citizen and former USAID employee who was kidnapped in Lahore four months ago. From Zawahiri's statement, which has been translated by the SITE Intelligence Group:
As for the message of support and steadfastness, it is a message to our captives among the soldiers of al Qaeda and the Taliban, and to our oppressed captive women in the prisons of the Crusaders and their henchmen. I say to them, we did not forget you and we will never forget you, with permission from Allah. In order to release you, Allah the Great and Almighty guided us to capture the American Jew Warren Weinstein, a former employee contracted with the American government in its aid program for Pakistan that aims to fight the jihad in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Just as the Americans detain all whom they suspect of links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, even remotely, we detained this man who is neck-deep in American aid to Pakistan since the seventies.
Zawahiri has made the following demands (summarized below) of the US and Israel in order to obtain the release of Weinstein:
1. Open the border between Egypt and Gaza.
2. Halt US and Israeli airstrikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Gaza.
3. Release all Qaeda and Taliban prisoners, "even if they were handed over to another country, like Abu Musab al Suri."
4. Close Guantanamo "and the secret American prisons."
5. Release Sayyid Nosair and Ramzi Yousef, "and those with them."
6. Release Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who is better know as the Blind Sheikh.
7. Release Osama bin Laden's family.
8. Release female al Qaeda operatives, such as Aafia Siddiqui and Hasna, "the widow of Abu Hamza al Muhajir," the former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq who is also known as Abu Ayyub al Masri.