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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.



READER COMMENTS: "Zawahiri claims al Qaeda is holding US citizen hostage"

Posted by Gomax at December 1, 2011 7:25 PM ET:

Well obviously those demands cannot be met. They are a negotiating ploy at best, or just a way to draw attention to grievances.

Apparently Mr Weinstein headed up the Pakistan office for consulting firm J.E. Austin Associates, Inc. The company was working on US Agency for International Development (USAID) projects – part of the major investment American taxpayers have made in Pakistan.

As far as we can tell, this man was involved in contributing positively to the benefit of Pakistanis, not participating in war activities. Unfortunately war is a nasty business, and even the innocent can be victims.

Wishing for the best outcome, in this difficult time.

Posted by Mirage at December 1, 2011 7:42 PM ET:

Seems like he's putting so much on just one American citizen, interesting

Posted by Knighthawk at December 1, 2011 8:09 PM ET:

Talk about unrealistic demands, sure we'll get right on that list.

Posted by adam at December 1, 2011 8:58 PM ET:

I'm sick of Al-Qaeda holding all of these ransoms on us. They get 1 American and we get dozens of tangos, and because they get 1, they feel like they have the upper hand. I think its time we played hard ball. For every day that they hold Warren Weinstein, one of their beloved "freedom fighters" in our custody will die. Dark? Yes, but they're playing the same game on us, and their demands are way too radical to meet. Would we rather get Weinstein back on our terms, or have a ton of tangos headed back to kill more American troops? And besides, we don't actually have to kill them, the gov can say they're doing it, when they're not, and when we get Weinstein back, "phsych! We didn't lay a finger on the prisoners, but thanks for giving him back."

Posted by gerald at December 1, 2011 8:59 PM ET:

Sure, that's gonna happen!

Posted by Nic at December 1, 2011 10:34 PM ET:

A little help please: " 7. Release Osama bin Laden's family. " Which bin Laden family members are being detained and where? Why are they being detained?

Posted by Fred at December 1, 2011 11:07 PM ET:

That's not a list of demands. That's an excuse to behead him on television.

Posted by Paul at December 2, 2011 6:43 AM ET:

Captured in Lahore!

No where in Pakistan is safe for Westerners.

We have troops on the ground in Afghanistan but the MAIN problem in next door in Pakistan and Iran!

Posted by Bob at December 2, 2011 8:59 AM ET:

OBL's family are being held by Pakistan. Pakistan fears that if they are released they could talk to the press or to a foreign intelligence agency and reveal that OBL's location was well known for years by the Pakistan Army.

Posted by BraddS at December 2, 2011 9:12 AM ET:

Gee, who in ISI tipped the bad guys to where and how to find Mr. Weinstein?

Posted by mike merlo at December 2, 2011 12:09 PM ET:

Simple solution. For everyone of the identified enemy we need to target their families, friends & relatives. No mercy. This tactic is one of the few they fear & kowtow to.

Posted by Charu at December 2, 2011 1:39 PM ET:

Nice to see how Zawahiri is concerned about the "daughter of Pakistan", Aafiya Siddiqui, who the Pakistanis, including their Prime Minister, have repeatedly assured us is the innocent representative of their finest womanhood.

Posted by Stephanie at December 2, 2011 2:09 PM ET:

Bob,

I remember reading on the Long War Journal that his wives and children were released.

Can we clear this up? Are they still being held? Personally, I felt like Pakistan holding them was more like protective custody than jail.

Posted by Bungo at December 2, 2011 3:58 PM ET:

Either Zawahiri is losing his grip on reality or he's an idiot. He HAS to know that we'll never even consider his ludicrous terms. So that makes me wonder why he would break video silence for this one captive. Is he merely trying to assert his position in AlQueda? Curious. What's his game?

Posted by mike merlo at December 2, 2011 4:37 PM ET:

re:doubters
Bhutto's own mother warned her to beware of Zadari. She had strong circumstantial & emperical proof that Zadari was involved in the murder's of one of her son's (Bhutto's brother). Bhutto's mother also told her that Zadari had no scruples about murdering her. 'Render' Zadari's his children & he will crumble.

Zawahiri might be that exception to the exception. He kinda reminds me of that Thugee from Gunga Din that jumped in the cobra pit.

Posted by Stephanie at December 2, 2011 11:04 PM ET:

Bungo,

I agree ... and Ayman al Zawahiri has said things before that lacked logic.

For example, in a video eulogizing UBL he said that UBL had always been careful to uphold the ethics that the Americans had violated in shooting him, and went on to tell a story (whether it's true or not) about an incident where he and his mujahidin had agreed on a ceasefire with the "hypocrites" and UBL ordered his people to uphold the ceasefire and they didn't shoot anyone except those who violated the ceasefire. So if you think about it, sharing this story in that context makes absolutely no sense since it was a completely unequivalent situation to the one where UBL was killed - when he was killed there was no ceasefire!!

Now obviously the point of sharing this story was for propoganda purposes - to make UBL look ethical and possibly to use this story about a ceasefire to also make him seem capable and brave and willing to fight the "hypocrites" to sort of erase the relevant incident of his death where - according to what I've read - he didn't resist the "hypocrites".

I think a lot of AQ's propoganda is intended to deceive the average Muslims in the Middle East ... not as much for the benefit of the West (since Americans aren't ever going to change their views on AQ!) So, going back to this new video, I wonder if Dr. Ayman's purpose in these illogical terms is for the benefit of presenting some kind of propoganda to the Islamic World, such as making it seem as though AQ has the upper hand. And a lot of people if they don't really think things through logically could be easily swayed and led astray by AQ's propoganda, especially if they start out from a position of animosity towards the West.