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American Al-Qaeda captive Warren Weinstein seeks Obama's help
An elderly American man kidnapped and believed to be held captive by Al Qaeda for more than two years has a direct message for PresidentObama: He wants to come home.
Warren Weinstein, 72, delivered the message in a new video released by Al Qaeda's media wing. Weinstein, who suffers from a heart condition and requires medication, 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, today's video 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.