NEW YORK (JTA) — The leader of al-Qaida took credit for the kidnapping of a 70-year-old American aid worker in Pakistan.
In a video posted on militant websites, Ayman al-Zawahiri claimed responsibility for the Aug. 19 capture of Warren Weinstein from his home in the Pakistani city of Lahore. Weinstein, of Rockville, Md., is the director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S. firm that advises a range of Pakistani businesses.
“I tell the captive soldiers of al-Qaida and the Taliban and our female prisoners held in the prisons of the crusaders and their collaborators: ‘We have not forgotten you, and in order to free you we have taken hostage the Jewish American Warren Weinstein,’ ” Zawahiri said in the 30-minute video, which was translated by the nonprofit Site Monitoring Service.
Zawahiri, who assumed leadership in June after Osama bin Laden was shot and killed by U.S. Navy Seals, demanded that Israel ends its “siege” of Gaza; that the U.S. stop its airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen; and that all al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners be released.
He said Weinstein’s relatives must pressure President Obama to meet his demands “if you want to bring back your relative.”
A police official said Aug. 23 that three suspects had been arrested, according to CNN.
J.E. Austin Associates said that Weinstein is in poor health, including a weak heart, and provided a list of medications that it pleaded with his kidnappers to provide.