Thursday, December 1, 2011

Al-Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Kidnapping Aid Worker Warren Weinstein

According to a claim disseminated on the Internet, al-Qaeda has reportedly taken credit for the kidnapping of US aid worker Warren Weinstein, 70, and demanded the release of prisoners and an end to air strikes in Muslim countries in exchange for his freedom. Weinstein, an employee of a US contracting firm, was kidnapped from his home in Lahore in August by several gunmen.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri also said in an audio recording issued on Islamic websites late on Thursday (December 1) that a senior al Qaeda leader based in Pakistan apparently known as Attiyatullah had been killed in a US air strike in August. "Just as the Americans detain all whom they suspect of links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, even remotely, we detained this man who has had an active part in American aid to Pakistan since the seventies," Zawahri was quoted as saying.

COMMENT: Weinstein, who at one time worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), was kidnapped just before he was permanently scheduled to return to the US, suggesting that his abductors had been well aware of his movements and travel plans just prior to the kidnapping.

In his audio statement, Zawahri said that al-Qaeda's demands for Weinstein's release included the release of all those held by the United States at the Guantanamo detention center and all others imprisoned for ties to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. He also demanded an end to air strikes by the United States and its allies against militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia and Gaza. Zawahri was succeeded Osama bin Laden, who was killed in an operation by US Navy SEALs in Pakistan on May 2, after a decade-long worldwide hunt.

Until such time as al-Qaeda produces evidence that they have Mr. Weinstein in custody, Zawahri's rhetoric can only be viewed as a disinformation campaign designed to further torment the Weinstein family and frustrate US officials who are seeking the aid worker's release.

Surely al-Qaeda is sophisticated enough to understand that the US has not made concessions to terrorists in exchange for kidnapped US officials in more than 41 years. Hence, it is highly unlikely that the US will meet al-Qaeda's unreasonable demands. The first order of business; however, is to provide proof that Weinstein is alive and has been well-cared for.

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