Family of Jewish hostage killed in US drone attack disappointed in Obama

Family of al-Qaeda-held Jewish hostage killed by a US strike slams “inconsistent and disappointing” White House policy.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

The family of Warren Weinstein, a Jewish hostage held by al-Qaeda terrorists who was killed in a US drone strike in January, expressed disappointment over Washington’s conduct regarding the event.

On Thursday, Weinstein’s wife Elaine released a statement thanking her congressional delegation from the state of Maryland and a number of people in the FBI for their “relentless efforts to free my husband.” However, she added: “Unfortunately, the assistance we received from other elements of the US government was inconsistent and disappointing over the course of three and a half years.”

“We hope that my husband’s death and the others who have faced similar tragedies in recent months will finally prompt the US government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families,” the statement read.

She said the family was devastated.

Warren Weinstein

Weinstein’s home in Rockville, Md., with flowers and ribbon on a tree outside the house. (AP/Jose Luis Magana)

“We were so hopeful that those in the US and Pakistani governments with the power to take action and secure his release would have done everything possible to do so, and there are no words to do justice to the disappointment and heartbreak we are going through,” she said.

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“But those who took Warren captive over three years ago bear ultimate responsibility. I can assure you that he would still be alive and well if they had allowed him to return home after his time abroad working to help the people of Pakistan.”

Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-R) complained about a lack of government coordination between agencies.

“Warren Weinstein did not have to die,” he said in a statement. “His death is further evidence of the failures in communication and coordination between government agencies tasked with recovering Americans in captivity — and the fact that he’s dead, as a result, is absolutely tragic.”

Earlier on Thursday, President Barack Obama apologized and took responsibility for the deaths of American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto in a January CIA strike on an al-Qaeda compound along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The White House said compensation would be paid to the Weinstein and Lo Porto families.

Weinstein, 73, was an international development worker whose family described him as passionate about helping people out of poverty.

He was working in Pakistan on a contract with the US Agency for International Development. He lived in Pakistan from 2004 until his abduction in 2011, four days before the end of his seven-year assignment.

While working in that country, Weinstein wore traditional Pakistani garments and spoke Urdu.

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He was “focused on helping Pakistani families escape poverty and have a better life for their children,” Obama said at the White House. Elaine Weinstein also blamed the Pakistani government for not doing more to help.

“Warren’s safe return should have been a priority for them, based on his contributions to their country, but they failed to take action earlier in his captivity when opportunity presented itself, instead treating Warren’s captivity as more of an annoyance than a priority,” she said. “I hope the nature of our future relationship with Pakistan is reflective of how they prioritize situations such as these.”

Weinstein appeared in a video in late 2013, appealing to Obama to negotiate his release. It was impossible to tell whether or not the statement was scripted by his captors.

“Nine years ago I came to Pakistan to help my government, and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here, and now when I need my government it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten,” he said during the 13-minute video. “And so I again appeal to you to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release.”