The White House revealed Thursday morning that two hostages, American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto, were accidentally killed in a drone strike against an al Qaeda compound in the Afghan/Pakistani border. Weinstein’s death is the first accidental killing of a hostage by a U.S. drone.
The January drone strike reportedly also killed American al Qaeda leader Ahmed Farouq. In an address from the White House President Barack Obama said he took “full responsibility” for the deaths of the hostages.
Weinstein was working for the Arlington, VA-based contracting firm J.E. Austin Associates, a USAID contractor working in Pakistan. He was abducted from his Lahore home on August 13, 2011, when al Qaeda members posed as neighbors to gain entry into his home. According to a rundown from the Daily Beast, Weinstein was on his way out of Pakistan that day, his bags literally packed, when al Qaeda kidnapped him.
Per the Beast:
Through the 1970s, Weinstein was a tenured professor in the political science department at SUNY Oswego, a position he left to go to work for USAID. There, Weinstein focused on fostering economic growth in developing countries.
…Weinstein also holds a Ph.D. in international law and economics from Columbia University, and is able to communicate in half a dozen foreign languages, including the Urdu spoken by most Pakistanis.
Weinstein pled for rescue in two proof of life videos released by Al-Sahab in May of 2012 and December of 2013, in the latter saying he felt “totally abandoned and forgotten.” However his video contained demands that the Obama administration negotiate for the release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, which the United States refused to do. Tragically, he also voiced a demand that the U.S. end airstrikes against al Qaeda. Watch the 2013 video below, via Washington Post:
38-year-old humanitarian worker Giovanni Lo Porto was abducted by al Qaeda in Multan, Pakistan, on January 19, 2012. Per the Guardian:
After graduating from the peace and conflict studies course at London Met in 2010, Lo Porto, an experienced aid worker, joined short-term projects in the Central African Republic and Haiti before travelling to Pakistan to help rebuild an area hit by severe flooding.
According to friends, he fell in love with the region and worked to improve water supplies and sanitation in the Punjab, returning again at the beginning of 2012.
Lo Porto was abducted along with a German colleague. According to the New York Times, the two were providing aid to Pakistanis recovering from 2010 flooding, and were taken by masked gunmen at their house one evening. His German colleague was seen in a proof of life video a year later, but not Lo Porto.
[Image via screengrabs]
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