Tags: Afghanistan | Al-Qaida | Barack Obama | War on Terrorism | Warren Weinstein | hostage | al-Qaida

CNN: Family of US Hostage Slain in Drone Strike Had Paid Ransom

By    |   Friday, 24 Apr 2015 07:17 PM

A frustrating effort to free al-Qaida hostage Warren Weinstein began in 2012 when his family privately paid a ransom — but then went public after a videotape surfaced in which the dejected captive said he felt "forgotten and abandoned," CNN reports.

The family of the USAID worker turned to their local Maryland congressmen and took to the airwaves to press for his rescue, CNN reports.

"We focused on making sure that the capabilities of the government was well coordinated," Maryland Rep. John Delaney — who joined forces with Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin in efforts to free Weinstein — tells CNN. "The government is a bureaucracy, and you have to make sure that it's working."

But it didn't work.

Weinstein was inadvertently killed in a drone strike in January, and Delaney tells CNN he'll push for more reforms that'll make government agencies more effective at finding and freeing Americans from terrorists' clutches.

The Weinstein family's story, CNN reports, is particularly heart-wrenching.

The family paid money — the amount has not been disclosed — to his captors in 2012, an unnamed Pakistani source who was in contact with the terrorists tells CNN.

But the captors didn't release Weinstein, and instead demanded prisoners be released in exchange, including Islamic jihadist Aafia Siddiqui, now serving an 86-year sentence in the United States, CNN reports.

Meanwhile, kidnappers who initially described themselves as "Afghans" were apparently replaced by militants who connected themselves with acts of terrorism, including the ISIS beheading of American James Foley, CNN reports.

Weinstein's captors told the source "the Iraqis" were asking for the American and that they were preparing an "orange suit" for him — a reference to the outfit victims have worn when ISIS militants murdered them, CNN reports.

And when the Taliban released Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal, a militant bragged to the CNN source that he'd been one of of the soldier's kidnappers.

But the daily calls to the CNN source suddenly stopped in early April, CNN reports.

For their part, Weinstein's family — initially reluctant to take their case to Congress — switched course in late 2013 and looked to the government for help after a video of their loved one, who looked frail and sick, showed him saying he felt "totally abandoned and forgotten" by his country, CNN reports.

"Unfortunately, the assistance we received from other elements of the U.S. government was inconsistent and disappointing over the course of three-and-a-half years," Elaine Weinstein said in a statement Thursday.

"We hope that my husband's death and the others who have faced similar tragedies in recent months will finally prompt the U.S. government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families."

Delaney added in his own statement he was "saddened, disappointed, and outraged that our government was not able to bring Warren home," but in an interview with CNN pointed the finger at a disjointed system.

He told CNN he wants the government to streamline the efforts of various agencies and countries in the region that help the United States find American hostages.

"I think that every single American wants any American held hostage returned," Delaney said, CNN reports. "There's tremendous support to do more."

On Friday, Elaine Weinstein issued a statement saying she has "been moved by the tremendous outpouring of support from around the world."

"We appreciate the sympathy and condolences we have received from those who knew the Warren we loved so much as well as those who did not," the statement said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of others who have been taken hostage around the world as they endure these terrible ordeals."

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A frustrating effort to free al-Qaida hostage Warren Weinstein began in 2012 when his family privately paid a ransom — but then went public after a videotape surfaced in which the dejected captive said he felt "forgotten and abandoned," CNN reports.
Warren Weinstein, hostage, al-Qaida, family, slain, drone, strike, paid, ransom
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2015-17-24
Friday, 24 Apr 2015 07:17 PM
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