ISLAMABAD — An American development consultant abducted by Al Qaeda in Pakistan more than two years ago has urged President Obama to help secure his freedom in an impassioned video message released by the group.
The consultant, Warren Weinstein, 72, was abducted from the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore in August 2011 when armed men broke into his house. Weinstein worked as the Pakistan director for J. E. Austin Associates, an international development consulting company based in Arlington, Va.
The video was released by Al Sahab, Al Qaeda’s media wing.
In a 13-minute video message, Weinstein, bearded and wearing a light-colored jacket and a dark cap, appeared distraught and dejected when he spoke about his family, his ill health, and his time in captivity.
“I am not in good health,” he said. “The years have taken their toll.” Weinstein said he had served his country for 30 years and that nine years ago he came to Pakistan to help the US government.
“I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here,” he said. “And now, when I need my government, it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten.”
Weinstein said his captors agreed to let him meet with his family if members of Al Qaeda held by the United States were released.
“Mr. Obama, you are a family man and so you understand the deep mental anxiety and anguish that I have been experiencing for these past more than two years,” he said. “I am therefore appealing to you on a humanitarian basis, if nothing else, and asking that you take the necessary actions to expedite my release and my return to my family and to my country, to our country.”
He also asked Secretary of State John F. Kerry for help.
A handwritten letter, purportedly drafted by Weinstein, was also distributed along with the video message to media outlets. It was dated Oct. 3, 2013.
This was his second video statement. A video in which he made a similar plea was released by Al Qaeda in 2012.
Weinstein’s kidnapping came when relations between the United States and Pakistan were strained after a security contractor for the CIA shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore.
In a separate development Thursday, at least four people suspected of being militants were killed by a drone strike on a possible militant compound in northwestern Pakistan, a Pakistani official said.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the drone strike took place near Qutab Khel village, about three miles south of Miranshah, in the North Waziristan tribal region, a haven for Taliban and Qaeda militants. The identity of those killed was not known, but the Pakistani official said they might have been of Arab origin.
The Pakistani government condemned the drone strike. The use of drones by the CIA is deeply unpopular in Pakistan.
“These strikes are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “There is an across-the-board consensus in Pakistan that these drone strikes must end.”
It added, “These drone strikes have a negative impact on the government’s efforts to bring peace and stability in Pakistan and the region.”