Captive American pleads for release from al Qaeda

A 72-year-old development worker who was captured by al Qaeda more than two years ago pleaded with President Obama to negotiate his freedom in a video released Thursday.

“Nine years ago, I came to Pakistan to help my government. I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here. Now when I need my government, it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten,” Warren Weinstein said in the video.

This video is the first of Weinstein released since two others were distributed in September 2012. He was kidnapped in Lahore, Pakistan, in August 2011 while working as the director in that country for the United States firm J.E. Austin Associates.

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Reporters in Pakistan received copies of the 13-minute video on Thursday. Weinstein is seen in a black knit hat, a dull-colored track jacket and with a long, gray beard.

“Mr. President, for the majority of my adult life, for over 30 years, I have served my country as a college professor, as a civil servant,” Weinstein said. “I hope and I pray to God that you, as leader of the United States, along with your administration, will feel an adequate level of responsibility toward me, to work for my release.”

The video, which cannot be verified, appears to be made by al Qaeda’s media arm, indicated by its label “As-Sahab.” Reporters in Pakistan also received an accompanying letter, according to The Associated Press.

The White House has previously called for Weinstein’s immediate release but has reiterated it wouldn’t negotiate with al Qaeda.

Members of the terrorist group have said they would release Weinstein if the U.S. stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and if it released al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners around the world.

Weinstein said in the latest video his captors agreed for his family to visit him on the condition that Obama offers an agreement that includes the release of those prisoners.

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