Washington will not negotiate with al-Qaeda over the release of a 70-year-old US citizen who was kidnapped in Pakistan almost a year ago, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Carney said on Monday that the administration of Barack Obama, the US president, was concerned about the well-being of Warren Weinstein and would continue to make efforts to have him freed.
The statement came after al-Qaeda released a video on Sunday showing Weinstein imploring Obama to accept the group’s demands or else he would be killed.
“My life is in your hands, Mr. President,” Weinstein said in the new video. “If you accept the demands, I live; if you don’t accept the demands, then I die.”
But Carney also said he did not believe the president had seen the video.
The video posted online on Sunday followed one issued in December in which Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida’s leader, said Weinstein would be released if the US stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
He also demanded the release of all al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects around the world.
Weinstein was abducted in August in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore after attackers broke into his home. He was the country director in Pakistan for JE Austin Associates, a US-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors.
“It’s important you accept the demands and act quickly and don’t delay,” Weinstein said in the video, addressing Obama. “There’ll be no benefit in delaying. It will just make things more difficult for me.”
He appealed to Obama as a father. If the president responds to the al-Qaeda’s’ demands, Weinstein said, “then I will live and hopefully rejoin my family and also enjoy my children, my two daughters, like you enjoy your two daughters”.
After his kidnapping, Weinstein’s company said he was in poor health and provided a detailed list of medications, many of them for heart problems, that it implored the kidnappers to give him.
But in the latest video of him, Weinstein said he would like his wife, Elaine, to know “I’m fine, I’m well, I’m getting all my medications, I’m being taken care of”.