Kidnapped US aid contractor reportedly held by militants in Pakistan
Some five months after Warren Weinstein was kidnapped, the US aid contractor is reported to be in the custody of a Pakistani Al Qaeda affiliate, McClatchy Newspapers reports.
A kidnapped American aid contractor is alive and in good health, being held by a Pakistani Al Qaeda affiliate that's likely to use him as a bargaining chip, according to militants, security officials, and analysts.Skip to next paragraph
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Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped in August from his home in Lahore, Pakistan, is in the custody of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants in North Waziristan, a ranking Pakistani militant told McClatchy. The militant said he'd seen Mr. Weinstein last month and at that point "his health was fine."
"He is being provided all available medical treatment, including regular checkups by a doctor and the medicines prescribed for him before he was plucked," the militant, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said last week in an interview.
Weinstein, who's from Rockville, Md., spent several years as the Pakistan country manager for J.E. Austin Associates, a contractor for the US Agency for International Development. Reportedly in ill health, he'd packed his bags and was within hours of leaving Pakistan for good on Aug. 13 when militants kidnapped him from his home in the affluent suburb of Model Town.
Mohammed Imran, a security analyst in Islamabad who maintains contact with Pakistani militant groups, said he'd received messages from militants indicating that Weinstein's captors had no plans to harm him, and that he was being provided with medical care.
"Al Qaeda won't kill Weinstein. It will keep him as healthy as is possible in the circumstances, and use him as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the Pakistani authorities," he said.
Militants and security analysts said Weinstein might be traded for Al Qaeda members who were in Pakistani custody, or used as a human shield to prevent security forces from striking its camps in North Waziristan.
Could take years?
They said retired Pakistani militant commanders were acting as interlocutors to negotiate Weinstein's release, but they predicted a drawn-out process that could take years.
US officials said they had no information about Weinstein's status or condition. The American government, including the FBI, is assisting in a Pakistani investigation into the kidnapping, a US official based in Islamabad said.