Al Qaeda Leader Zawahiri Says He Has American Hostage

Posted by on Dec 01, 2011 at 7:15 pm

In a newly released audio message, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri claims that his organization is holding hostage Warren Weinstein, a 70-year-old American who went missing last August in Pakistan.

Zawahiri’s statement is the first official claim of responsibility by any group in relation to the kidnapping, and a U.S. official said the statement buttressed earlier “indications” that al Qaeda might be holding the American.

“I tell the captive soldiers of Al Qaeda and the Taliban and our female prisoners held in the prisons of the crusaders and their collaborators, we have not forgotten you and in order to free you we have taken hostage the Jewish American Warren Weinstein,” says Zawahiri in the 30-minute statement, which appeared on jihadi websites Thursday and otherwise focuses mainly on the situation in his native Egypt.

The leader of Al Qaeda addresses Weinstein’s family, telling them that “your government tortures our prisoners, but we have not tortured your prisoner.” He also warns them not to trust President Obama’s assurances that everything is being done to secure Weinstein’s release, accusing the president of wishing “[Weinstein] would be killed to get rid of his problem.”

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