Al-Qaeda says it is holding US hostage (Lead)

December 2nd, 2011 - 8:47 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban Washington, Dec 2 (IANS) A US aid worker has been held hostage by Al-Qaeda, the extremist group’s chief Ayman al-Zawahiri stated Thursday in a video.

Warren Weinstein was kidnapped from Pakistan’s Lahore city by armed men, the Guardian reported.

Al-Qaeda abducted the elderly USAID contractor Aug 13. Zawahiri, in the video, termed him being “neck-deep in American aid to Pakistan”.

Weinstein, a development expert, has lived in Pakistan for seven years and headed the office of an American contractor working for the US government’s agency for international development to enhance Pakistan’s dairy and gem trades.

“Just as the Americans detain whomever they suspect may be connected to al-Qaida or the Taliban even in the slightest of ways, we have detained this man who has been involved with US aid to Pakistan since the 1970s,” said Zawahiri.

Zawahiri also said that the White House could secure his release by halting air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and releases the 1993 World Trade Centre bombers and relatives of Osama bin Laden.

Zawahiri, who had been a long-standing deputy to bin Laden, took over the Al-Qaeda chief’s post this year after the latter was killed in a Pakistani town by US special forces in May.

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