TAKEN HOSTAGE: WARREN WEINSTEIN - American Warren Weinstein had been working in Pakistan since 2004 when out of the blue in 2011, Al Qaeda militants broke into his home and dragged him out, taking him as a hostage. With no warning and no apparent reason why he was chosen, his life and that of his family’s has been drastically changed.
The video above has just been released to the public, nearly two months after it was received. In the video, a much older looking Weinstein is front and center as he appeals to President Obama to negotiate for his release, even pleading on an emotional level that “as a family man” the President must understand the duress he and his family are under.
A letter to the media was included with the video, calling for them to take action and place pressure upon the government stating;
“I am hoping that you will take up my case on a human interest and humanitarian basis, and that you can help my family and me to convince President Obama to take action to negotiate my release.”
Proof of life videos, as the video above is called, have been used by terrorist organizations during negotiations with little success. Most countries do not buckle to demands made, knowing full well that once they do, there will be no end to hostage taking nor any assurance of a positive outcome. What the videos do succeed in doing is reassuring families that their loved one is alive, in the hopes that public pressure will cause the government to respond to their demands.
In Weinstein’s case, President Obama immediately called for his release when he was taken and has done so repeatedly since his capture but to no avail and with the US having a strict policy against negotiating with terrorists, any mutual resolution is doubtful. In a previous video released last year, Weinstein made an appeal to the Jewish community and to Israel’s Prime Minister; again, with no apparent action being taken that would bring about his release.
In exchange of Weinstein’s release, Al Qaeda is calling for the US to cease all airstrikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. Additionally, they seek the release of any and all persons suspected of being part of Al Qaeda and the Taliban from around the world.
Hostages have been taken from every country and for multiple reasons by just as many different groups, including:
In the Philippines, more than 200 hostages were taken in retaliation to peace talks between the government and Muslim groups
In Syria, the Northern Storm Brigade continues to hold dozens of female detainees in pursuit of a hostage exchange
Egypt bars US and other foreign NGO’s from leaving the country in protest to raids by NDI and IRI that receive funding from the US government
“There are so many different groupings that over the years have had injustices visited upon them or grievances that haven’t been addressed.” Steven Rood, representative for the Asia Foundation
War is big business and contractors have been going into affected countries rebuilding infrastructure under the guise of goodwill. There is money to be made; in fact the average construction worker can make just under $100,000USD a year with housing and food provided. The salary alone makes working in such an area, even for a short time attractive despite the risks.
For many Middle Eastern countries, establishing any type of recovery would take years and the help is welcomed. Unfortunately, since these areas are still under conflict, the men and women who venture to these zones are subjected to the same conditions and daily threats as the citizens who live there.
Civilian contractors who have accepted jobs in “hot zones,” are prepared as much as possible before going to work and live in such areas; being made acutely aware of the risks involved and the government’s policy should an incident occur. It is not an easy decision to work in these areas and yet many citizens do so without suffering any harm, but when a case like this does happen, it is only natural to want to force the hand of the government to secure their safety and arrival back home.
For the families involved, feelings of being powerless and anger at the government can be overwhelming. For many, their sole mission becomes going to great lengths in order to keep the name of their loved one in the eye of the public; praying for a miracle and that they would not be forgotten.
Unfortunately for the Weinstein family, there is no answer of hope coming from the White House and it appears as though there may be no resolution in the immediate future.