US reviewing apparent video from American kidnapped by al-Qaeda

2013-12-26 15:30

The state department is working to authenticate a video showing a US contractor held by al-Qaeda militants in what could be the first sign since 2012 that he is alive.

The 13-minute video, which The Washington Post said was sent anonymously by email to several journalists who have reported from Afghanistan, shows a bearded Warren Weinstein wearing a gray tracksuit and black beanie hat against a dark background.

It was unclear when the video was made. It features the yellow logo of al-Qaeda’s media unit, as-Sahab.

The Post also did not specify when the email was received.

The video was accompanied by a letter – purportedly handwritten by Weinstein, but also not authenticated – which was dated October 3.

US state department officials were not immediately available for comment.

In the message, Weinstein urges President Barack Obama’s administration to negotiate with the al-Qaeda militants who snatched him in Pakistan more than two years ago.

The 72-year-old development expert called on Obama to renew efforts for his release and consider freeing unspecified al-Qaeda militants in US custody so that his captors could allow him to receive a family visit.

If confirmed, the video appeal would be the third by Weinstein since he was taken captive in August 2011.

He had been working as a consultant for the firm JE Austin Associates, a contractor for the US Agency for International Development.

In his last video statement, released in September 2012, Weinstein appealed to Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, “as one Jew to another” to help secure his release.

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