Al-Qaida released a video Sunday showing 70-year-old U.S. citizen Warren Weinstein, kidnapped in Pakistan last year, pleading to President Barack Obama to break the U.S. rule of not negotiating with terrorists and save his life by meeting the kidnappers' demands.
Weinstein, a contractor for Virginia-based consulting firm J.E. Austin Associates Inc., made a personalized plea to the president in a video available online.
"My life is in your hands, Mr. President," the kidnapped contractor said in the video. "If you accept the demands, I live. If you don't accept the demands, then I die. It's important that you accept the demands and act quickly and don't delay."
Weinstein referenced the president's two daughters in a personal appeal. He then accused Obama of not acting in his case.
"I get the feeling that you are not paying any attention or care about my problem, or my needs; and you're not paying attention and you don't give much importance to my situation," he said in the video. "I'm an American citizen," Weinstein said, emphasizing that he had worked in public service for the U.S. government, including for the humanitarian agency USAID and Peace Corp. So I've done a lot of service for my country, and I would hope that my country will now look after me and take care of me and meet the demands of the mujahedeen."
It was not immediately clear how much of the speech was scripted by al-Qaida.
The terror group's demands, which Weinstein described in the video as "not difficult" and "in accordance with the Islamic law," include the release of all prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, the release of anyone arrested on charges of belonging to al-Qaida and the Taliban, and the release of terrorists convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, according to CNN. Other demands include lifting of the blockade on movement of people and trade between Egypt and Gaza, an end to bombing by the United States and its allies in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza and the release of relatives of Osama bin Laden.
"Al-Qaida's demands are not reasonable at all," Ryan Mauro, national security analyst at RadicalIslam.org, told The Christian Post, adding that the terrorists surely made Weinstein describe these demands as "easy," against all logic. "They [al-Qaida] set the bar so high that it can't realistically expect the U.S. to contemplate giving in."
Traditionally, the U.S. is known to practice a policy of not negotiating with terrorists.
Mauro adds that it is very little likely the U.S. would engage in negotiations, given that it would be very unreasonable.
"Al-Qaeda would be politically impossible and a waste of time. If the U.S. gives in to any of Al-Qaeda's demands, it only vindicates their methods and guarantees further kidnappings," he told CP via email Monday. The terror group is looking to make a "splash" to show its presence one year after bin Laden, its leader, was killed by the U.S. forces, the analyst adds. "The U.S. says Al-Qaeda is near defeat and the terrorist group is under immense pressure to show that it is still effective," Mauro told CP.
"Sadly, I do think al-Qaida will execute Weinstein if we can't rescue him. For al-Qaida, this isn't really about negotiations. It's about getting attention and reassuring its supporters that it isn't on its death bed," he added.
Mauro addressed the kidnapping in December in an article for Family Security Matters, a conservative think. He wrote at the time: "The first thing the U.S. must do is inform Pakistan that it will be held responsible for Weinstein's fate. This would not have happened if Pakistan lived up to the same responsibilities that all of the world's countries are expected to."
Weinstein was abducted with the use of violence by a group of armed terrorists in August of 2011 from his home in Lahore, Pakistan, according to CNN. In December, al-Qaida claimed responsibility for his capture.
"The U.S. won't negotiate with al-Qaida, but the Pakistani government will if it is under enough pressure," Mauro told CP via email Monday.
"Should it fail to do so, Pakistan should receive just as much blame as al-Qaida and the Taliban," he wrote in the article in December. "There are specific, long overdue punishments that Pakistan must face if Weinstein's life is lost."
In addition, the United States should "use the kidnapping to embarrass al-Qaida and the Taliban and to stop them from using it to try to appear strong," Mauro wrote. He added, "Muslim governments that covet their ties to the U.S. should be asked to pressure their imams to condemn the act" because Weinstein is not an enemy combatant and "even some anti-American Islamists will view his kidnapping as uncalled for."