|Warren Weinstein and His Granddaughter|
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest just released the news that a January 2015 CIA drone strike on al Qaeda terrorists killed two hostages that the US didn’t know were there. One of the killed innocents was my Freshman College adviser who was being held by al Qaeda for the past four years (since Aug. 2011); Dr. Warren Weinstein.
The President directed that the information being shared today, which was properly classified until now, be declassified and shared with the American people. He takes full responsibility for these operations and believes it is important to provide the American people with as much information as possible about our counterterrorism operations, particularly when they take the lives of fellow citizens. The uniquely tragic nature of the operation that resulted in the deaths of two innocent hostages is something we will do our utmost to ensure is not repeated. To this end, although the operation was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies, we are conducting a thorough independent review to understand fully what happened and how we can prevent this type of tragic incident in the future.
Weinstein worked for a government contractor when he was kidnapped. His work in Pakistan was not military he was there to boost the country’s dairy development, which according to his company resulted in $63 million in new investment to Pakistan, at least 2,150 new jobs, and a 25 percent boost in producer productivity.
His overseas home was stormed by Al-Qaeda operatives armed with AK-47s who tortured and tied up the guards before taking Weinstein. He had been living in the high-security compound for years, traveling back to Rockville, Md. frequently to see his family.
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There will be plenty of time to discuss the mission which killed Warren or the intelligence failures resulting in his death, for now allow me to share what I know about Dr. Weinstein.
Warren Weinstein is one of the people most responsible for tuning me into a political geek.
My first year and a half in college was spent at the State University of NY at Oswego. I was a political science major and Dr. Weinstein was a favorite professor, my department adviser, and as president of the Hillel (officially called the Jewish Student Union) I worked closely with Dr. Weinstein who was our faculty adviser. He always impressed me man big heart. It is not a surprise that when he was kidnapped he was teaching people how to get more food out of their land. That’s the type of person he is. Warren Weinstein was the guy who would invite students over to his house when they were stuck in Oswego for the Jewish holidays.
It was Dr. Weinstein who first taught me what liberalism did to City University. He talked of studying with Hans J. Morgenthau at Brooklyn College when it was known as the “Poor Man’s Harvard.” Once NY City decided College was a God-given right, and everyone was allowed into the school no matter the quality of their grades, Dr. Weinstein said the school quickly became a sub-standard school.
Dr. Weinstein also taught me that one person could make a difference, which is exactly how he lived his life. Look at his work in Pakistan.
I remember when he encouraged me to stand up for what I believed which is why he gave me advice when a Palestinian professor, Dr. Faiz Abu-Jabbar verbally attacked me in class because I didn’t accept his anti-Israel rhetoric as truth.
This is the scum we are fighting in the war against Islamist terror. A group that would kidnap a man who was 68 years old at the time, a man with a heart condition, a man who was only in Pakistan to help people learn to produce more food so they can feed their families. He wasn’t a soldier (I don’t know he was ever in the military) Warren Weinstein is just someone who would go anywhere in the world to help people. His captors would go anywhere in the world to hurt people.
Last July Warren’s wife Elaine Weinstein was interviewed and sent this message toPresident Obama:
“Please. . . work as hard on getting my husband home as you worked to get the sergeant home. Please do whatever you can. He’s a father, a grandfather, a husband, a gentle, kind man, who needs to be home with his family.”
Warren Weinstein was what we call in Yiddish a “gute neshuma”, a good soul, a righteous man who devoted his life to the Jewish principal of “tikun olam,” repairing the world.
To Elaine Weinstein, their two daughters, grandchildren and all of Warren Weinstein’s loved ones:
UPDATE: From Bring Warren Home.com
Following the announcement by The White House today that American humanitarian aid worker Warren Weinstein, who was abducted more than three and a half years ago in Pakistan, has died in captivity during a U.S. counterterrorism operation, Elaine Weinstein issued the following statement on behalf of the Weinstein family:
“On behalf of myself, our two daughters, our son-in-law, and two grandchildren, we are devastated by this news and the knowledge that my husband will never safely return home. We were so hopeful that those in the U.S. and Pakistani governments with the power to take action and secure his release would have done everything possible to do so and there are no words to do justice to the disappointment and heartbreak we are going through. We do not yet fully understand all of the facts surrounding Warren’s death but we do understand that the U.S. government will be conducting an independent investigation of the circumstances. We look forward to the results of that investigation. But those who took Warren captive over three years ago bear ultimate responsibility. I can assure you that he would still be alive and well if they had allowed him to return home after his time abroad working to help the people of Pakistan.
“The cowardly actions of those who took Warren captive and ultimately to the place and time of his death are not in keeping with Islam and they will have to face their God to answer for their actions,” Mrs. Weinstein said.
“Warren spent his entire life working to benefit people across the globe and loved the work that he did to make people’s lives better. In Pakistan, where he was working before he was abducted, he loved and respected the Pakistani people and their culture. He learned to speak Urdu and did everything he could to show his utmost and profound respect for the region.
“We cannot even begin to express the pain our family is going through and we ask for the respect of our privacy as we go through this devastating ordeal.”
While working as an economic development advisor, Weinstein was captured from his home in Lahore, Pakistan on August 13, 2011, and was held hostage for more than three and a half years.
“I want to thank Congressman John Delaney, Senator Barbara Mikulski, and Senator Ben Cardin – as well as specific officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation – for their relentless efforts to free my husband.” Mrs. Weinstein added, “Unfortunately, the assistance we received from other elements of the U.S. Government was inconsistent and disappointing over the course of three and a half years. We hope that my husband’s death and the others who have faced similar tragedies in recent months will finally prompt the U.S. Government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families.”
“I am disappointed in the government and military in Pakistan. Warren’s safe return should have been a priority for them based on his contributions to their country, but they failed to take action earlier in his captivity when opportunity presented itself, instead treating Warren’s captivity as more of an annoyance than a priority. I hope the nature of our future relationship with Pakistan is reflective of how they prioritize situations such as these.”