WASHINGTON — Family members of an American development expert kidnapped in Pakistan by al-Qaida more than two years ago say they’re holding out hope he’ll return safely home.
Warren Weinstein’s wife, Elaine, of Rockville, Md., told ABC News it hurt to hear her 72-year-old husband say in a video released Thursday that “it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten” by the U.S. government.
“I wanted to die right there on the spot because he has no idea how hard we’ve tried to get him back,” she said in an interview that aired Monday on “Good Morning America.” ”But there’s nothing to do to get him back, because they don’t really tell you what they want.”
Daughter Jennifer Coakley said her children miss their grandfather.
“In my heart, I know he’s coming home,” she said. “I try to tell them that. But it’s just really hard for them to be able to understand why this happened to him. ”
Elaine Weinstein and her daughters did not return telephone calls Monday from The Associated Press.
In the 13-minute video sent Thursday to reporters in Pakistan, including the AP, Weinstein appealed to President Barack Obama to negotiate his release. It was the first video of Weinstein since two videos were released in September 2012.
Al-Qaida has said Weinstein would be released if the U.S. halted airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The group also demanded the release of all al-Qaida and Taliban suspects around the world.
The White House has called for Weinstein’s immediate release but has said it won’t negotiate with al-Qaida.
U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday that officials were actively working with Pakistani authorities to try to secure his release.
“We’re going to keep working with the Pakistanis, working behind the scenes and then the FBI, of course, is involved as well,” Harf said.
Weinstein was abducted from his house in the eastern city of Lahore in August 2011. He was working there as the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S.-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors.
It was impossible to tell how much Weinstein’s statement, made under the duress of captivity, was scripted by his captors.
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