WASHINGTON – The family of Warren Weinstein, the Jewish-American accidentally killed in an American strike on al-Qaeda, sharply criticized the US government on Thursday after President Barack Obama took responsibility for the incident.
Weinstein, who was abducted by al-Qaeda in 2011, was killed by an American strike in January on the terror group in Pakistan. The White House also took responsibility for the counter-terrorism operation which killed an Italian hostage.
Weinstein's wife, Elaine, said the family was broken in the wake of the official announcement of his death. She blamed the American government for the "inconsistent and disappointing" efforts to aid the damily over the years.
Elaine said wanted the US government to formulate a better policy on how it handles the families of hostages. “We hope that my husband’s death and the others who have faced similar tragedies in recent months will finally prompt the US government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families.”
US Representative John Delaney (D-MD), who helped the Weinsteins over the years, also said that the US must do a better job of dealing with the kidnappings of Americans.
Mrs. Weinstein admitted that the details of her husband's death had yet to be revealed to her, and stressed that – despite the few congressmen who helped the family – the assistance from the government was inadequate.
"We were so hopeful that those in the US 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," she said.
President Barack Obama said earlier Thursday he takes "full responsibility" for a US counter-terrorism mission that inadvertently killed two al-Qaeda hostages. He defended the legality of the January drone strike against an al-Qaeda compound and said there had been no information suggesting the hostages were at that location.
"Based on the intelligence that we had obtained at the time, including hundreds of hours of surveillance, we believed that this was an al-Qaeda compound, that no civilians were present and that capturing these terrorists was not possible," Obama said in remarks from the White House. "And we do believe that the operation did take out dangerous members of al-Qaeda."
Weinstein's widow also harshly condemned the Pakistani authorities." 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."