Warren Weinstein was kidnapped on August 13, 2011 while working in Lahore, Pakistan and died in captivity during a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January 2015.  

 Read the Family's Statement

Warren's Story


Warren Weinstein was an American economic development expert. He worked tirelessly to help others since beginning his career as a human rights advocate in 1969. Weinstein devoted his entire life to helping people around the world become economically self-sufficient.

From 2004-2011, Weinstein served as a development advisor in Pakistan for J.E. & Austin Associates, a contractor to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Weinstein was a father, husband, and grandfather who loved his family and communicated with them every day — sometimes more than once a day — prior to capture. He was 73 years old. He had a heart condition and severe asthma and is in extremely poor health.

His wife and daughter spent time with him in Pakistan. They observed him doing the work he loved and the important relationships he developed with the Pakistani people. He was a gentle man who was in Pakistan to help the people of Pakistan.

On April 24, the White House announced that Warren was accidentally killed in a U.S. drone strike, as was an Italian hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto in January, 2015.

Latest News

The Killing of Warren Weinstein

The New York Times | February 11, 2016

As soon as Alisa Weinstein answered her cellphone last April and heard her sister Jen’s voice, she sensed what was coming. ‘‘It’s been confirmed,’’ Jen said. Alisa stood motionless at the foot of her bed in her tiny San Francisco apartment; just a moment before, she was getting ready for work as a researcher at Uber. She knew what her sister meant: The government was now certain that their father, Warren, was dead, executed by his jihadi captors. She felt herself ‘‘crumpling,’’ she remembers, but quickly ‘‘went into automaton mode.’’ She told Jen that she didn’t want any details. She didn’t want to think about how he had been killed.

“How do you occupy your brain?” Alisa texted a friend later that day, wondering how she would get through her five-hour flight to Washington to join Jen and their mother, Elaine. As she sat on the plane, she was besieged by nightmarish images — her father awaiting execution, her father being shot in the head, her father’s throat being cut, her father beheaded. For more than three and a half years, ever since Warren, who worked in economic development, was kidnapped in Pakistan at the age of 70, she had fought to keep these images at bay. Now they swarmed through her.

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April 24 Statement from Elaine Weinstein

April 24, 2015 – Over the past 24 hours, as we mourned the tragic loss of our husband, father, and grandfather, we have been moved by the tremendous outpouring of support from around the world. We appreciate the sympathy and condolences we have received from those who knew the Warren we loved so much as well as those who did not. We are still focusing on our grief process and our family, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as we work through this devastating time. We want to especially thank Italian Prime Minister Renzi for his message of condolence yesterday and we want to let the Lo Porto family know that they and Giovanni have also been in our thoughts since we learned this tragic news. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of others who have been taken hostage around the world as they endure these terrible ordeals.

Weinstein Family Statement on Disclosure of the Death in Captivity of Warren Weinstein

Bethesda, MD (April 23, 2015) – 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.”

Media inquiries are being addressed on a pro bono basis by LEVICK. Please contact Andrew Ricci at 202-973-1334 (aricci@levick.com) or Eric Lebson at 202-973-1337 (elebson@levick.com).

Al Qaeda Begs For American Hostage Swap

ABC News | August 14, 2014

ABCNews_8.15.14Al Qaeda issued another, more urgent public plea Wednesday to the family of American hostage Warren Weinstein to pressure Washington to negotiate for his release, but his wife told ABC News she feels “powerless” to help free him after three years.

The written, English-language message from the core al Qaeda group in Pakistan, where Weinstein, 73, has been suspected of being held against his will for three years as of this week, urged his family to “pressure your government.” But there was no new video or photo of Weinstein, whose health is believed to have deteriorated in captivity.

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Elaine Weinstein speaks to Voice of America (Urdu)

Air date: August 13, 2014

IMG_1417Warren’s wife, Elaine Weinstein, spoke to Voice of America’s Urdu Service ahead of the third anniversary of his kidnapping. In the interview, she talks about Warren’s time in Pakistan and his love for the country’s people and culture that inspired his work there.

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Elaine Weinstein speaks to Voice of America (Deewa/Pashto)

Air date: August 13, 2014

Warren’s wife, Elaine Weinstein, spoke to Voice of America’s Deewa Service ahead of the third anniversary of his kidnapping. VOA Deewa broadcasts in Pashto to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region where Warren is believed to be held.

This piece aired on both TV and radio.

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Elaine Weinstein Op-Ed Published in Newsweek Pakistan

By Elaine Weinstein
Published: August 3, 2014

My husband, Warren, is a true humanitarian.

He has devoted more than 40 years of his life to helping people around the world, including in Africa and South Asia. Warren came to Pakistan a decade ago to serve as an economic-development advisor. He lived in Pakistan full time, and immersed himself in the culture. He learned Urdu, dressed in shalwar kameez, and took every opportunity to learn more about Pakistan’s history and customs.

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Bring my father home

Published: July 1, 2014

When an American held captive overseas returns home to his or her family, it’s hard not to become emotional seeing the family’s fear and concern replaced by unspeakable joy and relief. I was only eight years old when I watched news footage of the Americans held in Iran reuniting with their families, but I remember being swept up by the moment.

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Alisa Weinstein on her father’s captivity and the risks to development workers

By GABE SPITZER, Humanosphere
Published: June 20, 2014

Warren Weinstein had been in Pakistan for some seven years, working with a contractor on local-scale economic development. Then four days before he was due to leave, in August 2011, gunmen barged into his house in Lahore and took him prisoner.

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Bergdahl reveals the impossible choices faced by hostages’ families

Published: June 6, 2014

The furor surrounding the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl this week has exposed the murky world — and impossible choices — of the families of Americans taken captive by militants.

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Bergdahl backlash sparks fear for another American hostage’s daughter

Published: June 5, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 6.27.08 PMMore questions are being asked about the deal that secured the release of U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held prisoner in Afghanistan, and that includes the relatives of Americans still held hostage.

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Mikulski, noting Bergdahl, presses Obama on detainees from Md.

By JOHN FRITZE, The Baltimore Sun
Published: June 5, 2014

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski called on the Obama administration Thursday to turn its attention to two Marylanders who are being detained overseas and argued that the recent release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl raised significant questions for U.S. efforts to bring those men home.

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Senators Want Answers From Obama on Alan Gross, Warren Weinstein

Published: June 5, 2014

Senator-WeinsteinIn the wake of a national debate surrounding the exchange of five Taliban detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Maryland’s two senators are asking the Obama administration for answers regarding the fate of two Americans civilians held captive abroad — Alan Gross and Warren Weinstein.

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Pentagon effort to free more hostages with Bergdahl nixed

Published on: June 5, 2014

The deal to free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban detainees held by the U.S. military nixed a broader effort by the Department of Defense to include other U.S. citizens held by the Taliban and its allies, a top congressional aide said Thursday.

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P.O.W Families Question Deal to Release Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

Fox Baltimore
Published: June, 2014

More questions are being asked about the deal that secured the release of U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held prisoner in Afghanistan, and that includes the relatives of Americans still held hostage.

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Senators Show Frustration After Briefing on Ex-P.O.W.

Published: June 4, 2014

senators-frustrationWASHINGTON — White House officials failed Wednesday night to quell rising anger and frustration in both parties on Capitol Hill after a senators-only classified briefing about President Obama’s decision to free five Taliban prisoners in return for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who military officials say walked off his base in Afghanistan five years ago.

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‘We wanted to die right there on the spot’

Published: Dec. 30, 2013

The family of a Maryland man who was kidnapped by al-Qaeda two years ago have revealed their heartbreak at seeing him as ‘a shell’ of his former self in a newly-released video.

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U.S. Working ‘Behind the Scenes’ for Al Qaeda Hostage Release, State Says

Published: Dec. 30, 2013

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 6.33.39 PMThe U.S. government is working “behind the scenes” to secure the release of American al Qaeda hostage Warren Weinstein, the State Department said in response to comments made by Weinstein’s family in an exclusive interview today on Good Morning America.

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U.S. Captive says he’s “Abandoned and Forgotten”

Published: December 26, 2013

An American development worker who was kidnapped in Pakistan more than two years ago says in a video released Thursday that he feels “totally forgotten and abandoned” by the U.S. government.

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Timeline of Events


Weinstein arrives in Pakistan

Pakistan Feb.2006 284 copy Weinstein arrives in Pakistan as Country Director for J.E. Austin & Associates, a USAID contractor with an economic development mission. By this time, he had been doing economic development work in the developing world for 30+ years.

June 29th

Weinstein is Kidnapped

Weinstein is kidnapped from his home in Lahore, Pakistan, four days before he is scheduled to return home to the United States and his family.

August 13th

Al-Qaeda claims responsibility

al-zawahiri As-Sahab, the media group of al-Qaeda, releases an audio recording in which leader Ayman al-Zawahiri says his organization is holding Weinstein and will release him if the Obama administration stops all airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and releases several men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, according to the New York Times.

December 1st

Evidence of whereabouts surfaces

Credible evidence surfaces that Weinstein is being held in North Waziristan.

January 1st

First video released

As-Sahab releases a video of Weinstein. It is the first time Weinstein has been seen since his kidnapping.

Two more videos released

As-Sahab releases two additional videos of Weinstein. Read more here.


September 13th

“Abandoned and Forgotten”

As-Sahab releases a 13-minute video of Weinstein and a letter hand-written by him, dated October 2013. The only credible time stamp, however, is Weinstein’s reference to John Kerry as Secretary of State, proving that the materials were created after Feb. 1, 2013. Weinstein’s health has visibly deteriorated from the earlier videos, causing alarm for the family. A State Department spokesperson reiterates a call for Weinstein’s release.

December 25th

2014 Update

As the third anniversary of Weinstein’s kidnapping approaches, the family has received no further information since the December 25 video and letter.

June 30th

2015 Update

The White House announces that Warren Weinstein was killed in captivity during a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January, 2015.

April 23rd


Warren Weinstein was believed to be held hostage by members of a terrorist organization operating in North Waziristan, a mountainous tribal region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The pin indicates where we believe Warren was being held.