U.S. Operations Killed Two Hostages Held By Al-Qaida, Including American

Posted by NPR News on

President Obama offered his "grief and condolences" to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January. Both men were held hostage by al-Qaida.

Obama said both Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American held by the group since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national held since 2012, were "devoted to improving the lives of the Pakistani people."

Earlier today, the White House in a statement announced the two deaths, along with the killings of two American al-Qaida members.

"Analysis of all available information has led the Intelligence Community to judge with high confidence that the operation accidentally killed both hostages," the White House statement said. "The operation targeted an al-Qa'ida-associated compound, where we had no reason to believe either hostage was present, located in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. No words can fully express our regret over this terrible tragedy. "

The statement added that Ahmed Farouq, an American al-Qaida leader, was killed in the same operation. It also said Adam Gadahn, another American al-Qaida leader, was killed likely in a different operation the same month.

"While both Farouq and Gadahn were al-Qa'ida members, neither was specifically targeted, and we did not have information indicating their presence at the sites of these operations," the statement said.

It added:

"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."

Adam Gadahn is an American who grew up in Southern California, converted to Islam and joined al-Qaida. The White House says he was killed in a counterterrorism operation in January.

Adam Gadahn is an American who grew up in Southern California, converted to Islam and joined al-Qaida. The White House says he was killed in a counterterrorism operation in January.

IntelCenter via AP

As we have previously reported, Weinstein was a development worker and Peace Corps veteran who was kidnapped in 2011 from his home in Pakistan. In a video released in December 2013, he was seen asking President Obama to "to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release."

Lo Porto, as the Guardian newspaper reported in a profile in 2013, traveled to Pakistan's Punjab province start a new job as an aid worker. But he was kidnapped soon after his arrival.

Gadahn, as NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reported in 2010, joined al-Qaida in the late 1990s. He was a New Mexico native of Yemeni descent. Here's more from her profile of him:

"He grew up on a goat farm in Southern California. His parents were hippies. He was home-schooled, big into death metal rock, and eventually found Islam.

"Haitham Bundakji was a witness to Gadahn's conversion at the Islamic Society of Orange County in the late 1990s. He was also a witness to Gadahn's radicalization a short time later. 'It didn't take long before he had started spending time with the wrong kind of people at the mosque,' Bundakji says. There were a handful of angry, particularly devout Muslims at the mosque who immediately befriended Gadahn. 'He came to the mosque by himself and he didn't have family who were Muslim, so he was all alone.'"

"Gadahn spent most of his days hanging around the Islamic center. He performed the five daily prayers there. He found odd jobs to do. Bundakji says these young men, a bit older than Gadahn — in their 20s and 30s — took advantage of the new convert. They turned Gadahn against Bundakji, whom they saw as too progressive."

"Bundakji says that back in 1997, Gadahn actually attacked him. Gadahn was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault. He pleaded guilty and Bundakji barred him from the mosque for a time. By 1998, Gadahn and the other young men in his clique had drifted away from the mosque. A short time later, he left the U.S. and went to an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan."

food blog link image children and education blog image arts & culture blog news and information blog link sports blog link image
subscribe to sdpb email updates

The Latest From SDPB Radio News

Personalities: Being Volga German in an Anti-German World

The "Germans from Russia" story continues with Drs. Tim Kloberdanz and Harry Delker, experts in German anthropology...

State Officials Battle Ambiguity, Vagueness In New Victims' Rights Amendment

Public officials confused by the language of the recently passed victims' rights amendment are hoping a task force...

Recapping Black Friday And More Gift Ideas

Kent Osborne and "The Computer Guys" convene to discuss the tech news of the day. They also recap Black Friday...

SDSC: Ownership Interest In Home Not Necessarily A Defense Against Burglary

The South Dakota Supreme Court has answered this question: can a person commit burglary if he's entering his own...

Dakota Midday: "Outlaw Dakota"

Wayne Fanebust's latest book is Outlaw Dakota: The Murderous Times and Criminal Trials of Frontier Judge Peter C...

Dakota Midday: Benefits Of An Oral Interp Program

The South Dakota Oral Interpretation Festival competition begins Friday. The event brings together the top...

Dakota Midday: Measure 22's Challenges And Opportunities

Rick Weiland was instrumental in bringing Initiated Measure 22 before South Dakota voters. Now, as state lawmakers...

SD Crew Calls Gatlinburg Wildfire An “Eye Opener”

A crew of firefighters normally stationed in the Black Hills is helping fight massive wildfires in Tennessee. The...

EPA Boosts Ethanol Market

The Environmental Protection Agency is renewing efforts to give ethanol a bigger market. South Dakota officials see...

Rapid City Housing, Mental Health, and Food Availability Studied For Solutions

A Pennington County official says one of the major problems in Rapid City is that wages don't support the cost of...

The Latest from NPR News

Keith Ellison's Bid To Lead The DNC Faces Increasing Resistance

On the eve of a debate among DNC chair candidates, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison is facing criticism about his past...

Trump's Defense Pick Challenges Rules Regarding Civilian Control Of The Military

Legally, recently retired generals aren't eligible to serve as secretary of defense. While praising James Mattis...

Andrew Sachs, Who Played Beloved Waiter Manuel On 'Fawlty Towers,' Dies

The actor is best known for his portrayal of the hapless waiter from Barcelona on the much loved British sitcom. He...

Jury In S.C. Police Shooting Trial Says It Is Struggling To Reach Verdict

The jury is considering the case of Michael Slager, who shot and killed unarmed motorist Walter Scott in 2015...

5 Fact Checks From Trump's Cincinnati 'Thank-You Tour' Kickoff

Trump brought out a lot of his greatest hits: slamming trade deals, claiming the economy is failing and touting his...

Study: Vast Majority Of People Who Are Depressed Do Not Seek Help

In poor countries, only 1 in 27 people received minimally adequate care. In wealthy countries, it's 1 in 5.