A $250,000 ransom reportedly was paid in 2012 for one of two hostages killed in an al Qaeda drone strike in January, but the kidnappers did not hold up their end of the deal. The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday the ransom was negotiated by a Pakistani intermediary, and a Pakistani military helicopter was on standby to transport American Warren Weinstein to safety.
Weinstein, 73, who was kidnapped in Lahore, Pakistan, in 2011, and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto were killed in a drone strike on an al Qaeda compound. The White House earlier this week said U.S. drone policy would be re-examined in light of the deaths.
"Many within our government spent years attempting to locate and free Dr. Weinstein and Mr. Lo Porto," the White House said. However, the Journal cited critics as saying the CIA doesn't put enough emphasis on locating hostages, and the FBI is ill-equipped to handle such situations. The Journal said though the CIA had one drone dedicated to hunting for hostages in Syria, no such operation was conducted in Pakistan.
“Nobody talks to anyone, and everyone is in their [own] lane,” a defense official told the Journal.
The Journal said the ransom was assembled in $100 bills and obtained from a "private" source. It was transferred to al Qaeda in a Peshawar, Pakistan. “The money was delivered, but he [Weinstein] didn’t show up,” the intermediary told the Journal. Afterward, the kidnappers demanded a prisoner exchange, at one point seeking Aafia Siddiqui, a U.S-trained Pakistani scientist who is serving an 86-year sentence for trying to kill U.S. soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan.
“Over the 3 1/2 year period of Warren’s captivity the family made every effort to engage with those holding him or those with the power to find and rescue him,” a family spokesman said. “This is an ordinary American family and they’re not familiar with how one manages a kidnapping.”
Weinstein and Lo Porto were killed in an operation near the Afghan-Pakistan border. The Wall Street Journal first reported Thursday the accidental deaths occurred after the CIA targeted a drone strike on an al Qaeda compound in Pakistan. The CIA conducted extensive surveillance on the compound but was unaware the hostages were held in the area.