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American hostage killed in U.S. drone strike against al-Qaida base

April 30th, 2015

 

 

United States officials announced on Thursday, April 23 that two hostages were killed in an airstrike against al-Qaida in January.

 

CIA Director John Brennan told President Barack Obama early last week that American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto were both killed in Pakistan as a result of the drone strike on January 14, 2015, according to CBS News.

 

Weinstein, who was captured in 2011, and Lo Porto, who was captured in 2012, were being used to shield Ahmed Farouq, an al-Qaida leader. Farouq—an American citizen–was also killed in the strike.

 

Five days after the air strike, Adam Gadahn, another American al-Qaida leader, was killed in a drone strike, according to Reuters.

 

In a statement issued by the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the drone strike was aimed at an al-Qaida compound on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Earnest also stated that the U.S. government did not believe there were any hostages being held in this compound.

 

According to The Washington Post, Earnest said that Obama did not authorize this drone strike, but rather that it was authorized by U.S. counterterrorism officials who have the authority to do so.

Barack Obama

During a press conference on  April 23, Obama said, “As president and as commander in chief I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations including the one that inadvertently took the livers of Warren and Giovanni.”

 

“I profoundly regret what happened,” Obama continued. “On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”

 

Obama also explained that the operation was “consistent with the guidelines” for counterterrorism strikes. However, he has ordered a full review of the incident.

 

“It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war generally and our fight against terrorists specifically, mistakes, sometimes deadly mistakes, can occur,” He said. “But one of the things that sets America apart from many other nations, one of the things that makes us exceptional, is our willingness to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our mistakes.”

 

CBS News senior security contributor Michael Morrell, former CIA deputy director, said that the deaths of Weinstein and Lo Porto necessitate a review of drone strike procedures.

 

“I would want to know whether all normal procedures were followed here, number one,” Morrell said when asked how he would carry out a review. “Number two, I would want to know whether there are any new procedures that we need to put into place. And, number three, I’d want to know how…we do a better job collecting intelligence on what’s going on inside these compounds that we’re targeting.”

 

According to Reuters, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said, “I have much appreciated the transparency of the United States in taking their responsibilities for what happened and the way Obama communicated what happened.”

 

The Washington Post reported that Weinstein’s wife gave a statement shortly after Obama’s press conference, saying their family was “devastated.”

 

“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,” she said. “There are no words to do justice to the disappointment and heartbreak we are going through.”

 

Editor’s Note: Information from The Washington Post, CBS News and Reuters was used in this report.