23 Apr 2015

Italian and US hostage die in US strike on Al-Qaeda compound

President Obama apologises to the families of hostages Giovanni Lo Porto and Dr Warren Weinstein, saying he takes “full responsibility” for their deaths during a US counterterrorism operation.

Speaking in Washington President Obama said he wanted to express “our grief and condolences” to the families of the two men, both aid workers kidnapped in Pakistan.

Mr Obama said he wanted the circumstances of their deaths to be made public, because “the families deserve to know the truth”, but said that – despite hours of surveillance – their presence in the compound was never suspected. An independent inspector general will now review the operation and make recommendations to prevent it happening again.

Dr Warren Weinstein was abducted by Al-Qaeda in 2011, while working for a US consulting firm. The 73-year-old was later seen in videos released in May 2012 and December 2013, asking for President Obama to intervene on his behalf as his health was suffering.

Giovanni Lo Porto was kidnapped in January 2012 just three days after arriving in Pakistan to work for a German aid organisation, Welt Hunger Hilfe, building homes for victims of a 2010 flood. After completing a peace and conflict studies course at London Metropolitan University in 2010 he had worked for various aid projects.

The White House said the families of both men would be compensated for their deaths.

US-born Al-Qaeda operatives

Mr Obama said that US authorities believed that the strike also “took out dangerous members of Al-Qaeda,” namely Ahmed Farouq, an American-born Al-Qaeda leader.

A separate strike is believed to have killed Adam Gadahn, a US-born Al-Qaeda propagandist. The 36-year-old from California became an Al-Qaeda translator and the US State Department had offered a $1m bounty for information leading to his capture.