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Warren Weinstein, kidnapped in Pakistan, feels 'abandoned and forgotten'

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ISLAMABAD (AP/WJLA) - A 72-year-old American development worker who was kidnapped in Pakistan by al-Qaida more than two years ago appealed to President Obama in a video released Thursday to negotiate his release, saying he feels "totally abandoned and forgotten."

The video of Warren Weinstein of Rockville, Md., was the first since two videos released in September 2012.

The video of Warren Weinstein of Rockville, Md., was the first since two videos released in September 2012. Weinstein, the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S.-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors, was abducted from his house in the eastern city of Lahore in August 2011.

In the video sent Thursday to reporters in Pakistan including The Associated Press, Weinstein called on the U.S. government to negotiate his release.

"Nine years ago I came to Pakistan to help my government, and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here, and now when I need my government it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten," Weinstein said during the 13-minute video. "And so I again appeal to you to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release."

It was impossible to tell how much Weinstein's statement, made under the duress of captivity, was scripted by his captors.

The video and an accompanying letter purported to be from Weinstein was emailed anonymously to reporters in Pakistan. The video was labelled "As-Sahab," which is al-Qaida's media wing, but its authenticity could not be independently verified. The letter was dated Oct. 3, 2013 and in the video Weinstein said he had been in captivity for two years.

In the video, Weinstein wore a grey track suit jacket and what appeared to be a black knit hat on his head. His face was partially covered with a beard.

"Mr. Obama, you're a family man... I'm therefore appealing to you under a humanitarian basis if nothing else, and asking that you take the necessary actions to expedite my release,"  he is heard saying in the video.

Al-Qaida has said Weinstein would be released if the U.S. halted airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and also demanded the release of all al-Qaida and Taliban suspects around the world.

At a nearby Aspen Hill grocery store, neighbors discussed whether the White House should respond to Al-Qaeda demands for the U.S. to end bombings of suspected handouts and release prisoners in exchange for Weinstein.

"I think they could have some other bargaining chips to use -- I know they don't want to use ransom money and so forth," said Rockville resident Joyce Giambolvo.

"I don't think we should pay a ransom," agreed Carl Ressa. "If we could get the SEAL team in...maybe they could get him out."

The White House has called for Weinstein's immediate release, but has said it won't negotiate with al-Qaida.

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