Sunday 25 September 2016

Obama sorry for drone deaths of hostages

Andrew Griffin in London

Published 24/04/2015 | 02:30

US President Barack Obama has apologised for a counterterrorism operation in January that accidentally killed two aid workers held hostage by al Qaeda, American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto. Photo: Reuters
US President Barack Obama has apologised for a counterterrorism operation in January that accidentally killed two aid workers held hostage by al Qaeda, American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto. Photo: Reuters
US hostage Warren Weinstein.

The US accidentally killed an American and an Italian hostage during a drone strike aimed at al-Qa'ida, President Barack Obama admitted yesterday.

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The White House also said that it had killed two high-profile American members of al-Qa'ida, but that neither of the men had been deliberately targeted and US intelligence did not realise they would die in the strikes.

The admissions raise fresh questions about America's use of drones and the sometimes-limited intelligence the US has on its targets before launching a strike.

Mr Obama announced the deaths of Warren Weinstein, an American development contractor, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian aid worker, in a rare public statement about America's secretive war against al-Qa'ida.

"It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war generally and our fight terrorists specifically, mistakes, sometimes deadly mistakes, can occur," Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama looked emotional as he said he took "full responsibility" for the operation that killed Dr Weinstein and Mr Lo Porto and promised a "full review" of the mission.

"I profoundly regret what happened," Mr Obama said. "On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families."

Both men were killed during a strike against an al-Qa'ida compound in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan in January of this year.

Dr Weinstein was a Jewish academic and development contractor who was kidnapped in Lahore in August 2011 in the final days of a four-year posting in Pakistan. Al-Qa'ida released several videos touting his Jewish faith and making him plead directly to Mr Obama for his release.

Elaine Weinstein, Dr Weinstein's widow, said she was "devastated by this news and the knowledge that my husband will never safely return home".

While Mrs Weinstein said she had received help from members of Congress and the FBI, she said "the assistance we received from other elements of the US government was inconsistent and disappointing".

Mrs Weinstein said she wanted to know more about the circumstances in which her husband was killed, but that al-Qaeda bears "ultimate responsibility" for his death. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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