Following the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by the Taliban, U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) is “pushing hard” to free Warren Weinstein, a Rockville man who has been held by al-Qaida since August 2011.
Delaney last week introduced a resolution in Congress requesting the Obama administration “use all of the lawful tools at its disposal to bring Warren Weinstein home to his family,” while keeping “Congress apprised of its actions to achieve these goals as new information is available.”
The resolution, which Rep. Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.) co-sponsored, was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last week.
Weinstein, 72, is a former official of the Peace Corps and United States Agency for International Development, the same agency that Potomac’s Alan Gross was a contractor for when he was arrested in Cuba. Weinstein was kidnapped by members al-Qaida when he was about to leave Pakistan, where he was working for a government contractor.
According to published reports, al-Qaida has demanded a halt to airstrikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen and the release of al-Qaida and Taliban members held in the U.S. before it will allow Weinstein to go free.
Even though the Obama administration now has shown its willingness to trade for the release of Americans held captive throughout the world, working out a trade with al-Qaida may be further than the president is willing to go. Still, Delaney noted, “the president and the administration feel very comfortable with their decision” to trade five Taliban detainees for one American soldier, a reference to Bergdahl.
Last week, Delaney acknowledged that he wasn’t aware of any news concerning Weinstein, or at least none “we can disclose.” He said he believed efforts were being made on Weinstein’s behalf, noting, “The government is obviously working” on the release of all captives.
Keeping Weinstein’s name in the news, and working on this resolution, are important, Delaney said. “No one knows what matters in terms of someone getting released.”
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry six months ago, Delaney wrote, “I fully understand and respect our government’s policy to not negotiate with terrorists. I encourage you, in the strongest sense possible, to do everything you can to work with Pakistan and our global partners to secure Warren’s release.”
That letter to Kerry was written shortly after the Dec. 25, 2013, video appeared showing Weinstein in captivity and in poor health. At that time, Delaney called the video a positive sign, confirming that Weinstein was still alive.
When he spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives on June 11, Delaney called Weinstein “a loving husband, a father, a grandfather” and a “man of peace” who dedicated his life to public service.
Delaney said he is in touch with Weinstein’s family “on a very regular basis,” and complimented their attitude. “They are showing a lot of grit,” he said.