Obama takes the blame for hostages’ deaths

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Thurs­day re­vealed that an Amer­i­can and an Ital­ian hostage were killed in a covert U.S. counter-ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tion on the Afghan-Pak­istan bor­der in Jan­uary, say­ing he took “full re­spon­si­bil­ity” for the tragedy.

Mak­ing public the pre­vi­ously clas­si­fied find­ing, Obama ex­pressed his “deep­est apolo­gies” to the fam­i­lies of the two hostages, War­ren We­in­stein and Gio­vanni Lo Porto.

Two other Amer­i­cans linked to al- Qaida, in­clud­ing spokesman Adam Gadahn, were killed in op­er­a­tions at around the same time, the White House said.

“Based on in­for­ma­tion and in­tel­li­gence we have ob­tained, we be­lieve that a U.S. counter-ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tion tar­get­ing an al-Qaida com­pound in the Afghanistan-Pak­istan bor­der re­gion accidentally killed War­ren and Gio­vanni this past Jan­uary,” Obama said in an un­sched­uled state­ment.

“As pres­i­dent and as com­man­der- in-chief, I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for all our counter-ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing the one that in­ad­ver­tently took the lives of War­ren and Gio­vanni, he said.

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

We­in­stein was snatched af­ter gun­men tricked their way into his home in La­hore on Aug. 13, 2011 shortly be­fore he was due to re­turn home af­ter seven years work­ing in Pak­istan.

He later ap­peared in a video in which, un­der ap­par­ent co­er­cion, he asked the United States to free alQaida pris­on­ers.

Ital­ian aid worker Lo Porto, 39, dis­ap­peared in Jan­uary 2012 in Pak­istan.

We­in­stein’s widow said in a state­ment that “we are dev­as­tated by this news and the knowl­edge that my hus­band will never safely re­turn home.”

The White House state­ment did not iden­tify which U.S. agency car­ried out the op­er­a­tion, which sug­gests it was car­ried out by an in­tel­li­gence ser­vice rather than a mil­i­tary unit.

If con­firmed, it would be the lat­est con­tro­versy to hit Obama’s counter-ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tions, which — while killing Osama bin Laden — have re­lied heav­ily on se­cret drone strikes.

“We have con­cluded that Ahmed Faruq, an Amer­i­can who was an alQaida leader, was killed in the same op­er­a­tion that re­sulted in the deaths of Dr. We­in­stein and Mr. Lo Porto,” the White House said.

“We have also con­cluded that Adam Gadahn, an Amer­i­can who be­came a prom­i­nent mem­ber of alQaida, was killed in Jan­uary, likely in a sep­a­rate U.S. gov­ern­ment coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tion,” it added.

“While both Faruq and Gadahn were al-Qaida mem­bers, nei­ther was specif­i­cally tar­geted, and we did not have in­for­ma­tion in­di­cat­ing their pres­ence at the sites of th­ese op­er­a­tions.”

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