Pakistan

US, Italian hostage embrace Islam before being killed in a US drone strike

ISLAMABAD: Al-Qaeda has revealed that an American and an Italian hostage that were killed in a covert US counter-terrorism operation on the Afghan-Pakistan border in January this year were converted to Islam.

The White House confirmed that US contractor Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto were accidentally killed in a US drone strike in an operation targeting an al Qaeda associated compound in January.

Spokesperson for the al Qaeda Indian sub-continent branch, Usama Mahmood, at his Twitter account published photographs portraying Warren Weinstein praying as a Muslim after he allegedly converted to Islam in captivity before his death in April.

Out of three posted photos two show Weinstein in a prayer pose while third shows his body wrapped in a traditional white shroud reserved for Muslim burial.

According to the al-Qaeda spokesman, Weinstein, who was killed in a US drone strike, had become a “a hard-working student of Islam.”

“After Warren Weinstein converted to Islam, those mujahedeen who imprisoned him became his protectors and started calling him uncle out of respect,” a statement released by the al-Qaeda branch said.

“Uncle Ishaq converted to Islam at the beginning of 2013 and dedicated himself to the pursuit of knowledge,” it said. “Despite his old age, Uncle Ishaq proved himself to be a hard-working student of Islam. The mujahedeen present in the center regarded him as a beloved elder and always came forward to serve him. Uncle never missed his prayers and fasting.”

US officials told the Times that the photographs posted on social media could not be immediately authenticated, and said the militants were using the images for propaganda purposes.

Weinstein was snatched after gunmen tricked their way into his home in Lahore on August 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 Al-Qaeda prisoners.

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

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