The wife of an American captive of al-Qaeda who after more than three years was killed during a counterterrorism operation in January, the Obama administration acknowledged Thursday, called on the government to improve the “inconsistent and disappointing” help it offers the families of hostages.
“We hope that my husband’s death and the others who have faced similar tragedies in recent months will finally prompt the U.S. government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families,” Elaine Weinstein, now the widow of Warren Weinstein, said in a statement, according to McClatchyDC. Her husband, who was held alongside Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto, also killed in the operation, was working as a development adviser in Pakistan when he was captured in 2011.
Weinstein’s comments echo calls from a number of families of U.S. captives for more frequent communication from the government, more centralized negotiation efforts—no single person is in charge of trying to free hostages—as well as a more case-by-case approach to freeing captives. Some families, including those of journalist James Foley and aid worker Kayla Mueller, have also criticized the U.S. ban on paying ransoms, which State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said would remain in place.
The Obama administration began an internal review of its hostage policies last summer, she told reporters, and has reached out to 82 families involved in hostage situations as far back as 2001.
“These families have gone through the worst thing they will ever have to go through, and I think you hear a lot of different statements from them. We’ve heard people talk about how supportive the U.S. government has been,” Harf said. “But we know this is an incredibly challenging issue. That’s why we’re doing a review of how we deal with all of these issues.”