A former State University of New York (SUNY) Oswego professor being held prisoner by Al-Qaida was killed by a U.S. drone strike in January, the White House said on Thursday.
American Warren Weinstein, 73, had been held hostage since Aug. 13, 2011, when he was kidnapped from his home in Lahore, Pakistan. His family was informed of his death on Wednesday.
The Maryland native was a tenured political science professor at SUNY-Oswego in the 1970s before pursuing work with the U.S. Agency for International Development and a U.S. government development contractor where he was the Pakistan country director.
"He was always concerned about the developing world, and he put his life on the line for it," says Norman Weiner, a retired SUNY-Oswego professor.
An Italian hostage held since 2012 was also killed in the strike, as were two Americans who were working with Al-Qaida, according to White House Officials. It is the first publically known incident in which a CIA-led drone strike killed hostages.
Intelligence justifying the strike was incomplete, officials said. At a press conference on Thursday, Obama said he takes "full responsibility" and has ordered a "full review" of the strike, which a first assessment showed to be entirely consistent with his administration's guidelines.
'He left us to serve others'
Weinstein's SUNY-Oswego colleagues say they remember him as generous friend and a man who wanted to lend hands-on aid.
"When he announced that he was leaving academia going […] off to do aid work, I don't think any of us were surprised," says Weiner, adding, "He was always interested in doing good works, rather than simply talking theory."
"Dr. Weinstein devoted his life to making the world a better place," says Deborah Stanley, president of SUNY-Oswego. "He left us to serve others in some of the world's most impoverished and troubled regions. His life was an inspiration that will not die. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and colleagues" (Weiner, Syracuse Post-Standard, 4/23; McMahon, Syracuse Post-Standard, 4/23; Entous, Wall Street Journal, 4/23; Tau, Wall Street Journal, 4/23).
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