American aid expert Warren Weinstein was kidnapped in Lahore, Pakistan after gunmen tricked his guards and broke into his house during a raid that’s believed to restrict foreigners’ activities, the Australian is reporting. Weinstein works as the Pakistan country director for a development contractor that has received millions of dollars in aid from the U.S. government.
Two of the kidnappers reportedly showed up at Weinstein’s house in Lahore, which is the capital of the Punjab region and is home to several of Pakistan’s top militant networks. The kidnappers told the guards they wanted to give them food, which is an act of sharing that’s common during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. After the guards opened the gates to let the men in, five more kidnappers appeared. The armed assailants then overpowered the guards and took Weinstein from his bedroom.
US officials are working with local authorities in Pakistan to find Weinstein, the State Department announced in Washington. Police have refused to release any possible motivations in the kidnapping, however. Police official Tajamul Hussain has said “We’re looking into all angles, whether it was an ordinary case of ransom or whether it involves militants.”
Weinstein, who had lived in Lahore since 2006 and was working for J.E. Austin Associates, had been scheduled to return to the U.S. on August 15. The firm had recently finished a development project in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt, which is considered to be al-Qa’ida headquarters. J.E. Austin, whose website described Weinstein as not being too worried about security issues, is reportedly nervous about the kidnapping, as it spent a lot of money on security on its staff.
Written by: Karen Benardello