No claims of responsibility and no calls for ransom. Three days after he was abducted from his home, investigators fear the worst for 63-year-old American ‘aid expert’ Warren Weinstein.
While the kidnappers were trying to abduct him, Weinstein put up resistance and received a severe head injury, intelligence sources told The Express Tribune.
Country director for US-based consultancy J E Austin Associates, Weinstein was abducted from his home in Model Town, Lahore before dawn on August 13. He had been working in Pakistan for seven years.
Sources said Weinstein’s driver, Israr, informed the investigators that his employer received a severe head injury when one of the kidnappers hit him with his pistol, leaving the victim bleeding and unconscious.
Given his age, investigators said, his head injury might have caused his death since his abductors would not risk taking him to a hospital for fear of arrest.
The head injury account was corroborated by investigators who visited the crime scene and said there was a trail of blood from his living room on the upper floor to the stairs leading to the ground floor of the house. Investigators added that the kidnappers appeared well-trained since they searched Weinstein’s body to ensure there were no embedded chips that could help investigators track him.
Earlier over the weekend, Weinstein’s employer released a statement saying he is in poor health and implored the kidnappers to provide him with his medications.
“If you do not have means of getting them, please contact an intermediary to whom we can deliver the medications,” JE Austin said.
An investigator, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that no demands for ransom or claims of responsibility by the kidnappers support the fear that Weinstein may be dead.
No worthwhile information has been retrieved from the guards and the driver but the police are preparing the abductors’ sketches from the information given by them, said DIG Investigation Ali Aamir Malik.
Preparing neat sketches which can assist the police in investigation takes time, he said, adding that they would be released soon. He added that sketches for only two of the abductors could be prepared since the rest had their faces covered with masks.
Weinstein’s abduction is being investigated not just by two teams of police but also the intelligence agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Military Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau and the Counter-Terrorism Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency.
Meanwhile, personnel of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) including forensic expert, legal attaché and security officers also visited the crime scene and met with police officials for sharing information as well as collecting evidence from the crime scene.
The investigators have not arrived at any conclusion yet.
DIG Investigation Ali Aamir Malik, however, said he was unaware of any visit by an FBI team.
Even if the FBI team visited Weinstein’s house, it was not brought to their notice, Malik said, adding that no foreign team had contacted them for investigating the matter.
Weinstein’s account only had Rs4,000, sources revealed, adding that he was upset at having to leave Pakistan since his contract was about to expire. The aid worker had taken a loan from a US bank and his salary was deposited in the account after deduction of the loan repayments, they added.
Four guards including Fazal-e-Amin, Abbas, Sarwar Hussain and Aurangzeb were hired by JE Austin from Hataff Security System on June 1, 2011 at Rs45,000 per guard per month, sources at the security firm told The Express Tribune.
Two of the guards were hired for day duty while the other two were for night duty.
The JE Austin management had informed the security firm three days before the abduction that guards will ‘not be required after August 14, 2011.”
Sources said of the four guards, one had been court martialled while another one was an absconder from the army.
(Additional reporting by Rameez Khan)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.