US aid worker abduction: Police release suspect's sketch

The suspect is believed to be in early twenties and is said to have identified Warren Weinstein to the kidnappers.

Afp/reuters/express August 18, 2011

LAHORE: Lahore police on Thursday released a sketch of one of the suspects wanted in the kidnapping of United States (US) citizen Dr Warren Weinstein.

The suspect, believed to be in his early twenties, allegedly pointed out the target to the kidnappers. He was the only one not wearing a mask.

(Read: Top-secret meeting: FBI, police map out plan for American’s recovery)

As the CCTV cameras of the house were out of order, the sketch was developed with the help of domestic servants and driver of the victim.

Police said the servants and driver will also be interrogated.

The police detained a number of people, including the security guards and Weinstein's driver, for questioning after the kidnapping.

"We have released the sketch of one of the suspects based on information received from the detained people," a senior police official in Lahore, capital of the central Punjab province, told Reuters.     Authorities, however, said they had not uncovered the motive behind the crime.

"Up until now, we are treating it as a simple kidnapping case. ... We are confident we will recover him soon," Rana Sanaullah, provincial law minister who also responsible for security affairs of the province, told Reuters.

Police also said that they would carry out lie-detector tests on his staff in a desperate search for leads.

"We have decided to conduct lie-detector tests on the security guards and the driver to verify their statements given to investigators," senior police official Atif Hayat told AFP.

"From today, we will start their screening. We are also interrogating the security company officials responsible for his security," Hayat said.

"We are questioning all those who served at his office in the past," he added.

The staff are under suspicion partly because Weinstein was taken just two days before he was due to leave Pakistan after seven years, raising the possibility that his movements may have been leaked to the kidnappers.

The American embassy in Pakistan has offered its forensic teams to help with investigations.

Police said the gunmen barged into house on the pretext of sharing a meal with the guards, a common practice during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which started early this month.

The attackers then forced Weinstein's driver to knock on his bedroom door. When he opened it, they took him.

The victim, who is elderly, had been living in Pakistan for five to six years, according to police. He mostly lived in Islamabad but had been travelling to Lahore.

Kidnapping for ransom is relatively common in Pakistan,although foreigners are not often targets.

Militants also occasionally take foreigners hostage but these incidents have taken place in the volatile western region bordering Afghanistan, where insurgents are very active.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction. Sanuallah implied that Weinstein was a spy.

"We suspect that he was involved in intelligence gathering because we offered him a police escort, deployed police at his house, but he resisted our attempts," he said.

"It gives the impression that he did not want us to keep a check on his activities and that makes it suspicious."

Weinstein's friends in the aid community have strenuously denied rumours he was working for any intelligence agency.

A US Embassy spokeswoman also denied it.

J.E. Austin & Associates, an Arlington, is a Virginia-based consulting firm and has been working on a development project in lawless tribal areas where Pakistani troops have been battling insurgents for years.

Dr Warren's family reaches out to kidnappers

US aid worker Dr Warren Weinstein’s family issued a plea on Thursday, informing his kidnappers about his health condition and the medication he requires.

The family conveys their concern for his health, informing the kidnappers that Dr Weinstein suffers from severe asthma and a heart condition for which he requires constant medication to survive.

The medicines include, Plavix (75 mgs; daily) and Aspirin (325 mgs; daily) to prevent heart attacks, as well as (10 mgs daily) and a Symbicort or other similar inhaler to be used twice a day so he can breathe.

His family has requested his kidnappers to provide him the following medicines on humanitarian grounds, to ensure his survival.