I won’t be mourning the deaths of the execrable American-born al Qaeda operative Adam Gadahn (aka “Azzam the American“) and that of Ahmed Farouq in US counter-terrorism operations, but I am deeply saddened by the accidental deaths of American hostage Warren Weinstein and Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto.
Gadahn, you may recall, praised the likes of George Galloway and Robert Fisk for demonstrating “their support and sympathy for the Muslims and their causes” and said it’s time that they stopped “sitting on the fence and came over to the side of truth.”
President Obama paid a nice tribute to the two hostages:
Today we join their families and friends in honoring Warren and Giovanni — two humanitarians who came from different countries but who were united by a spirit of service. For decades, Warren lived the ideals of our country, serving with the Peace Corps and later with the United States Agency for International Development. He devoted his life to people across Africa and South Asia. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather who willingly left the comforts of home to help the people of Pakistan. At the time of his abduction, he was a USAID contractor focused on helping Pakistani families escape poverty and give a better life to their children.
Giovanni’s humanitarianism also took him around the world to the Central African Republic, to Haiti and ultimately Pakistan. Like Warren, he fell in love with Pakistan and its people, and believed passionately that he could made a difference in their lives. Giovanni’s service reflected the commitment of the Italian people, our great allies and friends, to the security and dignity of people around the world. And today is a reminder of the bonds of friendship between our countries and the shared values that bind Americans and Italians together.
There could be no starker contrast between these two selfless men and their al Qaeda captors. Warren’s work benefited people across faiths. Meanwhile, al Qaeda boasted to the world that it held Warren, citing his Jewish faith. Al Qaeda held both men for years, even as Warren’s health deteriorated. They deprived these men of precious, irreplaceable years with family who missed them terribly.
Amid grief that is unimaginable, I pray that these two families will find some small measure of solace in knowing that Warren and Giovanni’s legacy will endure. Their service will be remembered by the Pakistani men, women and children whose lives they touched and made better.