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April 23, 2015

UUP mourns loss of former member Warren Weinstein

United University Professions sends its condolences to the family of former UUP member Warren Weinstein, an American human rights activist held hostage by al Qaeda who was accidentally killed in a U.S. counterterrorism drone strike.

“Dr. Weinstein is a hero,” said UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D. “As a human rights activist, he spent his life helping others. My heart goes out to the Weinstein family, which has worked tirelessly to free him from the grips of terrorism. His death is tragic.”

The White House announced Weinstein’s death April 23. Weinstein and an Italian hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto, were killed in the January attack, which also killed an American who was an al Qaeda leader.

Weinstein, 73, is a former UUP member at the State University of New York at Oswego. He was kidnapped by al Qaeda terrorists Aug. 13, 2011, in Lahore, Pakistan, while working with the United States Agency for International Development.

In an August 2014 press release, UUP called for the U.S. State Department to secure Weinstein’s release. Kowal urged UUP’s 35,000 members to contact their Congressional representatives to ask them to support U.S. House and Senate resolutions calling for Weinstein’s safe return.

Kowal also wrote letters to NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association urging them to pressure the State Department to take action to free Weinstein immediately.

President Barack Obama, in a morning press conference April 23, said the CIA was unaware of Weinstein’s location—he was being kept at an al Qaeda compound—when the drone strike was ordered.

"For decades, Warren lived the ideals of our country," said Obama. "He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who willingly left the comforts of home to help the people of Pakistan."

Weinstein was working as an economic development expert for J.E. & Austin Associates, a contractor to USAID, when he was abducted. Weinstein served in the Peace Corps before working with USAID. He has not been heard from since 2012, when he was seen in a video released by al Qaeda.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters and numerous grandchildren.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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