WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – President Obama delivered brief remarks Thursday about American counterterrorism operations in January that killed two American members of al-Qaeda, but that also resulted in the deaths of two hostages – one American and one Italian.
"Since 9-11, our counterterrorism operations have prevented attacks and saved innocent people both here in America and around the world. That determination to protect innocent life only makes this loss more painful," Obama said of the hostages killed.
An accompanying statement issued by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Ahmed Farouq, an American who was an al-Qaeda leader, and Adam Gadahn, the tech-savvy California youth who became the face of al-Qaeda in video warnings to Americans, were both killed in the operation in northern Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan. They were the intended targets. The hostages' deaths were inadvertent, Earnest said.
"Our hearts go out to the families of Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American held by al-Qaeda since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national who had been an al-Qaeda hostage since 2012. Analysis of all available information has led the intelligence community to judge with high confidence that the operation accidentally killed both hostages," Earnest said in the statement.
Obama said during the White House briefing he was declassifying the information about the operation on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border because "the families deserve to know the truth."
The president noted his profound regret for the loss of the hostages and said he had phoned the Italian authorities to inform them of Lo Porto's death. He also said he contacted the Weinstein family to express his sympathy.
"There are no words than can ever equal their pain. There is nothing I can do to lessen their heartache," Obama said.