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These Are The Two Hostages Killed During A U.S. Counterterrorism Operation

Warren Weinstein, an American, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian, were killed in January during a U.S. counterterrorism operation, the White House said Thursday. The two aid workers were held hostage by al-Qaeda for years.

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Dr. Warren Weinstein, a 73-year-old aid worker from Maryland, was abducted in 2011 by al-Qaeda in Pakistan where he was the country director for a Virginia-based consulting firm working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In August 2011, Weinstein was kidnapped from his home in the Pakistani city of Lahore by a group of armed men who posed as his neighbors, attacked his security guards and beat him up. He was scheduled to return home to his family in the U.S. four days later.

He had first arrived in Pakistan in 2004 having done economic development work in the developing world for more than 30 years.

Weinstein was married and had two daughters in Rockville, Maryland. Last June, one of his daughters, Alicia Weinstein, expressed concerns about her father's release after the political backlash over Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release.

"We started to realize that the administration is going to be a lot less likely to do this again if it causes some political problems for them," she told CNN in June 2014. "So does that mean that the door is closed for us?"

She was also worried about her then-72-year-old father's health because of his heart condition, severe asthma and high blood pressure.

Weinstein appeared in videos in 2012 and 2013, pleading for his release.

"My life is in your hands," Weinstein addressed Obama in the 2012 video released on extremist Islamist websites. "If you accept the demands, I live; if you don't accept the demands, I die," Weinstein said. Al Qaeda leader's Ayman al-Zawahri had demanded the U.S. to halt air strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen in exchange for Weinstein.

In another video, released in December 2013, Weinstein said his government had abandoned him.

"Nine years ago, I came to Pakistan to help my government and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here," he said. "And now, when I need my government, it seems I have been totally abandoned and forgotten."

In a statement released after news of his death on Thursday, his wife Elaine Weinstein said the family was "devastated" with the news that he "will never safely return home."

"We were so hopeful that those in the U.S. and Pakistani governments with the power to take action and secure his release would have done everything possible to do so and there are no words to do justice to the disappointment and heartbreak we are going through," she said.

She said that husband would still be alive and well if his captors had allowed him to return home after his work in helping the people of Pakistan.

"The cowardly actions of those who took Warren captive and ultimately to the place and time of his death are not in keeping with Islam and they will have to face their God to answer for their actions," she said.

Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian humanitarian aid worker in his late 30s, was kidnapped in Pakistan in January 2012. He graduated from the peace and conflict course from the London Metropolitan University in 2010 and worked on projects in the Central African Republic and Haiti, The Guardian reported.

As a volunteer with a German NGO, Welthungerhilfe (Universal Hunger Relief), Lo Porto traveled to Pakistan in 2010 to assist victims and to rebuild an area affected by the severe floods in the region. He returned to Pakistan in 2012 to continue his relief work, but was almost immediately kidnapped by militants, along with a German volunteer, Bernd Mühlenbeck.

In December 2013, Lo Porto's professor from London Met told The Guardian, that he had last heard from him on his arrival in Pakistan. "He told me 'I'm happy to be back in Asia and Pakistan, I do love the people, the culture and the food of this part of the world,'" Newman said. "Pakistan was his real love and he felt he had done a good job there establishing positive relations with the local population and staff. He was so delighted to be back."

In an email to BuzzFeed News, Newman said he was "shocked and saddened that, after three years of captivity and suffering, Giovanni was killed by an American drone missile."

Newman described Lo Porto as a "warm, friendly, open-minded person" who was popular with both staff and students.

His friends launched a petition for his return in 2013. The petition, signed by more than 75,000 people, appealed to the Italian president and prime minister to make all possible efforts "to bring Giovanni home, to let him come back to his family and to his friends and colleagues."

"Giovanni represents the humanity united, with no borders, distances and prejudices. This is humanity where anyone has the right to live with dignity. Giovanni's eyes are our eyes wide open to see the challenges that vulnerable people are facing. His hands are our hands, which choose to work for a better world for everyone, also for whoever is forgotten," the petition said.

One of his close friends, Sarah Neal, told The Guardian, "I am worried that they'll break him – physically and mentally. Although sometimes I think that if anyone could be friends with his captors, it would be Giovanni."

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

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