An American and Italian being held hostage by Al Qaeda in Pakistan were both killed in a drone strike last January, President Obama announced Thursday from the White House. The hostages were development worker Warren Weinstein, held since 2011, and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto, held since 2012. An American citizen described as a deputy leader of Al Qaeda, Ahmed Farouq, was also killed. A later drone strike in Pakistan is believed to have killed American-born Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn.
Obama said he called the families on Wednesday, but intelligence officials informed them of the deaths beforehand.
"As president and as commander in chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations, including the one that took the lives of Warren and Giovani."
In a press conference Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the U.S. government will be providing compensation to both the Weinstein family and that of the Italian hostage, Lo Porto. He said that the intelligence community had only reached "a high degree of confidence" about Weinstein's death in the last several days.
That intelligence appeared "in the weeks after the strike," according to Earnest, but did not say when exactly, or when the families were told that Weinstein and Lo Porto may have died.
The president did not sign off on the strikes that killed Gadahn or Farouq, Earnest confirmed. "In this case, Mr. Gadahn was not targeted; what was targeted was the Al Qaeda compound that he frequented," he said.
Obama said as much of the incident will be declassified because "the U.S. is a democracy committed to openess, in good times and bad."