White House: Americans Working With, Held By al-Qaida Killed in US Drone Strike

UPDATE: April 23, 2015, 10:07 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — An American and an Italian held hostage by al-Qaida, as well as two Americans working with the terror group, were inadvertently killed in U.S. counterterrorism operations earlier this year, the White House said Thursday.

The White House said that Warren Weinstein, an American held by al-Qaida since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian held since 2012, were killed in a January operation in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The operation targeted an al-Qaida-associated compound and there was no reason to believe either hostage was present, the White House said.

In addition, the U.S. believes that Ahmed Farouq, an American who the White House says was an al-Qaida leader, was killed in the same operation. U.S. officials have also concluded that Adam Gadahn, an American who had served as a spokesman for the terror network, was killed in a separate operation in January.

The White House said Farouq and Gadhan were not specifically targeted in the operations, nor did the U.S. have information indicating their presence at the sites.

President Barack Obama was to appear in the White House briefing room at midmorning to make a statement on the incidents.

The White House said Obama takes “full responsibility for these operations and believes it is important to provide the American people with as much information as possible about our counterterrorism operations, particularly when they take the lives of fellow citizens. “

The White House said that while it believes the operations were lawful, the U.S. is conducting an independent review to understand what happened.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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