In January 2015, a CIA drone killed an Italian aid worker named Giovanni Lo Porto during a strike on an Al Qaeda compound in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. In July 2016, the Obama Administration reached a settlement agreement with Lo Porto's family that included a payment by the United States of more than one million euros.
In early 2012, Lo Porto traveled to Pakistan for a job with an NGO that was helping to rebuild an area damaged by floods. (1) Soon after his arrival, Al Qaeda operatives kidnapped him. (2) Lo Porto's captors also held Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development who had been kidnapped in 2011. (3) Italian authorities reportedly told Lo Porto's family in December 2014 "that they were in contact with intermediaries and making progress on negotiations." (4)
In January 2015, the United States bombed the compound where Lo Porto and Weinstein were being held. Both men were killed, along with Ahmed Farouq, a U.S. national and Al Qaeda leader whose presence at the compound had not previously been known. (5) As President Barack Obama later explained, the attack was based on "hundreds of hours of surveillance" that demonstrated the presence of Al Qaeda operatives. (6) Obama also asserted that there had been no indication that the hostages or other civilians were present at the location. (7)
In the wake of the operation, U.S. intelligence professionals conducted a "battle damage assessment... to determine the results of the operation and whether... any civilian casualties occurred." (8) According to the White House, the intelligence community concluded "with a high degree of confidence that Dr. Weinstein had been killed in a U.S. government counterterrorism operation. The president was briefed by his national security team soon after that high-confidence assessment was completed." (9) On April 22, 2015, "members of the national security apparatus" officially informed Weinstein's family that Weinstein had been killed during of a U.S. government counterterrorism operation. (10) Obama called Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi personally to report Lo Porto's killing; (11) the two had not discussed Lo Porto during Renzi's visit to the White House the week before. (12)
In a public statement on April 23, Obama apologized for the killings:
As President and as Commander-in-Chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations, including the one...