Warren Weinstein, 72, was kidnapped by al-Qaida terrorists two years ago while working on economic growth projects in Lahore, Pakistan. Initially, the family said the terror group demanded prisoners be released from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and an end to U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.
Elaine Weinstein, Warren's wife, told ABC News she understands those are requests her family can't influence.
"Who am I to do that?" Elaine said. "The things that they say are things that a normal person can't do. The requests they have are out of our realm."
In the most recent hostage video, released last week by al-Qaida's media arm, Weinstein appeals directly to U.S. President Barack Obama to do what's necessary for his release.
"Mr. Obama, you're a family man," Weinstein says. "You understand the deep mental anxiety and anguish that I have been experiencing for these past more than two years. And therefore I'm appealing to you on a humanitarian basis, if nothing else, and asking that you take the necessary actions to expedite my release and my return to my family and to my country."
Elaine Weinstein said it was "heartbreaking" to watch.
"I wanted to die right there on the spot," she said. "Because he has no idea how hard we've tried to get him back ... and it's just heartbreaking because he's asking for help and I can't give him any."