Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula threatened to kill an American hostage in Yemen after U.S. commandos launched a rescue operation to free him, according to a video posted Wednesday.
Luke Somers, 33, was abducted in September 2013 on a busy street in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. He had been trying to make money by doing freelance photography and other work in Yemen before his abduction, friends said.
Last week, U.S. Special Operations forces and Yemeni troops attempted to free Somers, who was being held in a remote part of the country, but they narrowly missed him, U.S. officials said. The joint force managed to save several hostages, including some Yemenis, but Somers apparently had been moved.
In the video, Somers makes a brief appearance and pleads for his life: “It’s now been well over a year since I’ve been kidnapped in Sanaa. Basically, I’m looking for any help that can get me out of this situation. I’m certain that my life is in danger. So as I sit here now, I ask if anything can be done, please, let it be done. Thank you very much.”
An al-Qaeda official said Somers will meet his “inevitable fate” if the United States doesn’t meet the group’s demands in three days. The demands were not outlined in the video, which was obtained Wednesday by SITE Intelligence Group.
“We warn Obama and the American government of the consequences of proceeding ahead in any other foolish action,” the al-Qaeda official said in the video.
The three-minute video says that al-Qaeda fighters were killed during the rescue operation in the eastern province of Hadramawt.
Somers’s kidnapping has received relatively little attention because of family wishes not to publicize his case. A message left on the answering machine of Somers’s mother was not immediately returned.
Friends say Somers, who was born in Britain and has American citizenship, was intensely private but had a love for the Yemeni people. His Facebook page, which says he studied at Beloit College in Wisconsin, reveals little about his life in Yemen. Another Facebook page pushing for his release shows pictures of Somers in Yemen.
One of his friends said he traveled to Yemen in 2010 and was planning to head home to see his family in the United States before he was kidnapped.
The details of his abduction remain murky. It's not clear if he was snatched and sold to al-Qaeda or taken by the terrorist group at the outset.