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United States of America Hostages Die During Failed Rescue by US Commandos

British-Born U.S. Photojournalist is Killed by his al-Qaeda Captors
-During 2nd Failed Rescue Attempt by American Commandos in Yemen

  • Luke Somers, 33, was being held hostage by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen
  • Reportedly shot by captors as U.S. commandos launched the operation
  • He was flown to a U.S. naval ship but died from injuries before his arrival
  • U.S. President Barack Obama this morning condemned killing as 'barbaric'
  • Vows to 'spare no effort' in attempts to bring American hostages home
  • Comes days after militants threatened to kill him on a video posted online
  • His family had earlier pleaded with the militants to 'please, show mercy'
  • Mr Somers was kidnapped in September 2013 in Yemen's capital Sana'a
  • South African Pierre Korkie also killed during mission in Shabwa province
  • The aid worker was reportedly due to be released by militants tomorrow
Daily Mail UK, 6 December 2014

A British-born U.S. photojournalist and a South African aid worker held hostage in Yemen by al Qaeda were 'murdered' in a failed rescue attempt, the US defence secretary has confirmed.

American citizen Luke Somers had been held hostage since September 2013 in Yemen's capital Sana'a having moved to the country two years earlier.

The 33-year-old was reportedly shot by his captors as US commandos carried out a dramatic rescue bid in the southern Shabwa province late on Friday night.
Another hostage, South African aid worker Pierre Korkie, was also killed during the operation - a day before he was due to be released.

Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed his death this morning during a trip to Afghanistan.
During a press conference he announced that 1,000 more US troops than expected will be stationed in the country next year following a spike in Taliban attacks.

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Lucy Somers said she learned of her 33-year-old brother Luke Somers' death from FBI agents

Mr Somers was badly wounded when commandos found him and he died from his injuries by the time he had been flown to a naval ship.

It has also been revealed that U.S. Special Forces failed before when they tried to rescue Mr Somers last month.

Mr Somers' sister Lucy Somers told Associated Press that she learned of her brother's death from FBI agents at 5am this morning.

'We ask that all of Luke's family members be allowed to mourn in peace,' she said from London.

An Osprey aircraft took a team of U.S. Navy SEALS to the location, which was close to the site where a previous rescue mission had taken place
A gun fight is understood to have unfolded before the badly injured hostages were taken away on the aircraft, the report says.

US President Barack Obama described Mr Somers' murder as 'barbaric' in a statement this morning.

'On behalf of the American people, I offer my deepest condolences to Luke's family and to his loved ones,' he said in a statement.
'As this and previous hostage rescue operations demonstrate, the United States will spare no effort to use all of its military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely, wherever they are located.
'And terrorists who seek to harm our citizens will feel the long arm of American justice,' he said.

President Obama said he authorised the raid on Friday to rescue Somers and other hostages held in the same location. He said the United States had used every tool at its disposal to secure Somers' release since his capture 15 months ago.
He also thanked the Yemen government for its support. It is understood that the U.S. personnel who carried out the raid are safe.

British-born U.S. photojournalist Luke Somers (pictured), who was being held by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, has been killed in a failed rescue attempt, his sister has revealed today

Luke Somers was kidnapped in September 2013 from Yemen's capital Sana'a (shown in the map above)

Mr Somers moved from London to Sana'a, Yemen in 2011 to become a teacher, but soon started taking pictures of public demonstrations and established himself as a photojournalist working for the Yemen Times

'Luke was a photojournalist who sought through his images to convey the lives of Yemenis to the outside world,' President Obama said.
'The callous disregard for Luke's life is more proof of the depths of AQAP's depravity, and further reason why the world must never cease in seeking to defeat their evil ideology," he said.

Hagel this morning confirmed Mr Somers and a second hostage being held by terrorists in Yemen were 'murdered' during a rescue attempt ordered by the President.
Hagel said that several terrorists were also killed in the mission carried out by U.S. special forces.
He made the announcement just hours before holding a press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani - during which he confirmed 10,800 troops will still be in Afghanistan in 2015.
The original plan was to cut the number down to 9,800.

'It's predictable that they would do everything they could and continue to do to try to disrupt and discourage the new government of President Ghani,' he said.

Yemen's security chief on death of Luke Somers

The news of the hostage's death came as Chuck Hagel made an unannounced visit to Kabul to meet Afghan President Ghani and announce that more troops than expected will be stationed in the country in 2015

The Defense Department said the rise in violence did not prompt the decision to keep troops in the country.
An official statement said it was due to the late signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement, which allows a specified amount of U.S. troops to remain after the combat mission ends this year.
Hamid Karzai, Ghani's predecessor, refused to sign the deal.

According to The Pentagon, 99 per cent of Afghan forces are now taking the lead in missions and are performing 'well'.
By 2016 the number of troops will have decreased to 5,500 before a further transition to power in Kabul by 2017.

The humanitarian group Gift of Givers said today that teacher Pierre Korkie was shot dead during the bid to rescue Mr Somers - just a day before he was set to be freed.

Mr Korkie and his wife Yolande were reportedly captured by militants in May 2013 in Ta'iz, Yemen. But his wife was released after Gift of the Givers helped negotiate her freedom.


South African Pierre Korkie was killed in the attempted rescue mission by the United States - just a day before he was due to be released, an aid group says.
Mr Korkie was killed in the failed effort to release hostages, Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of the Gift of the Givers group told the South African Press Agency.
Korkie was to be freed by al-Qaeda on Sunday, Gift of the Givers said on Twitter.

South African Pierre Korkie was killed in the attempted rescue mission by the United States - just a day before he was due to be released. His wife Yolande is pictured

'Leaders met in Aden this morning, preparing final security and logistical arrangements 2 bring Pierre 2 safety & freedom,' said tweeted the aid group.
Mr Korkie and his wife Yolande were taken hostage in Taiz, Yemen, in May 2013, the charity said.
A team had met in Aden this morning, preparing final security and logistical arrangements 2 bring the hostage to freedom, it claimed.
'It is even more tragic that the words we used in a conversation with Yolande at 5.59 this morning was "the wait is almost over",' the charity tweeted to its 7,500 followers.

It added:

'Three days ago we told her "Pierre will be home for Christmas".
'We certainly did not mean it in the manner it has unfolded.
'All logistical arrangements were in place 2 safely fly Pierre out of Yemen under diplomatic cover.'

At the time of the kidnapping, Mr Korkie was a teacher in Yemen, while his wife was working in hospitals, News24 reports.
Those close to Mr Korkie said al-Qaeda militants had demanded a $3million ransom for his release.

Yemen's national security chief, Major General Ali al-Ahmadi, said the militants planned to kill Luke Somers on Saturday.

'Al-Qaeda promised to conduct the execution (of Somers) today so there was an attempt to save them but unfortunately they shot the hostage before or during the attack, al-Ahmadi said at a conference in Manama, Bahrain.

Earlier this week al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) issued a video with a message aimed at the US government threatening to kill Mr Somers if its demands were not met.

Last week the U.S. said it had attempted a rescue operation to free a number of hostages, including Mr Somers, but that he had not been at the site of the raid.

The family of Mr Somers had earlier pleaded for him to be released.
In an online video Miss Somers described her older brother as a romantic who 'always believes the best in people.' She added: 'Please let him live.'
His father Michael said Mr Somers was 'a good friend of Yemen and the Yemeni people'.

It came after the release of the AQAP video which begins with a reading in Arabic from Nasser bin Ali al Ansi, an AQAP official, before Mr Somers appears and gives a statement in English.

Militants released a video on Thursday that showed Mr Somers, threatening to kill him in three days if the United States did not meet the group's demands

Nasser bin Ali al Ansi, senior official in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, pictured, spoke for two minutes and thirty seconds during the video where he threatened to kill Mr Somers within three days

Al Qaeda threatens to kill British-born hostage Luke Somers

He said: 'My name is Luke Somers. I'm 33 years old. I was born in England, but I carry American citizenship and have lived in America for most of my life.
'It's now been well over a year since I've been kidnapped in Sana'a. 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.'

Al Ansi gave the US government three days to meet the demands or 'otherwise, the American hostage held by us will meet his inevitable fate'.

The three-minute video also features Ansi speaking about American activity in Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq as well as recent air strikes in Syria.
It follows similar videos by another extremist militant group, Islamic State (IS), which has already killed two British hostages and three American hostages in videos released on social media.


Luke Somers had been working as a freelance photographer when he was captured, and those who knew him say he had 'wanderlust' and was drawn to new experiences.
Mr Somers, who was born in Britain, earned a bachelor's degree in creative writing while attending Beloit College in Wisconsin from 2004 through 2007.

'He really wanted to understand the world,' said Shawn Gillen, an English professor and chairman of Beloit College's journalism program.

Fuad Al Kadas, who said Somers is one of his best friends, said Somers spent time in Egypt before finding work in Yemen. Somers started teaching English at a Yemen school but quickly established himself as a one of the few foreign photographers in the country, he said.

'He is a great man with a kind heart who really loves the Yemeni people and the country,' Al Kadas wrote in an email from Yemen. He said he last saw Somers the day before he was kidnapped.
'He was so dedicated in trying to help change Yemen's future, to do good things for the people that he didn't leave the country his entire time here,' Al Kadas wrote.

Al Kadas said in Yemen, Somers enjoyed making friends with neighbors, youth activists and ordinary people.

American commandos tried to rescue Mr Somers in another failed raid on an AQAP camp late last month, but he had been moved by the time they arrived

Gillen said Somers wanted to seek out experiences that would matter to him, noting he traveled to Egypt as part of the school's study abroad program. The professor said he wasn't surprised when he heard Somers had moved to Yemen.

'He'd want to be in places where world events were happening,' the professor said, adding that liberal arts instructors want their students 'to go on and lead meaningful, purposeful lives. Luke was trying to do that. That makes (his capture) all the more horrible for us to ponder.'

Gillen said Somers was in his advanced non-fiction writing course and a small-group seminar that focused on William Butler Yeats and James Joyce. He said Somers would often stop by his office just to chat.

'He would come by and say, "I was walking across campus and I was thinking about something Joyce wrote," and he'd want to talk about it. In many ways that's a professor's dream come true,' Gillen said.

Friends of Mr Somers (pictured) said he had 'wanderlust' and was drawn to new experiences

In 2007, Somers worked as an editor at The Teaching Drum Outdoors School in Three Lakes, Wisconsin.
Tamarack Song, the school's director, said Somers was hired to edit a book for the school. He came to the school with his girlfriend who also was an editor.

'He was born in England, raised in America. He had wanderlust,' Song said. 'He wanted to know what made people tick. He has an undying curiosity for human dynamics and for the way people worked. He was constantly doing research.'

Song said he thought Yemen and the Middle East was a symbol for Somers, and that Somers wanted to be at the epicenter of culture and ideology.
Song said he speculates that Somers went 'to be where the action was, to get a feel for the pulse of contemporary conflict.'

'He wanted to be in the center of things, and to get a feel for it. To get closer and closer, to interview people, to research, to write, to get right there,' Song said.

IS has posted a series of videos online showing the separate murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, US aid worker Peter Kassig and two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning.

Foley, who was beheaded in by the terrorists in August, was reportedly the subject of another failed rescue mission in July.

Following his death, White House counter-terrorism adviser told the press:

'The U.S. government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the president authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens.
'Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present.'

The US administration was accused of knowing where Foley was five weeks before the extraction attempt in July and questions have been raised as to why they hesitated.

A former military official told Fox that when the team 'finally did go' into Syria to try and save Foley and a number of other hostages they felt the intelligence was 'drying up'.

Footage claiming to show Mr Henning's murder appeared on the internet just days after the UK joined US-led air strikes against the terrorists in Iraq.

The news of the failed rescue comes after a suspected U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed nine alleged al-Qaeda militants early Saturday, a security official said.
The drone struck at dawn in Yemen's southern Shabwa province, hitting a suspected militant hideout, the official said.
The official did not elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorised to brief journalists.

At least six suspected militants were killed in an airstrike in the same province last month.
Later Saturday, tribal leaders said they saw helicopters flying over an area called Wadi Abdan in Shabwa province.

Luke Somers' sister Lucy appealed to captors for his release

Family of Luke Somers begged for mercy

Begging for mercy: Luke's brother, Jordan (left), and his mother, Paula Somers (right), released a video on Thursday asking his al-Qaeda captors to release him

American authorities rarely discuss their drone strike campaign in Yemen.
The strikes are incredibly unpopular in Yemen due to civilian casualties, legitimising for many the attacks on American interests.

In a statement on Thursday, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby acknowledged for the first time that a mysterious U.S. raid last month had sought to rescue Mr Somers but that he turned out not to be at the site.
Kirby did not elaborate on the joint U.S-Yemeni operation to free Mr Somers, saying details remained classified.

However, officials have said the raid targeted a remote al-Qaeda safe haven in a desert region near the Saudi border. Eight captives - including Yemenis, a Saudi and an Ethiopian - were freed.

Mr Somers, a Briton and four others had been moved days earlier.

Mr Somers was kidnapped in September 2013 as he left a supermarket in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, said Fakhri al-Arashi, chief editor of the National Yemen, where Mr Somers worked as a copy editor and a freelance photographer during the 2011 uprising in Yemen.

The U.S. considers Yemen's al-Qaeda branch to be the world's most dangerous arm of the group as it has been linked to several failed attacks on the U.S. homeland.

US discloses failed attempt to rescue American in Yemen

Al Qaeda Threatens to Kill British-Born Hostage Luke Somers

US Discloses Failed Attempt to Rescue American in Yemen:

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