Pentagon confirms failed effort to rescue U.S. hostage in Yemen

A man, who identified himself as Luke Somers, speaks in this still image taken from video purportedly published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The video purportedly shows a U.S. hostage and threatened to kill him if unspecified demands were not met. The man identified himself as Somers and said he had been kidnapped well over a year ago. He was looking for "any help that can get me out of this situation". Reuters was unable to confirm the authenticity of the video, which was posted on YouTube and social media late on December 3, 2014 and carried by SITE, an organisation that monitors militant statements. The man in the video says he was born in the United Kingdom and holds American citizenship. REUTERS/ via Reuters TV (CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MEDIA TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY PROFILE) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION WAS PROVIDED SEPARATELY. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES   | Photo Credit: REUTERS TV

The Pentagon says a hostage rescue mission last month in Yemen failed to liberate American Luke Somers because he was not present at the targeted location.

The Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said in a brief written statement on Thursday that the U.S. government was acknowledging the attempted rescue of the 33-year-old Somers, the only American among the roughly dozen hostages held by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based al-Qaeda offshoot.

Mr. Kirby said the Pentagon wanted to “provide accurate information” in light of the fact that the rescue attempt has been widely reported. Eight hostages were rescued, as has been reported previously.

A Yemeni official said an American journalist and a Briton were moved before the raid.

Mr. Kirby said details about the mission remain classified.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. is aware of a video showing Mr. Somers. She said President Barack Obama authorized a rescue operation last month to free Mr. Somers and other hostages but “regrettably, Luke was not present”.

Ms. Meehan said the mission was coordinated with the Yemeni government and undertaken by U.S. and Yemeni forces.

“The overriding concern for Mr. Somers’ safety and the safety of the U.S. forces who undertake these missions made it imperative that we not disclose information related to Mr. Somers’ captivity and the attempted rescue,” Ms. Meehan said, adding that the mission was being disclosed now because of the video released on Thursday.

Ms. Meehan said the White House’s “thoughts remain with the Somers family, and with the families and loved ones of every other U.S. citizen being held hostage overseas”.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 11:42:46 PM |

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