US forces tried to rescue hostage being held by al Qaida militants
Luke Somers was kidnapped more than a year ago; AQAP threatens to kill within three days if demands not met
President Barack Obama authorized the mission last month but "regrettably, Luke was not present, though hostages of other nationalities were present and were rescued," the National Security Council said.
US National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said: "As soon as the US government had reliable intelligence and an operational plan, the president authorized the department of defense to conduct an operation to recover Mr Somers."
Al-Qaida in Yemen released a video Thursday threatening to execute a US journalist taken hostage last year.
In the video dated December 2014, the hostage said his name was Luke Somers, 33, and that he was kidnapped more than a year ago in Sanaa.
The photojournalist was kidnapped in the Yemeni capital in September 2013, US-based monitoring agency SITE Intelligence said.
The video featured a message by Nasser bin Ali Al-Ansi, of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), threatening to kill the hostage in three days if Washington failed to meet unspecified demands.
A Yemen defense ministry website said last week that Al-Qaida had moved hostages including an American journalist, as well as a Briton and a South African, days before a raid in southeastern Hadramawt province to free him.
In the video, Ansi mentioned a "failed operation" in Hadramawt that left militants dead. He described it as the "latest foolish action" by the United States.
Yemen had confirmed the operation. US media reported that American commandos had carried out the raid with Yemeni troops to try to free the US captive.
The New York Times said the commandos found eight other hostages during the raid, including six Yemenis, but not the American.
Luke Somers' mother and brother uploaded a video to Youtube asking AQAP to release him on Thursday night.
In the video they stated that they have never received a reason as to why Somers was abducted and that they had no prior knowledge of the failed rescue attempt.
Somers' mother thank AQAP for taking "good care" of him, mentioning that he looked healthy.
AQAP is considered by Washington as the most dangerous affiliate of Al-Qaida, but it is not known for frequently executing foreign hostages.
The AQAP threat follows the execution of five Western hostages since August by the Islamic State group in control of parts of Syria and Iraq.
Two US journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, American aid worker Peter Kassig, and British aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines were executed.
Yemen is a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaida, allowing Washington to conduct a longstanding drone war against the group on its territory.
The militant group has exploited instability in the impoverished country since a 2011 uprising overthrew president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
(with AFP) Read more http://www.i24news.tv/app.php/en/news/international/middle-east/53296-141204-yemen-s-qaida-parades-us-hostage-threatens-to-kill-him-site
Obama Says Somers' Life Was in Imminent Danger
President Barack Obama said Saturday he authorized the attempt to rescue American Luke Somers in Yemen because the U.S. had information that the American photojournalist's life was in imminent danger.
Shortly before the White House statement, Yemen's national security chief said militants had planned to kill Somers on Saturday. On Thursday, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula posted a video online threatening to kill the American.
Authorities said Somers, who was kidnapped in September 2013, and a South African teacher, Pierre Korkie, died in the rescue operation that Obama said was conducted by U.S. forces in partnership with Yemen's government.
The president said he "strongly condemns the barbaric murder of Luke Somers at the hands of al-Qaida terrorists" and reaffirmed that the U.S. "will spare no effort to use all its military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely, wherever they are located."
Obama said terrorists "who seek to harm out citizens will feel the long arm of American justice."
A mysterious U.S. raid last month had tried to rescue Somers but he was not at the site, the Pentagon's spokesman acknowledged Thursday.
Obama cited the captors' video threatening to kill Somers within 72 hours and said "other information also indicated that Luke's life was in imminent danger."
"Based on this assessment, and as soon as there was reliable intelligence and an operational plan, I authorized a rescue attempt yesterday," Obama said in the White House statement.
Secretary of State John Kerry also cited "a compelling indication that Luke's life was in immediate danger" and said "we recommended that the president authorize an attempt to rescue Luke."
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a news conference in Afghanistan that the rescue operation was "extremely well executed," and was complicated and risky.
Obama said Somers wanted to use his photographic images to convey the lives of Yemenis to outsiders, and had come to the country "in peace and was held against his will and threatened by a despicable terrorist organization. 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."