U.S. Navy Seals executed a white-house approved raid in an attempt to rescue 33-year-old Luke Somers, a journalist, from Al Qaeda radicals in Yemen on Saturday. Somers and another hostage, South African Pierre Korkie, were both killed during the surprise attack. Apparently the Al Qaeda militants were forewarned of the Seals arrival after a member of the group spotted U.S. and Yemeni forces while relieving himself. The Yemen hostage rescue failed and both men were found severely wounded on the ground when the Seals arrived at a compound located in a Yemen village.
This was the second attempt to rescue Somers with a similar attempt executed in two weeks prior. The initial attempt also failed. When Yemen commandos and U.S. Navy Seals arrived to rescue Somers, he was no longer at the location that intelligence had narrowed him down to.
The compound where the men were being held was guarded by several armed men and was located in a mountainous, hard to navigate, area. Somers had been captive since May 2013. Initially both he and his wife were being held by Al Qaeda militants. His wife was later released.
President Obama signed off on the mission because that Somers’ life was believed to be in immediate danger due to an Al Qaeda video that was released days ago stating that the journalist would be killed within 72 hours if their demands were not met. A gun battle between military forces and Al Qaeda ensued. Subsequently several members of the self-proclaimed militant group were killed. Reportedly none of the U.S. Soldiers were injured. Obama denounced the slayings calling the killings “barbaric”. One military official stated that the killings were “an execution” and there is no doubt that the two men were not killed during the exchange of gunfire between the forces and Al Qaeda.
White House officials were aware that there were two individuals being held hostage. However, they were unaware that one of the individuals was South African and had no knowledge of the negotiations between Yemenis and the South African government for Korkie to be released the following day. Korkie’s family was anxiously anticipating his release that was due to take place on the day he was killed. The news of his death was devastating to his family who were expecting to see him alive and well in just a few days. His sister, Lucy released a video the day before his death begging for mercy and her brother’s safe return.
President Obama offered his condolences to the families of the victims of the failed attempt to rescue the hostages from Yemen speaking for American citizens, offering his condolences to Somers’ family and all his loved ones. Obama went on to say that he offers his prayers to the family of the South African hostage, Korkie, who was also killed by the terrorists during the attempted to rescue them both. The president continued to say that the sorrow and despair is beyond any words at this time.
Despite the Seals’ success in loading both men into a medevac helicopter, neither man survived. Instead of welcoming their family members home, the families of the two slain men now have the unpleasant task of making funeral arrangements. News of final arrangements has not yet been released for either man.
The Obama administration has been very clear about its mission to destroy groups that pose threats to Americans, both domestically and abroad, including groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda and Boko Harem. The Yemen hostage rescue failure is one of many complications in the ongoing war on terrorism. The battle is obviously not an easy one to win. With the strategy to involve enemies of these radicals to assist with the annihilation of terrorist groups, maybe there will be some effective and positive change eventually.
By April Brown
Photo Courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Meranda Keller – Flickr License