SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen is threatening to kill an American hostage kidnapped over a year ago and has given Washington three days to meet several unspecified demands, a US terrorism monitoring group said Thursday.
The SITE Intelligence Group said it obtained a video by Yemen’s al-Qaeda offshoot featuring the hostage, identified as 33-year-old Luke Somers, an American photojournalist born in Britain.
Somers was kidnapped in September 2013 from a street in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, where he had worked as a photojournalist for the Yemen Times.
He was likely among a group of hostages who were the objective of a joint rescue mission by US operation forces and Yemeni troops last month that freed eight captives in a remote corner of Yemen.
At the time, a Yemeni official said the mission failed to liberate five others, including an American journalist and a Briton who were moved elsewhere by their al-Qaeda captors days before the raid. The American was not identified by name and Yemen did not officially confirm the participation of US commandos in the rescue mission — a rare instance of US forces intervening on the ground in Yemen.
The three-minute video released by SITE on Thursday first shows a local al-Qaeda figure, Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, reading in Arabic and speaking about alleged American crimes against the Muslim world.
Al-Ansi gives the US three days to meet al-Qaeda’s demands or “otherwise the American hostage held by us will meet his inevitable fate.” He does not specify the demands but says Washington is “aware” of them.
Then Somers is shown, giving a brief statement in English and asking for help.
“It’s now been well over a year since I’ve been kidnapped in Sanaa,” Somers said. “Basically, I’m looking for any help that can get me out of this situation. I’m certain that my life is in danger.”
Impoverished Yemen, troubled both by al-Qaeda and the advance of Shiite rebels, has seen foreigners increasingly targeted in kidnap attempts. The US drone strikes, targeting suspected terrorist gatherings, have become increasingly unpopular in Yemen due to civilian casualties.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.