Al Qaeda in Yemen Threatens to Execute American Hostage

December 4, 2014  

Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen has threatened to execute a British-born American journalist if its demands are not met within three days.

33-year-old Luke Somers was kidnapped by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in September 2013 in the Yemeni capital Sana’a. US special forces reportedly attempted to free him as recently as November 25, but succeeded only in freeing a number of Saudi and Yemeni hostages after terrorists moved Somers to a different location shortly before the operation.

In the three-minute video released Wednesday senior AQAP’s figure Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi appears sitting at a desk with his face uncovered, calmly reading a list of grievances against the US including military operations in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan. He then warns the US that it has “a time-frame of three days from the issuance of this statement to meet our demands about which they are aware.”

“Otherwise, the American hostage held by us will meet his inevitable fate. We warn Obama and the American government of the consequences of proceeding ahead in any other foolish action.”

However reports suggest both US and Yemeni officials are not in fact clear as to what AQAP is demanding in return for Somers, although it has been speculated that the group wants to see a prisoner exchange similar to the one conducted with the Taliban in exchange for US soldier Bowe Bergdahl.

Somers also addresses the camera, looking composed but notably thinner than in previous videos.

“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,” he begins.

“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.”

The video follows a string of several similar ones from Al Qaeda’s rivals in the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) and its affiliates in northern Africa, who have executed several western hostages after similar videos in which they plea for their lives.

There are however several noticeable differences between those videos and this one by AQAP.

Apart from the fact that al-Ansi does not bother to cover his face – apparently feeling secure enough in the lawless desert expanses of Al Qaeda-held territory in the country – Somers is seen dressed in a plain button-down shirt and not an orange jumpsuit, which jihadis have often forced western hostages to wear. In addition, Somers appears alone, without any armed jihadis lurking threateningly in the background, as is usually the case in such videos.

It is unclear what response, if any, has been made by the US government to Somers’ captives following the footage.

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