official, the U.S
LONDON — Relatives of Luke Somers, an American photojournalist killed during an attempted U.S. rescue mission in Yemen over the weekend, have blasted the American government for what they say was unnecessary military action that prompted his al Qaeda captors to slay him.
According to a senior Obama administration official, the U.S. believes a militant shot the two men during the Saturday raid by dozens of U.S. Special Forces in the mountains of Yemen, CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan reported.
President Obama authorized the raid on short notice, believing there was an «imminent danger» to Somers’ life. The 33 year old, who was born in Britain but lived most of his life in the U.S. and held dual nationality, had been held by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) for more than a year.
South African Pierre Korkie and Somers were still alive but had recently been wounded when Navy SEALs pulled them from a building in an AQAP compound and got them aboard an Osprey aircraft with a surgeon, the U.S. official told Brennan. One of the hostages died en route to a U.S. Navy ship while the other died aboard the ship.
Penny Bearman, Somer’s stepmother, and his half-sister Lucy Somers told Britain’s the Times they were «quite angry because if there had not been a rescue attempt he would still be alive.»
While AQAP issued a video on Thursday threatening Somers if the U.S. failed to meet the group’s unspoken demands, Bearman told the paper «there had been threats before that had not been carried out.»
«We are sure Luke would have given support to the ongoing discussions (to secure his release) in Yemen rather than the conflict approach,» she told the paper. She also said the family had been «kept in the dark» about the U.S. government’s plans to launch rescue attempts.
The video threat to Somers’ life came quickly after a first failed U.S. rescue attempt . That raid, on Nov. 25, did free eight others being held by AQAP, but Somers was moved shortly before the U.S. troops arrived.
Brennan reported that, according to the senior U.S. official, 온라인카지노 the U.S. did not have any reason to believe AQAP was going to spare Somers’ life at the end of the 72-hour window that they publicly announced in the video. The belief was always that AQAP was going to execute him, which is why the raid was conducted.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the rescue mission early Saturday morning was «extremely well executed,» but was complicated and risky. The two men «were murdered by the AQAP terrorists during the course of the operation,» Hagel said during a visit to Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, a charity that had been working to negotiate the release of Korkie told the Times the raid had «destroyed everything.» Korkie was reportedly set to be freed by AQAP on Sunday. Anas Hamati, of the Gift of the Givers’ charity, told the Times, «his passport was ready, everything was ready.»