Yemen's Qaeda threatens to kill US hostage in video

Yemen's Qaeda threatens to kill US hostage in video
Luke Somers, a 33-year old journalist, appears at the end of a video released by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, saying that his "life is in danger".
2 min read
04 December, 2014
Hadhramaut, where Somers is believed to be, is largely beyond the Yemeni government's control (AFP)
Yemen's local affiliate of al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has threatened to kill Luke Somers, a British-born American journalist who was kidnapped in Sanaa in September last year.

The threat came in a video posted on Wednesday night, and follows a raid last week by United States commandos and Yemeni troops in Hadhramaut, eastern Yemen. Eight hostages were freed in the raid and the militants holding them were killed.

Appearing composed, Somers addresses the camera while seated in front of green trees.

"I'm looking for any help that can get me out of this situation," Somers said. "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."

Immediately preceding Somers' appearance was a statement by an AQAP leader, Nasr al-Anesi, in which he directly referred to last week's raid, saying that a number of militants had been killed, and warning the US government to not attempt a similar move again.

"We give the US government three days... to meet our demands," al-Anesi said. "Or else our American hostage will meet his fate."

It is unclear what AQAP's demands are, but an investigation by the New York Times this year discovered that al-Qaeda had made at least $125 million from kidnappings since 2008.

AQAP also regularly make reference to an end to US drone strikes in Yemen, which have killed numerous AQAP militants, as well as civilians.

Freeing Somers, along with a British and South African hostage, may have been the target of the US-Yemeni raid last week.

They are believed to have been moved from the location targeted only days before the raid.

Local press are reporting that Rasheed al-Habshi, a Yemeni government employee kidnapped by AQAP earlier this year, has been found dead in the town of al-Qatn, Hadhramaut.

Al-Habshi is believed to have been in the group of hostages moved with Somers, and was accused by AQAP of being a spy - something his family denied.

Yemen is a key US ally in the fight against al-Qaeda, 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.