Luke Daniel Somers
|Died||December 6, 2014 (aged 33)|
|Nationality||United Kingdom/United States|
|Alma mater||Beloit College (2008)|
Luke Daniel Somers (1981 – 6 December 2014) was a British-born American photojournalist who had been held hostage by the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen. He was a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States. He traveled to Egypt before settling in Yemen.
Somers was described by his friend as "a great man with a kind heart who really loves the Yemeni people and the country ... He was so dedicated in trying to help change Yemen's future, to do good things for the people that he didn't leave the country [Yemen] his entire time here."
Early life and education
Somers was born in London, England but grew up in Sacramento, California and Renton, Washington. He graduated from Beloit College in Wisconsin with a bachelor's degree in creative writing in 2008, and later traveled to Egypt before settling in Yemen.
His work was featured at the 2016 Yemeni Film & Arts Festival in New York. They were part of an exhibit at New York University's Kevorkian Center in Manhattan.
In December 2014, Somers appeared in a video that was issued by AQAP. The video, which is aimed at the United States government, includes an AQAP official saying that the United States has three days to meet their demands. In the video, the official also says that "otherwise the American hostage held by us will meet his inevitable fate." The video does not specify the demands AQAP want the United States to meet. The mission to rescue Somers was disclosed in response to the release of the video by AQAP.
Somers' mother and brother posted a video online in response to the AQAP's video. In the video, they pleaded with AQAP to "show mercy," and appealed for Somers' release. They also said Somers was only "trying to do good things for the Yemeni population."
Numerous news organizations, friends around the world, and family mobilized to save Somers. Yemen's The National newspaper appealed to save Somers' life, as did the Committee to Protect Journalists. Friends of Luke Somers also organized petitions, vigils, Twitter pages, and Facebook groups to gather support for his safe release.
First rescue attempt
After being authorized to do so by President of the United States Barack Obama, the Pentagon launched a secret mission to attempt to rescue Somers in November 2014, but the mission was unsuccessful. On December 4, they disclosed the fact that this mission had occurred.
The mission, an assault on a cave in remote Hagr As Sai'ar District in Hadhramaut Governorate, was successful in freeing six Yemenis, an Ethiopian and a Saudi, but none of the Western hostages, including Somers, were found.
Details surrounding the mission remain classified as of December 4, 2014. It is believed that Somers had been moved from the hostage site before the special operators in the mission arrived there. Previous intelligence indicated that some hostages had been moved several days earlier, but it was not then known if Somers was among them.
On December 6, 2014, about 40 US special operations forces were involved in the attempt to rescue Luke Somers and Pierre Korkie, a South African teacher also held by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, which followed US drone strikes in the area. The rescuers, backed by Yemeni ground forces, advanced within 100 meters of the compound in Shabwah Governorate when they were spotted by the militants. A firefight ensued. When the American soldiers finally entered the building where Somers and Korkie were kept, they found both men alive, but gravely wounded. The US forces pulled Somers and Korkie onto V-22 Ospreys, and medical teams began performing surgery in midair. Korkie died during the flight and Somers died after the Ospreys landed on the USS Makin Island.
Information "indicated that Luke's life was in imminent danger," said US President Barack Obama. "Based on this assessment, and as soon as there was reliable intelligence and an operational plan, I authorized a rescue attempt." He condemned the "barbaric murder" of Somers. "The callous disregard for Luke's life is more proof of the depths of AQAP's depravity, and further reason why the world must never cease in seeking to defeat their evil ideology," Obama said in a statement.
- Al-Qaida threatens to kill U.S. photojournalist, UPI.com; accessed December 6, 2014.
- Hostages Luke Somers and Pierre Korkie killed during rescue attempt in Yemen, cbc.ca; accessed December 7, 2014.
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- UK Birth Registers, Westminster, vol 15, p. 2279
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- Staff, Associated Press. "Luke Somers, American Killed In Yemen, Had 'Wanderlust'". HuffingtonPost.
- The Associated Press. "Luke Somers, American Killed In Yemen, Had 'Wanderlust'". HuffingtonPost.
- TIK ROOT (December 6, 2014). "My colleague Luke Somers and the photos he took before his capture and death at the hands of Al-Qaida". PBS.org. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Somers' work for Al Jazeera". Al Jazeera. December 5, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Alastair Jamieson, Jim Miklaszewski and Charlene Gubash (December 6, 2014). "U.S. Hostage Luke Somers Killed During Yemen Rescue Bid". NBC News. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
Somers, a teacher and photographer, was abducted a year ago in Sanaa where he had been working as a freelance photographer for the Yemen Times.
- Ahmed Al-Haj (December 4, 2014). "Beloit College grad threatened by Yemen's al-Qaida in new video". The Daily Cardinal. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
Somers was kidnapped in September 2013 from a street in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, where he worked as a freelancer for the Yemen Times.
- Associated Press (April 5, 2016). "Yemeni Arts Festival Features Photos by Former US Hostage". ABCNews.go.com. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
- "Luke Somers". LukeSomers. December 6, 2014. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
- "Luke Somers". LukeSomers. December 6, 2014. Archived from the original on January 2, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- TIK ROOT (December 6, 2014). "My colleague Luke Somers and the photos he took before his capture and death at the hands of Al-Qaida". PBS. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "U.S. discloses failed attempt to rescue American in Yemen". Reuters. December 4, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Kareem Fahim and Eric Schmitt (December 6, 2014). "2 Hostages Killed in Yemen as U.S. Rescue Effort Fails". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
He had been captured by Al Qaeda.
- Staff (December 4, 2014). "Al-Qaida hostage Luke Somers shown in video". The Guardian. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Associated Press (December 4, 2014). "Pentagon confirms failed effort to rescue Somers". Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Hameed, Mustafa (December 4, 2014). "American Hostage Luke Somers' Mother to Al Qaeda: 'Please, Show Mercy'". ABC News. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
- "Luke Somers: Yemen hostage's family in video appeal". BBC News. December 5, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Fakhri Al-Arashi (December 4, 2014). "National Yemen Newspaper Appeals Al-Qaeda To Save Luke Somers's Life". Yemen National. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Staff (December 4, 2014). "CPJ calls for release of U.S. journalist held in Yemen". CPJ.org. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Free Luke Somers". December 3, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Free Luke Somers". December 3, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Goldman, Adam (December 3, 2014). "Al-Qaeda affiliate threatens to kill U.S. hostage after rescue attempt in Yemen". Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "US Acknowledges Rescue Mission in Yemen Last Week to Rescue Luke Somers", ABCNews.go.com; accessed December 7, 2014.
- "Timeline: How US Missed the Chance to Rescue Luke Somers, American Al Qaeda Hostage". ABC News. December 4, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "US forces raid al-Qaeda hideout in Yemen; hostages reported killed". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Barack Obama condemns 'barbaric murder' of Luke Somers". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "American Hostage Luke Somers Killed in Rescue Attempt". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "US hostage Luke Somers dies after rescue bid". BBC News. Retrieved December 7, 2014.