British-American journalist hostage Luke Somers threatened with execution by al-Qaeda

Luke Somers was kidnapped in September last year

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The Independent Online

A video of al-Qaeda in Yemen threatening to execute a British-American journalist within three days was released yesterday.

Dual British-US citizen Luke Somers was kidnapped from Sanaa, capital of Yemen, on 17 September last year and he appears in the last seconds of a three-minute video featuring a speech by Sheikh Nasser al-Ansi, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Al-Ansi made a statement lasting more than two minutes directed towards the US government, which demands an end to drone strikes and troops.

Mr Somers, 33, then makes an appearance wearing a purple shirt, glasses and has a shaven head before saying: “I’m looking for any help that can get me out of this situation. I’m certain that my life is in danger."


He adds: “So as I sit here now, I ask if anything can be done, please let it be done. Thank you very much.”

Mr Somers was born in Britain but spent most of his life living in the US before working for almost two years in Yemen as a freelance photojournalist, interpreter and copy editor for English-language newspapers.

Al-Ansi said he would give the US government three days to satisfy their demands "otherwise the American hostage held by us will meet his inevitable fate."

The kidnapping and video release of a foreign hostage is the first in Yemen and follows the beheadings of two other American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by Isis militants.

Others executed by the militant group, also known as the Islamic State, are US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig and two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning.

John Cantlie, a 43-year-old photojournalist from Surrey, was abducted a second time by Isis in Syria and has appeared in four videos reading scripts on behalf of his kidnappers.

US Navy Seals are reported by The Times to have raided a rural region in Yemen's eastern area of Hadhramaut on 25 November in search for hostages, however some of them were moved by al-Qaeda two days before the mission.

Eight Yemeni captives have been freed while a British and an American hostage are believed to be among the groups.

Other foreign nationals believed to be held by AQAP include a Saudi diplomat, kidnapped in March 2012, and an Iranian diplomat. A South African man is still missing after his wife was released in January.