Al Qaeda has threatened to execute a British-American photojournalist it kidnapped in Yemen, according to a video obtained by the terrorist monitoring group SITE on Wednesday night. Al Qaeda’s Yemeni offshoot, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said that it would execute Luke Somers, 33, unless their demands were met by the U.S. government.
Somers, a dual British-U.S. citizen, has been in AQAP custody since his kidnapping from Sana’a on Sept. 17, 2013. A rescue operation by U.S. forces last week failed to free Somers and five other hostages, who were thought to have been moved to another location by the terrorist group.
Somers was born in Britain but spent most of his life in the U.S., according to The Independent. Prior to his kidnapping, Somers worked for two years in Yemen as a photojournalist and interpreter for English-language newspapers. He had arrived in the country in 2010 on a teaching visa, but switched to journalism shortly after, reported ABC. Somers began photographing civilian protests and his work appeared on websites including the BBC’s.
The photojournalist was captured while doing translation work for Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference, an initiative set up to help the country through its political transition following the ouster of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The exact circumstances around his abduction remain unclear. His plight has been given very little publicity by the U.S. government, which, along with other Western governments, prefers to keep hostages out of the media spotlight during negotiations to free them, according to ABC.
“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,” Somers pleaded in the video. The video is thought to be the first of its kind released in Yemen, which continues to battle an al Qaeda insurgency in the south.