13 people died in Luke Somers rescue mission

The mission to rescue American hostage Luke Somers from the clutches of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninnsula resulted in the deaths of 13 people, including the hostages.

Apparently, the element of surprise for special operators taking part in the mission was lost when a dog began barking as they approached the hostages' location. This resulted in a firefight that saw several civilians, as well as 3 terrorists, lose their lives.

Reuters:

A woman, a 10-year-old boy and a local al Qaeda leader were among at least 11 people killed alongside two Western hostages when U.S.-led forces fought Islamist militants in a failed rescue mission in Yemen, residents said on Sunday.

U.S. special forces raided the village of Dafaar in Shabwa province, a militant stronghold in southern Yemen, shortly after midnight on Saturday, killing several members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

American journalist Luke Somers, 33, and South African teacher Pierre Korkie, 56, were shot and killed by their captors during the raid intended to free them, U.S. officials said.

Apart from the woman and the boy, reports on social media feeds of known militants said an AQAP commander and two members of the group were killed. Six other members of the same tribe also died, the reports said, although they could not be immediately verified.

The commander, identified as Jamal Mubarak al-Hard al-Daghari al-Awlaki, appeared to be the same person as Mubarak al-Harad, named by the Yemen Defence Ministry on Saturday as the leader of an AQAP group.

Several of those said by militants to have died were from the Daghari and Awlaki families, important tribes in Shabwa province. Yemen's government said on Saturday the hostages were being held in the house of a man named Saeed al-Daghari.

As special forces battled al Qaeda militants in the house, kidnappers in another building nearby shot the two hostages, a local man who identified himself as Jamal said.

U.S. officials have said the raid was carried out by U.S. forces alone, but Yemen's government and local residents said Yemeni forces also participated.

"Before the gunshots were heard, very strong floodlights turned the night into daylight, and then we heard loud explosions," Jamal told Reuters. "The soldiers were calling on the house's inhabitants to surrender and the speaker was clearly a Yemeni soldier," he added.

Another witness, named Abdullah, said the Yemeni army had blocked access to the area before the raid began.

"When the forces withdrew, we found lots of bloodstains, but did not know if those were of the soldiers or the hostages," Abdullah said.

I don't think any blame should fall on the US for the failure of this raid. Clearly, it was Somers' only chance at staying alive and our special operators - the best in the world - gave him his best shot at survival.

According to this piece in the Washington Post, only about 50% of hostage rescue missions succeed. But those are odds I'd be more than willing to accept if I was being held by terrorists, and I think most Americans would agree.

With two other hostages held by AQAP and at least 4 more held by Islamic State, the question of future rescue missions is under review. Should we pay ransom for the hostatges as most European countries do? The question goes to the notion that we can trust the terrorists to keep their word - a dubious proposition under the best of circumstances. Besides, there is always the fear that paying ransome will only increase the risk that others will be taken as smaller militias and terror groups seek to cash in by capturing an American and selling them to AQAP or IS. That would only compound the rescue problem by increasing the number of hostages to be saved.

Should families or private concerns be allowed to negotiate with the terrorists? It's hard to look a parent of a hostage in the eye and tell them they can't do everything in their power to save their child. But if we're going to adhere to a policy of no ransom, it would be difficult to justify allowing families to make their own deals with terrorists.

So for the moment, the best policy seems to be to continue trying to pinpoint the location of the hostages and leave their fate in the hands of our special operators. Hardly a satisfying solution for the families, but given national priorities and the survival of the hostages, it's the best we can do.

 

 

The mission to rescue American hostage Luke Somers from the clutches of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninnsula resulted in the deaths of 13 people, including the hostages.

Apparently, the element of surprise for special operators taking part in the mission was lost when a dog began barking as they approached the hostages' location. This resulted in a firefight that saw several civilians, as well as 3 terrorists, lose their lives.

Reuters:

A woman, a 10-year-old boy and a local al Qaeda leader were among at least 11 people killed alongside two Western hostages when U.S.-led forces fought Islamist militants in a failed rescue mission in Yemen, residents said on Sunday.

U.S. special forces raided the village of Dafaar in Shabwa province, a militant stronghold in southern Yemen, shortly after midnight on Saturday, killing several members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

American journalist Luke Somers, 33, and South African teacher Pierre Korkie, 56, were shot and killed by their captors during the raid intended to free them, U.S. officials said.

Apart from the woman and the boy, reports on social media feeds of known militants said an AQAP commander and two members of the group were killed. Six other members of the same tribe also died, the reports said, although they could not be immediately verified.

The commander, identified as Jamal Mubarak al-Hard al-Daghari al-Awlaki, appeared to be the same person as Mubarak al-Harad, named by the Yemen Defence Ministry on Saturday as the leader of an AQAP group.

Several of those said by militants to have died were from the Daghari and Awlaki families, important tribes in Shabwa province. Yemen's government said on Saturday the hostages were being held in the house of a man named Saeed al-Daghari.

As special forces battled al Qaeda militants in the house, kidnappers in another building nearby shot the two hostages, a local man who identified himself as Jamal said.

U.S. officials have said the raid was carried out by U.S. forces alone, but Yemen's government and local residents said Yemeni forces also participated.

"Before the gunshots were heard, very strong floodlights turned the night into daylight, and then we heard loud explosions," Jamal told Reuters. "The soldiers were calling on the house's inhabitants to surrender and the speaker was clearly a Yemeni soldier," he added.

Another witness, named Abdullah, said the Yemeni army had blocked access to the area before the raid began.

"When the forces withdrew, we found lots of bloodstains, but did not know if those were of the soldiers or the hostages," Abdullah said.

I don't think any blame should fall on the US for the failure of this raid. Clearly, it was Somers' only chance at staying alive and our special operators - the best in the world - gave him his best shot at survival.

According to this piece in the Washington Post, only about 50% of hostage rescue missions succeed. But those are odds I'd be more than willing to accept if I was being held by terrorists, and I think most Americans would agree.

With two other hostages held by AQAP and at least 4 more held by Islamic State, the question of future rescue missions is under review. Should we pay ransom for the hostatges as most European countries do? The question goes to the notion that we can trust the terrorists to keep their word - a dubious proposition under the best of circumstances. Besides, there is always the fear that paying ransome will only increase the risk that others will be taken as smaller militias and terror groups seek to cash in by capturing an American and selling them to AQAP or IS. That would only compound the rescue problem by increasing the number of hostages to be saved.

Should families or private concerns be allowed to negotiate with the terrorists? It's hard to look a parent of a hostage in the eye and tell them they can't do everything in their power to save their child. But if we're going to adhere to a policy of no ransom, it would be difficult to justify allowing families to make their own deals with terrorists.

So for the moment, the best policy seems to be to continue trying to pinpoint the location of the hostages and leave their fate in the hands of our special operators. Hardly a satisfying solution for the families, but given national priorities and the survival of the hostages, it's the best we can do.