President Obama made the right call. President Obama approved the best chance to rescue Luke Somers. Period.
There are voices angry at the outcome because unknown to the rescue unit there was a second hostage, held by al-Qaeda terrorists, in the same building. A South African hostage was also being held with Somers – both died as a result of the terrorists shooting them as the rescue was underway.
Reports are now saying, according to the employer of the South African hostage, Pierre Korkie, he was scheduled to be released as ransom had been paid.
Obviously the outcome is tragic. However, regardless of outcome, President Obama made the right decision. The details are outlined below.
(CNN) — Al Qaeda militants killed two Western hostages in Yemen — an American photojournalist and a South African who was employed by an aid group — during a raid conducted by U.S. forces, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday.
President Barack Obama ordered Friday’s mission to save the American, Luke Somers, because “there were compelling reasons to believe Mr. Somers’ life was in imminent danger,” Hagel said.
A U.S. official said that during the raid, one of the terrorists ran inside the compound and shot the hostages.
A video of Somers pleading for his life was released earlier this week by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The U.S. was given three days to comply with unspecified demands made by the terror group; that time was due to run out.
During the raid, the militants with AQAP also killed South African hostage Pierre Korkie, according to his employer, the relief group Gift of the Givers.
Korkie was to be released on Sunday, the group said in a statement — a fact that may have been missed by the White House.
A senior State Department official told CNN’s Elise Labott that the Obama administration assessed that there were two individuals at the location but did not know one was South African or that negotiations were under way for his release.
On Thursday, the Defense Department became aware that there was enough new intelligence about the location of the hostages to stage a rescue mission, the official said. A senior Defense Department official traveling with Hagel in Afghanistan said that the operation was accelerated because there was intelligence that Somers would be killed on Saturday morning (Eastern Time).
Obama and Hagel were briefed the next day.
Two Osprey aircraft transported a team of about three dozen U.S. Navy SEALs, mainly from SEAL Team Six, and a combat medical team near the captives’ location. There were no Yemeni forces with the U.S. commandos.
The official traveling with Hagel said that once the Ospreys landed, the team had to trek about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to the compound.
They were discovered at about 100 meters from the location where Korkie and Somers were being held, according to that official. The main part of the assault lasted 5-10 minutes.
“They lost the element of surprise at the last minute as they approached the compound,” the official told Starr.
It was not clear where the kidnappers were when the firefight started, but the official speaking with Starr said that U.S. is certain that someone ran back inside the compound and shot Korkie and Somers after the battle broke out. The official would not specify how they could be so certain of that detail. (read more)
…Thoughts and prayers for the families of the victims. In addition, prayers for guiding comfort upon the hearts of the hero’s who bravely carried out the rescue operation…