UK

Al Qaeda Threaten To Kill British-Born Photographer Luke Somers, Held Hostage In Yemen

04/12/2014 07:59 GMT | Updated 04/12/2014 08:59 GMT

Al Qaeda has threatened to murder a British-born photographer held hostage by the extremist Islamic group, according to a terrorist monitoring organisation.

Luke Somers, an American citizen, was captured in the Yemeni capital Sana'a more than a year ago and now al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have filmed a video with a message aimed at the US government to kill the hostage if its demands are not met. The video has since been posted on YouTube.

Somers has worked for both the BBC and Al Jazeera, and moved to the country as a teacher, but began documenting the uprisings in the country in 2011, just two weeks after arrivingaccording to a piece on the BBC website. He also took photographs documenting malnutrition in the country, and celebrations of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday.

luke somers

Luke Somers, filmed in the video from AQAP

The video, which the SITE Intelligence Group said had not yet been released publicly, begins with a reading in Arabic from Nasser bin Ali al Ansi, an AQAP official, before Mr Somers appears and gives a statement in English.

He said: "My name is Luke Somers. I'm 33 years old. I was born in England, but I carry American citizenship and have lived in America for most of my life.

"It's now been well over a year since I've been kidnapped in Sana'a. Basically, 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. Thank you very much."

Al Ansi gave the US government three days to meet the demands or "otherwise, the American hostage held by us will meet his inevitable fate".

The three-minute video also features Ansi speaking about American activity in Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq as well as recent air strikes in Syria.

In late November the National Yemen reported that a US Navy SEALs raid alongside Yemeni troops had freed eight hostages from a remote cave in eastern Yemen, mostly Yemeni citizens. The goal for the Americans had been to free Somers, the National Yemen said, but he was not among the rescued.

The paper said that as well as being "the most active photojournalist at Change Square" where much of the revolutionary activities took place, Somers had worked as a copy editor for Yemen Times, the Yemen Observer, and National Yemen, and in 2013 had been working for the National Dialogue.

It follows similar videos by another extremist militant group, Islamic State (IS), which has already killed two British hostages and three American hostages in videos released on social media.

IS has posted a series of videos online showing the separate murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, US aid worker Peter Kassig and two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning.

Footage claiming to show Henning's murder appeared on the internet just days after the UK joined US-led air strikes against the terrorists in Iraq.

And official figures suggest around 500 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for IS, while others have joined up with Kurdish groups to fight against the militants.

The Government last month announced a raft of new anti-extremist measures, including ensuring insurance companies can no longer foot the bill for terrorist ransoms, suspected foreign fighters will be blocked from returning to the UK and powers will be reintroduced to relocate terror suspects across the country.