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Photojournalist killed in rescue attempt

BY ELIZABETH CASELLA
INTERN

Al-Qaida was only two days away from releasing South African hostage Pierre Korkie, who was being held with American photojournalist Luke Somers. However, both were killed after an attempted rescue took place. Somers was taken hostage in September of 2013 in the capital of Yemen by Al-Qaida affiliates in the country.

Korkie was a fellow hostage who was only two days away from being released after negotiations had taken place for almost a year when the rescue attempt by the White House for both of the men took place. The negotiations for Korkie’s release were unknown by the White House at the time of the rescue. Somers died after being transported to a U.S. Navy ship near the area where he was being operated on after being wounded during the rescue attempt. Korkie died while in transit to the ship by helicopter.

On Dec. 7, the raid of the Al-Qaida base took place after a U.S. drone surveyed the area earlier that week. Al-Qaida members shot the Somers, an American, and Korkie, a South African, when an alert of the raid was sent out at the base.

President Obama said in a speech after the mission, “There were compelling reasons to believe Mr. Somers’ life was in imminent danger. The mission was ordered and arranged after a video released by Al-Qaida showed Somers pleading for his life and only a three-day timeline given for demands to be met.”

The Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, backed Obama’s decision for ordering the rescue.

“It is a shame that a journalist had to die during the rescue mission. It happens all the time though that journalists get captured and killed by terrorist groups. I believe that Obama did the right thing by sending in a rescue team though,” said Schoolcraft student Shaun O’Brian.

Korkie and his wife Yolande were kidnapped in May of 2013. The Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula known as the (AQAP) group later decided to release Korkie’s wife. His wife was working with the Gift of the Givers group to work for her husband’s release. The group agreed to pay the ransom to the AQAP. Korkie was an innocent schoolteacher. “I think that the rescue team did all they could do to try and save the two men. It is sad that they could not be brought home alive. The U.S. government does not negotiate with terrorist though, and the president needs to stick to that policy,” said Schoolcraft student Matt Smith.

This was the second attempted rescue mission since Somers has been kidnapped. The first attempt failed for lack of secrecy, as did this attempt. Unfortunately, nothing could be done to save the hostages after the terrorist shot them.