Statement by Secretary Kerry on the Death of Luke Somers


December 6, 2014 

The murder of Luke Somers by his captors during a rescue operation is a reminder of the brutality of the terrorists of Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).  They have again demonstrated their cruelty and their disdain for human life, freedom, and the Yemeni people whom they terrorize daily.

Earlier this week, AQAP released a video announcing that Luke would be murdered within 72 hours.  Along with other information, there was a compelling indication that Luke’s life was in immediate danger, and so we recommended that the President authorize an attempt to rescue Luke.  Tragically, Luke and a foreign national hostage were killed by their captors during the course of that operation.

Even in our grief, we couldn’t be more proud of the brave men and women of the U.S. military who twice risked their lives in operations to try and bring Luke home safely.  We also appreciate the efforts of the dedicated intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic professionals who supported these operations, and we are particularly grateful to the Yemeni government, under the leadership of President Hadi, for their critical and supportive role in trying to liberate this young American from unfathomable captivity, and for their enduring partnership in combating the scourge of AQAP.

AQAP knows how to hate, they know how to murder, and now they have robbed a family of an idealistic young photojournalist who went to Yemen to practice his calling and document the lives of ordinary Yemenis.  As a parent, I know there are no words that can assuage the loss that Luke’s family has suffered, or the anguish of the family of the second hostage who was killed.  There’s no way to wipe away their pain.  But Teresa and I both pray that they can find some small solace in knowing that the United States government and all of our people grieve with them, and that there were brave Americans in uniform willing to lay down their own lives so that they had a chance to live.  We also pray for the families of all the innocents who are held against their will, whose safe return we work towards every day.