Yesterday an attempt was made to rescue hostages by al Qaeda in Yemen. The attack succeeded but the hostages were either dead or mortally wounded when rescued by US forces:
Two hostages, including an American journalist, who were being held by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen were killed during a rescue attempt by United States commandos early Saturday, American officials said.
In a statement, President Obama said the hostages had been “murdered” by militants belonging to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula during the rescue operation. A senior United States official said that the American, Luke Somers, 33, was badly wounded when commandos reached him. By the time Mr. Somers was flown to a United States naval ship in the region, he had died from his injuries, the official said Saturday.
The other hostage was identified as Pierre Korkie, a South African citizen, according to a brief statement posted on the website of Gift of the Givers, a disaster relief organization that was trying to negotiate his release.
We should give Obama credit in this instance. Hostage rescue is a high risk operation and it has become even more high risk as US special operations forces have shown they can reach into areas al Qaeda previously considered safe. Increased security and vigilance on the part of the enemy increases the chance that the hostages are not present or that they will be killed as their captors flee the area. Expecting our forces to bat 1.000 is simply not realistic.
Predictably, the locals are playing victim here:
The tribal leader who said he witnessed the raid, Tarek al-Daghari al-Awlaki, said helicopters and as many as a hundred troops descended on the village, Wadi Abadan. The U.S. forces deployed concussion grenades as they raided four houses in the village, he said.
“The shooting caused panic,” Mr. Daghari said. “Nine of the dead are from my tribe. Two of the dead are known to be members of Al Qaeda.” He said that two wounded civilians, a woman and a child, were taken to a nearby hospital.
He sort of loses sight of the fact that his people were killed because he was allowing a terrorist organization to shelter in his village. So I feel sorry for him in the same way that I feel sorry for a dead dog in the road… if he’d but stayed on the sidewalk this never would have happened.
If we are to actively prosecute this ongoing war, regardless of what the administration may want to call it, against al Qaeda and ISIS we have to do so knowing that every operation will not be flawless and we have to have the political will to persist in our efforts even when the primary objective is not achieved.