Al-Qaida has threatened to murder a British-born photographer held hostage by the extremist Islamic group, according to a terrorist monitoring group.
Luke Somers, an American citizen, was captured in the Yemeni capital Sana’a more than a year ago and now al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has issued a video with a message aimed at the US government threatening to kill the hostage if its demands are not met.
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. It follows similar videos by another extremist militant group, “Islamic State” (IS), which has already killed two British 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 Mr 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.
IS militants have launched an attack on a major military air base in eastern Syria that is the last significant government outpost in the extremist-dominated region, activists said.
The airfield, just outside the city of Deir el-Zour, is a key military facility for President Bashar Assad, giving his planes a hub from which to bomb IS-held cities and towns across much of eastern Syria. For IS,, capturing the airport would eliminate the remaining pocket of resistance in the area and provide a major morale and propaganda boost after a string of setbacks.