One of the most challenging operations for Special Forces is the rescue of a hostage. Being able to use the element of surprise and kill or capture the hostage takers before they are able to kill the hostage takes a level of daring, luck and mostly hostage rescue skills. Anything can go wrong during a hostage rescue and when things do go wrong the end result can be the death of the hostage.
On June 7, 2002, Martin Burnham, an American Missionary in the Philippines was killed during a rescue attempt. Gracia Burnham, his wife survived after being shot. The Burhams were held in the dense Philippine jungle by the Abu Sayyaf for 377 days. Luke Somers, a photojournalist was kidnapped by AQAP in Yemen. The terrorists threated to kill him and issued a deadline. On December 6, 2014, after a daring raid by US Special Forces, a dog barked as the rescue force closed on the target. When the dog barked, one of Somers’ guards shot him before he could be rescued. Somers and South African Pierre Korkie were both shot by the AQAP guards.
Eighteen months ago, Robert Semple, a British citizen was working as an engineer for Intraces in Yemen. Semple was forced by four gunmen out of the vehicle he was traveling in Hadramawt Province. United Arab Emirates Special Forces were able to rescue Semple and move him to Aden, Yemen. Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted “I’m so pleased for the family of the British hostage in Yemen – who has been released safe and well. Thanks to the UAE for their help.” A great effort to rescue Semple and return him to his family. UAE military forces have been battling Houthi fighters aligned with former President Saleh against the military forces of current President Hadi.