An American journalist held hostage by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen was one of the key targets of a pre-dawn raid by U.S. Special Operations troops and Yemeni forces Tuesday, the New York Timesreported.
When the rescuers raided the militants’ shelter in a mountainside cave, they found six Yemeni hostages, a Saudi and an Ethiopian who were also held, but not the American, the Times said.
About two dozen Navy SEALs led a small number of Yemeni troops, who had been trained by Americans in counterterrorism, on the mission.
They flew into eastern Yemen by helicopter and then hiked several miles in the dark to the cave to free the hostages.
The New York Times said it withheld the information about the American, whose name it is also withholding, in reports on Tuesday and Wednesday at the request of the Obama administration, due to concern that the American’s safety and future rescue attempts could be jeopardized.
The Times reported that the military in Yemen gave an account from a freed hostage Wednesday who said five other hostages, including the American journalist, a Briton and a South African, were moved from the cave two days before the raid.
The National Security Council and the Defense Department declined to comment, theTimes said.
The operation was carried out at the request of Yemen’s President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and was, “at least partly an attempt to bolster the stature of Mr. Hadi, a committed but wobbling United States ally whose authority was badly undermined when a rebel group suddenly seized control of Yemen’s capital in September,” according to the Times.