The mission to rescue U.S. hostage Luke Somers in Yemen ended with his death, but the White House says it should still send a message to militants that the kidnapping of Americans won't be tolerated.
"The president does not at all regret ordering this mission to try to rescue Mr. Somers," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, adding that it was "apparent" the captors planned to execute the freelance photojournalist within hours.
Somers, 33, was held for a year by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula before the U.S. military attempted to rescue him almost two weeks ago, only to find he was not at the targeted location.
The militants then released a video threatening to kill Somers in three days if their demands were not met, setting the stage for a second commando raid.
In that operation, Somers' captors were somehow alerted to the approaching military team — possibly by a barking dog — and shot him and South African hostage Pierre Korkie, whose release was reportedly imminent. Six militants were also killed in the ensuing firefight.
Despite the tragic end to the mission, Earnest said it "should be taken by militants around the world as a clear sign of this president’s resolve to do everything possible to rescue Americans who are being held hostage anywhere around the globe.
"Militants or extremist organizations that decide to take the risk of taking an American hostage are put on notice today," he added.