In the early morning hours on Tuesday November 25, 2014 a team of commandos from the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 – they and their Army brothers in Delta have been training for many years now – and the Yemeni counter-terrorism soldiers undertook a daring nighttime hostage rescue in the Yemen’s eastern region of Hadhramaut.
The joint special operations team infiltrated via helicopters a few kilometers from the target objective near Hagr al-Saiaar and walked the rest of the distance under the cover of night. The team assaulted a mountainside cave complex located near the border with Saudi Arabia where they surprised and overtook the militants – members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). After a short firefight, the team killed 7 Al-Qaeda fighters and rescued eight hostages – six Yemeni, one Saudi, and one Ethiopian.
Sources within the Yemeni special operations command confirmed that the rescue force expected five other hostages, including an American journalist to be among those held. One of the rescued hostages told intelligence officials that the five were moved to a different location just two days prior and comprised of citizens from America, Britain, Turkey, Yemen, and South Africa.
JSOC and other U.S. SOF have been long active in the country supporting and undertaking operations against both AQAP and al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa, to include over 115 U.S. drone and air strikes within Yemen. The men on this objective most likely were members of Team 6’s “Black Squadron,” who have a long history of contingency operations in the Horn and Arabian Peninsula.
This unique squadron within the unit takes already seasoned operators from the assault squadrons and further trains them in advanced reconnaissance and surveillance, human intelligence operations, and other advanced tradecraft skill sets that are required on more complicated missions in these restrictive areas. This unit is similar in training, composition, and abilities to the Delta “Recce Troops” that reside within their assault squadrons.
This operation paints a clear picture of the ongoing U.S. commitment to assist the Yemeni government in their battle with Al-Qaeda forces who have created a stronghold in the eastern part of the country. In April of 2014 the U.S. participated in another anti-terror operation when pilots from the Army’s 160th Night Stalkers participated in a Yemeni-led multi-day operation against al-Qaeda. The Night Stalker pilots flew the large Yemeni counter-terrorism force using Russian-built Yemeni helicopters, most likely the Mi-17, under cover of darkness to the target objective. That operation led to the death of 65 Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants.
(Featured Image Courtesy: EPA)