On their website, the relief organization wrote: “We received with sadness the news that Pierre was killed in an attempt by American Special Forces, in the early hours of this morning, to free hostages in Yemen… Our heartfelt condolences to (his wife) Yolande and her family in this hour of great difficulty.”
Pierre Korkie and Yolande had lived in Yemen for four years where Mrs Korkie did relief work in hospitals and he worked as a teacher – along with their two teenage children. They were taken hostage in Taiz, Yemen’s second largest city, in May 2013.
Yolanda was freed in January through Gift of the Givers. After months of negotiations, Mr. Korkie’s abductors sent word on Nov. 26 they would accept $200,000, to be split with the tribe members.
By Saturday, the money was raised by Mrs. Korkie from friends and other donors. The cars were preparing to leave. She was told “Pierre will be home for Christmas.”
“We certainly did not mean it in the manner it has unfolded,” wrote the group on its website.
The conduct of the U.S. forces who were pursuing the release of an American hostage, Luke Somers, being held at the same site, was found troubling by Gregory D. Johnson, the author of a book on Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, who was nearly kidnapped on the same street in Sana where Mr. Somers was abducted last year.
“When the U.S. unilaterally takes all the other options off the table and leaves itself with only the military option, then if that goes wrong, the results can be tragic,” said the author in a press interview. “There are a lot of different ways to negotiate even without paying ransom. It calls for innovative diplomacy.”
While most countries claim to refuse to consider payment of ransoms, an investigative journalist last July reported in The New York Times that five million euros were delivered in three suitcases to secure the release of a hostage in Mali. It was further learned “that Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates took in at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings cine 2008, of which $66 million was paid just last year.”
According to their website, Gift of the Givers is the largest disaster response NGO of African origin on the African continent. It was established on the instruction of a Sufi Sheik in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1992.
“Our motto is: “Best Among People are those who Benefit Mankind.”