Tik Root | The Guardian | Photo: Hani Mohammed/AP
In late September 2013, Paula Somers learned that her son Luke had been kidnapped in Yemen. The next day, four FBI agents showed up at her doorstep in Washington state.
The group – including a hostage negotiator and a victim specialist – came with a slew of questions for Somers and her son, Jordan. Eager to help, they detailed their last communications with Luke, and other information they thought might be useful. At the end of the meeting, the agents left printouts with suggestions on what to do if the kidnapper made contact, along with a cassette player to record a potential call.
The proposed scripts were formulaic at best. The cassette player was broken. It was an ominous start to a more than yearlong engagement with the US government that only went downhill, and ended in Luke’s death.