The botched bid to rescue British-born Luke Somers from al-Qaeda terrorists cost a second hostage his life, it emerged yesterday.
American special forces had no idea South African Pierre Korkie was being held with Luke.
Both men were shot dead by their captors as the US Navy Seals battled to reach them.
But it has now been revealed that Pierre, a teacher, was to be set free as a ransom had been paid.
It also appears that the mission was doomed before it started.
The US ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, told the BBC that the rescue, personally authorised by President Obama, had lacked the element of surprise because of threats to kill Somers that they released in a video.
Mr Barzun said: “Sadly, the timetable was set by the hostage takers because they had basically said publicly that they were going to do awful things by a certain date.”
Pierre Korkie had been working with charity Gift of the Givers and colleagues said that the failed rescue attempt had “destroyed everything.”
The charity’s Yemen project director Anas Hamati said: “Pierre Korkie was very sick – he had a hernia. His passport was ready, everything was ready.”
Pierre and his wife Yolande were kidnapped in May last year in Yemen’s second city, Taz. She was freed without a ransom being paid last January and returned to South Africa.
The charity said in a statement: “The psychological and emotional devastation to Yolande and her family will be compounded by the knowledge that Pierre was to be released by al-Qaeda.”
Yesterday Luke’s family paid tribute to the 33-year-old photo-journalist.
Luke had been based in the Yemeni capital Sana’a before being kidnapped in September 2013.
Luke’s step-mother Penny Bearman, 55, of Deal, Kent, said he was loved in Yemen. She added: “Luke was a peace-loving person who cared for the Yemeni people. It’s a tragedy that his life should end in this way.”
His sister Lucy, 25, said: “Luke was loving, creative and curious.”
Luke was abducted last year and appeared in a video last week appealing for help. An al-Qaeda member was filmed threatening to kill him unless unspecified demands were met.
The threat led to President Obama ordering the rescue mission from the terrorists’ hideout in Shabwa province.
Around 100 Seals and Yemeni troops cordoned off the area and stormed into action. At least ten al-Qaeda fighters were killed but both hostages were shot before rescuers could get to them.
President Obama later described the murders as “barbaric” and, after offering “thoughts and prayers” to relatives of the victims, he said: “Their despair and sorrow at this time are beyond words.”