The militant group has given Washington just three days to meet demands that were not specified. The group denounced action by the U.S. in the country in a video that was released on Thursday.
Luke Somers who is 33 was identified as the hostage. Somers is a photojournalist who was born in Britain, but is an American citizen.
The video mimics some of the ones used by the rivals of al-Qaeda, the Islamic State militant group, which has executed several British and American hostages following the group’s blitz this summer that captured large areas in Syria and Iraq.
The fighters from IS have sometimes battled those from al-Qaeda and has resulted in some defections from both sides.
Somers was in Sanaa the capital of Yemen when kidnapped in September of 2013. He had been working in Sanaa for the Yemen Times.
Since Somers was captured, Yemeni photojournalists have staged sit-ins to press the government into seeking his release.
It is thought that Somers was amongst a group of hostages that had been the objective of a rescue mission jointly carried out by U.S. forces and troops from Yemen in November. The rescue operation freed eight of the people held hostage.
At that time, an official from Yemen said the rescue mission that was carried out in a desert area in a safe haven for al-Qaeda not too far from the border with Saudi Arabia, did not free five hostages including a Briton and an American journalist.
The five are said to have been moved to another location by the captors only days prior to the raid.
Officials did not identify the American by name. In addition, the U.S. participation in the raid was not confirmed officially.
The U.S. commandos participating in the rescue was a rare instance where U.S. forces helped intervene in the ground inside Yemen.
In the video of three minutes, Somers appears to be somber and reads a statement requesting help.
He asked for anyone to help him and said he was certain his life was in danger.
Prior to Somers making his statement local commander for al-Qaeda Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi read in Arabic and spoke of alleged crimes by Americans against Muslims.