Special Operations Forces Rescue Hostages in Somalia

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2012 — Spe­cial oper­a­tions forces res­cued an Amer­i­can woman and Dan­ish man who had been held cap­tive in Soma­lia for three months, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma announced ear­ly this morn­ing.

Both are well and are in a secure loca­tion, and there were no Amer­i­can casu­al­ties in the oper­a­tion.

Jes­si­ca Buchanan and Poul Thist­ed were work­ing as part of a Dan­ish dem­i­ning group when Soma­li crim­i­nals kid­napped them near Gal­cayo, Soma­lia, on Oct. 25, accord­ing to a state­ment from Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta. Gal­cayo is near the bor­der with Ethiopia. There was no word where the two were held.

“This suc­cess­ful hostage res­cue, under­tak­en in a hos­tile envi­ron­ment, is a tes­ta­ment to the superb skills of coura­geous ser­vice mem­bers who risked their lives to save oth­ers,” Panet­ta said in the state­ment. “I applaud their efforts, and I am pleased that Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thist­ed were not harmed dur­ing the oper­a­tion.”

The pres­i­dent said he had spo­ken with Buchanan’s father and told him that all Amer­i­cans are thank­ful that his daugh­ter is safe and will soon be home.

“The Unit­ed States will not tol­er­ate the abduc­tion of our peo­ple, and will spare no effort to secure the safe­ty of our cit­i­zens and to bring their cap­tors to jus­tice,” Oba­ma said in his state­ment. “This is yet anoth­er mes­sage to the world that the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca will stand strong­ly against any threats to our peo­ple.”

Panet­ta stressed the res­cue was a team effort and required close coor­di­na­tion between the Defense Depart­ment and the FBI. “They are heroes and con­tin­ue to inspire all of us by their brav­ery and ser­vice to our nation,” Panet­ta wrote.

The Dan­ish Dem­i­ning Group trains local peo­ple to defuse and ren­der safe land­mines and oth­er ord­nance left in the wake of war. In addi­tion to Soma­lia, the group is work­ing in Sri Lan­ka, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Liberia, South Sudan and Ugan­da.

At the begin­ning of the president’s State of the Union address last night, TV cam­eras caught Oba­ma shak­ing Panetta’s hand and say­ing “Good job.” No one knew then what he was talk­ing about.

Dur­ing his address, Oba­ma laud­ed ser­vice mem­bers’ com­mit­ment and abil­i­ty to work togeth­er. The res­cue oper­a­tion is anoth­er exam­ple of that.

“As com­man­der in chief, I could not be proud­er of the troops who car­ried out this mis­sion, and the ded­i­cat­ed pro­fes­sion­als who sup­port­ed their efforts,” the pres­i­dent said in his state­ment.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)