A U.S. special operations team of Navy SEALs rescued two aid workers in Somalia Tuesday night, including a U.S. woman who had been held hostage for three months by Somali kidnappers and suffered from a life-threatening medical condition.
Jessica Buchanan, 32, of Bedford, Va., and Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, of Denmark, were abducted Oct. 25 by a band of Somalis while on their way to the airport in Galcayo, located in central Somalia. Both were working for the Danish Refugee Council’s Danish Demining Group, and had just finished a training course for local Somali citizens when they were abducted.
In a statement released by the White House, President Obama said he had authorized a rescue mission Monday.
“Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our Special Operations Forces, yesterday Jessica Buchanan was rescued and she is on her way home. 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,” Obama said in the statement.
The president said he spoke with Buchanan’s father Monday night, “and told him that all Americans have Jessica in our thoughts and prayers, and give thanks that she will soon be reunited with her family.
“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. This is yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people,” he added.
Obama made no mention of the successful raid during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, although keen observers noted an interesting exchange with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as he entered the House Chamber.
Obama pointed to Panetta and said, “Leon. Good job tonight. Good job tonight.”
In a statement released today, Panetta said he was pleased that neither Buchanan nor Thisted was harmed during the operation. “This mission demonstrates our military’s commitment to the safety of our fellow citizens wherever they may be around the world,” he said.