Obama ‘could not be prouder’ of heroic Navy SEALs for Somalia rescue
Same team took out Osama bin Laden in 2011By Joseph Straw In Washington AND Larry Mcshane
January 26, 2012
Score one more for Navy SEAL Team 6.
The audacious heroes responsible for killing Al Qaeda kingpin Osama Bin Laden stormed an armed Somalian camp to rescue an ailing American do-gooder kidnapped three months ago with a Danish man.
President Obama approved the daring plan Monday, the rescuers were on the ground Tuesday, and the two hostages were headed for emotional family reunions Wednesday.
The SEALs killed nine of the kidnappers and seized three more before springing Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, in a heart-stopping nighttime raid.
The rescue came eight months after the same unit killed World Trade Center mastermind Bin Laden in Pakistan, dramatically ending the decade-long hunt for the terrorist.
“It’s hard to imagine the discipline, the training and the guts” of the elite fighting unit, said Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.), head of the House Homeland Security Committee.
“There’s no doubt that our special forces are the best in the world.”
Reports that hostage Buchanan had a worsening kidney ailment prompted the president to send the rescue mission into high gear in the last week.
The New York FBI office, though not involved in the raid, helped with the kidnapping investigation, a source told the Daily News.
Obama delivered his State of the Union address barely two hours after the hostages were freed.
Although he maintained the veil of secrecy, the president gave a sotto voce shout-out to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as he walked to the podium.
“Good job tonight, good job,” said Obama, pointing toward a widely smiling Panetta.
The president learned of the mission’s success at 6:43 p.m. Tuesday during a day of constant updates from his counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan.
Four hours later, he dialed Jessica Buchanan’s dad John with word of the successful strike to liberate his daughter.
Buchanan and Thisted were working for the Danish Refugee Council, which clears mines and unexploded bombs in Africa and the Middle East, when they were kidnapped by armed attackers.
U.S. officials confirmed after the rescue that the kidnappers — much like the Somali pirates operating off the country’s coast — demanded an unspecified ransom for the hostages.
Diplomatic efforts to free the pair failed in the weeks before SEAL Team 6 began parachuting from U.S. Air Force aircraft into the darkness outside the Somali town of Adado.
The U.S. team, now on foot, surprised the guards — including some who were stoned and sleeping after chewing the narcotic leaf gat while on duty, The Associated Press reported.
A firefight followed, with the hostages and the SEALs emerging unscathed from their encounter with the heavily-armed guards, said Pentagon spokesman George Little.
There were also explosives nearby, he said.
The two ex-hostages were winging their way toward family reunions at an U.S. military base, likely in Djibouti, within hours of their rescue.
Each was able to call relatives with the first bit of good news since their Oct. 25 abduction.
Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal confirmed that “one of the hostages has a disease that was very serious and that had to be solved” — and he congratulated the U.S. for its bold rescue.
Buchanan lived in Kenya and worked at a school in Nairobi before heading to Somalia.
She is a 2007 graduate of Valley Forge Christian College in Pennsylvania, a school that prepares “individuals for a life of service and leadership in the church and the world.”
“We are all rejoicing in the wonderful news about Jessica Buchanan's release,” said school president Don Meyer. “We have Jessica in our thoughts and prayers, and give thanks to all of those that have been keeping her and her family in prayer.”