Entries in Somalia (6)


ABC Exclusive: Jessica Buchanan's Dad Says 'Today Is the Big Day'

Danish Refugee Council(PHOENIXVILLE, Pa.) -- The father of rescued American Jessica Buchanan, who flew home to Pennsylvania on Monday, told ABC News "today's the big day."

John Buchanan told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview before Jessica's arrival that his daughter and his family have held up during her captivity and rescue, but the grueling wait is almost over.

"We're doing well as a family, and Jessica, we have not seen her yet -- so today's the big day," he told Sawyer. "We're all extremely excited about that. Obviously, I mean I can't really express it in words what it's going to be like to see her...We're just really looking forward to a great reunion."

Jessica Buchanan left from Sigonella, Italy, a Pentagon official said, and flew in a commercial jetliner to Pennsylvania.

Her father told Sawyer that when he sees his daughter Monday, he just wants to tell her face to face "I love you...and I'm really glad you're OK."

"She's a really unique girl and she's strong and she's motivated and she's very resourceful and, you know, we're all just really proud of her that she came through this the way she did," he said. "The reports we're getting are that she's doing very well. She's physically on the mend and psychologically she's just done great and she's in a good frame of mind."

Jessica Buchanan, 32, 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 Somalis when they were taken and held for ransom.

Over the three months of captivity, concern grew over Buchanan's deteriorating health, which was described as possibly "life-threatening," and a "window of opportunity for mission success" presented itself, according to Pentagon spokesperson George Little.

Buchanan and Thisted were rescued on Wednesday by SEAL Team 6, the same group involved in the mission that killed Osama bin Laden last spring.

The mission to save the aid workers was daring and required the SEALs to parachute from a high altitude to within a few miles of the hideout. Once the SEALa reached the encampment, they killed all nine heavily armed kidnappers and completed the rescue.

"We just can't thank them enough for risking their lives," John Buchanan told ABC News. Buchanan also thanked President Obama for "having the fortitude to make the decision to okay the action" and the FBI for their work behind the scenes from the moment the kidnapping took place.

"The people who work for the FBI are just special people, they're top-notch people," he said.

In Somalia, Buchanan served as a regional education adviser at the Danish Demining Group, a division of the Danish Refugee Council, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Her father said they joked while she was in captivity "that she may have even been teaching those guys English or something, you know her captors, that's the kind of person she is."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jessica Buchanan's Husband Calls Kidnapping 'Three Months of Hell'

Poul Hagen Thisted (L) and Jessica Buchanan (R). Danish Refugee Council(NEW YORK) -- The husband of a rescued American aid worker said the time his wife spent in Somali captivity was "three months of hell" and that he even kept the secret from many of his friends in order to protect her.

"This morning, after going through three months of hell with Somali pirates, my amazing wife was saved by the American military and she is now in safety!" Erik Landemalm wrote on his Facebook in Swedish. "Words cannot describe the joy and relief we feel! Thank you to all that have helped and apologies to all our friends I haven't shared this with. This a day of Happiness!"

Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Danish colleague Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, were rescued early Wednesday by SEAL Team 6 -- the same group involved in the mission that killed Osama bin Laden last spring -- in a daring mission at a remote encampment deep in northern Somalia.

Christina Scolforo, a close friend of Buchanan, says that her abduction was intentionally kept from the media.

"We didn't want them to get media hype that would cause them to think that she was worth more, and they would want more of a ransom, and then it would prolong the time that she was captive, so a lot of it was hush," Scolforo said.

Bachanan's immediate family is now meeting with her at a U.S. military base in Sicily, Italy, members of the woman's extended family told ABC News.

Buchanan and Thisted, who worked with the Danish Refugee Council's Danish Demining Group, were abducted Oct. 25, 2011 by a group of Somali bandits and held for ransom.

In a statement released by the White House, President Obama said he had authorized a rescue mission Monday.

In Somalia Buchanan served as a regional education adviser at the Danish Demining Group, a division of the Danish Refugee Council, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Over the three months of her captivity, concern grew about Buchanan's deteriorating health, which was described as possibly "life-threatening" and a, "window of opportunity for mission success" presented itself, according to Pentagon spokesperson George Little.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rescued American Sold Her Belongings to Become Missionary

Danish Refugee Council(NEW YORK) -- Jessica Buchanan, the woman rescued from Somalia bandits by U.S. special forces, is so dedicated to helping others that she sold all of her belongings to become a missionary in Somalia.

Buchanan, 32, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from Valley Forge University, a Christian college in Phoenixville, Pa., in 2007. She was a student teacher in Africa before graduating and her romance with the continent began.

Buchanan started as a student teacher at Nairobi's Rosslyn Academy in 2007 because of, "God's call on her life to teach overseas," according to her biography on the school's web site. She student taught first and sixth graders before being hired as a fourth grade teacher in 2008.

Buchanan left the school in 2009. She moved to Hargeisa, Somalia with her Danish husband, Erik Landemalm, who she met in Africa.  

Buchanan, 32, was kidnapped on Oct. 25, 2011, along with her Danish co-worker Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, in Galkayo, Somalia. The two worked together for the Danish Demining Group, a division of the Danish Regugee Council, Buchanan served as a regional education adviser, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Over the three months of her captivity, concern grew about Buchanan's deteriorating health, which was described as possibly "life-threatening" and a, "window of opportunity for mission success" presented itself, according to Pentagon spokesperson George Little.

The two were rescued Wednesday by the Navy's elite SEAL Team 6, the same covert group that successfully carried out the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

Buchanan is doing, "as well as you would expect given what she has gone through," a military official told ABC News.

Buchanan is currently at U.S. Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

According to officials, she is expected to be reunited with her family in the next day or two, however the location of the reunion remained unclear.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bodies of Americans Killed By Somali Pirates Headed Home

USS Enterprise. Photo Courtesy - U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) -- The bodies of the four Americans killed after Somali pirates hijacked their yacht headed home on the USS Enterprise from the dangerous waters off the Somali coast Tuesday night, military officials said.  Also on board the massive aircraft carrier were the 15 captured Somali pirates.

American officials have begun the process of determining how they will prosecute the 15 pirates who hijacked the yacht, called the Quest.

"There is an ongoing investigation into the hijacking," Navy Ensign Brynn Olson, spokeswoman for U.S. Central Command, told the Washington Examiner.

The deaths at the hands of pirates increases concern about the growing strength of piracy around the horn of Africa.

Piracy is a "top priority for NATO and there has been an increased presence," Olson said.

Jean and Scott Adam, a retired couple from California, along with their friends, Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle, from Washington state, were sailing the world on a Christian mission to distribute bibles when they were ambushed Feb. 18 by pirates some 300 miles off the Somali coast.

For three harrowing days, the hijacked yacht was sailing toward the Somali coast with four American hostages and 17 pirates packed on board.  President Obama had authorized Navy warships to follow the yacht and use deadly force if needed, hoping to keep the Americans safe.

Officials were negotiating with two pirates on board the destroyer USS Sterett.  In the midst of those negotiations, without warning, pirates on board the hijacked yacht fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Sterett.  Then gunfire was heard onboard the yacht.

The Navy launched 15 Seals in two high-speed assault craft.  Some pirates appeared to surrender.

Despite the efforts of the Navy Seals, it was too late for the hostages. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Four Americans Killed on Pirated Yacht Off Somalia

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Four Americans taken captive by pirates on their yacht off Somalia have been killed.

Jean and Scott Adam, of California, were sailing the world on a Christian mission to distribute bibles when their yacht, the 58-foot S/V Quest, was ambushed by pirates in the notoriously dangerous waters nearly 300 miles off the Somali coast. With the Adams was another couple – Phyllis MacKay and Bob Riggle, of Washington State.

U.S. forces boarded the Quest on Tuesday after hearing shots fired on board. All four Americans were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds.

"We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest," said Gen James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander.

Two pirates were killed by U.S. forces during Tuesday's raid; another two were found dead onboard. Thirteen pirates were captured. U.S. Central Command believes a total of 19 pirates were involved in the yacht’s hijacking.

As the group approached the waters off the Horn of Africa, they cut back using their radios and satellite systems so their location couldn’t be tracked by pirates, but they were still found.

U.S. forces had been monitoring the pirated yacht by air and sea for nearly three days since its capture.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Accused Somali Pirates Head to Trial in US Court

The guided missile frigate USS Nicholas (FFG 47) steams through the Atlantic Ocean in formation, May 7, 2006. Photo Courtesy - Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Joshua Kinter/U.S. Navy(NORFOLK, Va.) -- For the first time in more than a hundred years, American jurors will weigh charges of "piracy under the law of nations" in a case of five Somali men accused of firing on a U.S. warship.

It's one of the oldest laws on the books, dating back to the early part of the 19th Century, when Congress first recognized the power of American courts to punish those who would plunder ships in international waters if the pirates are brought to the United States.  It also happens to be one of the most serious crimes in the U.S. Code, carrying a mandatory life prison sentence upon conviction.

While other alleged pirates from Somalia have recently been brought into U.S. courts, experts say the trial that begins with jury selection in Norfolk, Virginia on Tuesday marks the first time in at least 100 years, and perhaps since the earliest days of the Civil War, that American jurors will hear a case in which the defendants are charged with piracy, specifically, rather than lesser or related counts.

Though the Somali men are accused of violating 11 separate laws altogether, including a series of weapons and explosives charges, a guilty verdict on the single piracy count alone would result in a term of life behind bars.

Federal prosecutors say the Somalis thought they were attacking a merchant ship when they aimed their assault rifles at a U.S. Navy frigate as it patrolled the Indian Ocean in the dead of night on April 1.  The sailors onboard the USS Nicholas, which had been on patrol for pirates, fired back and captured the five men, bringing them to the frigate's home port of Norfolk, the world's largest naval base.

David Bouchard, a defense attorney for the Somalis, says the piracy statute should not apply in this case, since the men never got anywhere close to the Navy ship.

"I think [bringing the piracy charge is] the most absurd thing I've seen the federal government do," Bouchard told ABC News.  "I find it incomprehensible."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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