The overall mission involved participants from various services that Little and Kirby declined to identify, but a U. S. official said that Navy SEALS conducted the rescue mission on the ground and that they were from SEAL Team Six -- the same team that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011, though not necessarily the same individuals that participated in that raid.
Few aid groups continue to operate inside Somalia because of the risks involved in conducting relief operations in one of the world most dangerous countries. The country has been ravaged by conflict for the past decade and an Islamic militant extremist group known as al-Shabaab has been a focus of U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the country.
U.S. officials said that the Somalis who kidnapped Buchanan and Thisted were organized criminals and not members of al-Shabaab. The officials say the bandits were also not believed to have ties to the pirates who operate in the waters off of East Africa prowling for commercial ships to hold for ransom, making the waters off Somalia some of the most dangerous in the world.
Buchanan joined DDG as a trainee in May 2010 and by January 2011 had become an education adviser for the group.
Andreas Camm, a spokesman for the Danish Refugee Council, told ABC News that Buchanan "has been very strong during this crisis when we have received proof of life."
"Our impression has been she has done very, very well and been a very, very strong person. And we were happy every time we heard of that," she said.
As for what kind of ransom the Somalis wanted from his group, Camm said, "We have told them, of course, that a humanitarian organization cannot pay."