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

PHOTO: Jessica Buchanan is shown in this undated handout photo.
Share
Copy

The husband of a rescued American aid worker said the time his wife spent in Somali captivity were "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 saftey!" 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 is 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.

"She says she feels safe for the first time in 93 days. The men that risked their lives … I just can't say enough so I really, really appreciate it," Dave Buchanan, Jessica's uncle said.

Slideshow: Somalia Hostages Freed in Daring Navy SEAL Rescue

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.

"We are very grateful that Jessica has been rescued," Buchanan's family said in a statement Wednesday. "This has been just an unbelievable answer to prayers and we are so grateful for the work of the president, the Navy SEALs and the State Department and we knew that God would set our sister free."

At approximately 1:40 a.m. Wednesday local time -- 5:40 p.m. Tuesday eastern time -- SEAL Team 6 was aboard a specially equipped C-130 moving rapidly toward the target -- a remote encampment deep in northern Somalia.

One by one the SEALs hurled themselves out of the plane at high altitude, parachuting silently to within a few miles of the hideout, then hiking to the enemy grounds, which were pitch black, with armed pirates everywhere.

Within minutes of arriving at the encampment gunfire erupted from the kidnappers, but the SEALs quickly killed all nine of the heavily armed kidnappers. By approximately 2:30 a.m. local time the hostages -- now in U.S. hands -- were moved on board black hawk helicopters and headed for Djibouti.

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.

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.

"She loves kids and she loves to help people and that's the reason she was over there. Just to help," Dave Buchanan said.

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.

ABC News' Martha Raddatz, Dana Hughes, Luis Martinez and Sabina Ghebremedhin contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...