SEAL Team Six conducts a daring raid to free a hostage

One of the lesser-known successes of the Trump administration is that he’s been bringing home American hostages from around the world. Even better, he’s doing so without paying off terrorists or otherwise leaving America beholden to bad actors. The latest example is a perfectly conducted SEAL Team Six mission to rescue an American hostage held in Niger.

In July 2019, before the world went mad, President Trump boasted that he was bringing home American hostages. It was not an idle boast:

Partisan politics aside – families, lawmakers and activists alike have indicated that a hardline focus on bringing Americans is yielding results.

“What has changed under the Trump administration is the level of personal interest and engagement from the President. Trump has made it clear that he views the return of American hostages as a priority and regularly touts his success,” Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and author of “We Want to Negotiate: The Secret World of Kidnapping, Hostages and Ransom,” told Fox News.

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To date, at least 21 hostages held abroad have been freed throughout Trump’s first term.

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“The Trump administration has been pro-active about achieving the release of unfairly detained or captured Americans,” concurred Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). “It has done this through direct engagement with foreign leaders such as Egypt or North Korea, indirect engagement via proxy – such as UAE helping to release a hostage in Yemen, and sanctions – against Turkish ministers. The President has certainly prioritized this more than other presidents.”

What I elided from the above quotation was Joel Simon’s concern about Trump’s putting a priority and rescuing American hostages:

“The hostage families I speak with appreciate the attention the President gives the issue, but some policy experts worry that the same attention could increase the risk by making clear the potential value of American hostages.”

In other words, if bad actors know that Trump will do anything to bring hostages home, that may give them an incentive to seize people in hopes of a profitable negotiation with the Trump administration. That idea ought to be entirely dead in the wake of the latest American hostage to come home.

Last week, an armed group seized Phillip Walton, an American living on a farm in Niger. While the captors, apparently, were not Islamists, the government believed that they intended to sell Walton to Islamist terrorists.

That was not going to happen on Trump’s watch. Not only did SEAL Team Six successfully rescue Walton, but they also killed six of the seven people holding him. That’s quite a disincentive to future hostage-takers. ABC News seemed to have an inside track:

The mission was undertaken by elite commandos as part of a major effort to free the U.S. citizen, Philip Walton, 27, before his abductors could get far after taking him captive in Niger on Oct. 26, counterterrorism officials told ABC News.

The operation involved the governments of the U.S., Niger and Nigeria working together to rescue Walton quickly, sources said. The CIA provided intelligence leading to Walton's whereabouts and Marine Special Operations elements in Africa helped locate him, a former U.S. official said.

Then the elite SEAL Team Six carried out a "precision" hostage rescue mission and killed all but one of the seven captors, according to officials with direct knowledge about the operation.

"They were all dead before they knew what happened," another counterterrorism source with knowledge told ABC News.

The SEALS deserve kudos for successfully carrying out their mission. The government agencies involved deserve kudos for speedily gathering the necessary intelligence. And President Trump deserves kudos for letting Americans know that he will not abandon them and that he’s perfectly willing to use deadly force to save them.

As a parting question, try to imagine how this situation would have played out on Biden’s watch. I find it hard to believe that Walton would be back home with his family if Biden were the one to call the shots. After all, Biden was strongly opposed to the raid that killed bin Laden (although true to his character, he lied later about that opposition). The only risks Biden took were the ones that saw him use his sadly deficient son Hunter as the frontman for the worldwide “Biden family business.”

Image: Navy SEALS in training. Public Domain.