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New Report Shows American Hostages Are Twice As Likely to Die in Captivity, But That May Change Soon


A report released by political think tank New America made shocking conclusions about the status of American hostages.

The report found that Americans who are taken hostage by terrorist, militant, or pirate groups are more than twice as likely to die in captivity or be murdered by their captors than other Western hostages.

Image Credit: New America

Of the 90 Western hostages murdered by their captors between 2001 and 2016, 45% were American.

New America reported that 15 Americans were taken hostage by ISIS and other, individual entities that merged to form the terrorist group. The fates of those 15 Americans looked like this:

  • Murdered: 13
  • Died in captivity: 1
  • Released: 1

Four Americans were taken hostage by ISIS in Syria. James FoleySteven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig were beheaded, while Kayla Mueller died in captivity during a drone strike.

Their research showed that countries that pay a ransom see overwhelmingly positive outcomes for their hostages, compared to those who do not pay a ransom.

Image Credit: New America

After an extensive review, in 2015, the Obama administration highlighted its firm stance in its updated hostage policy. President Barack Obama reiterated that the United States' priority is the safe and rapid recovery of Americans being held.

Then, he outlined his three-part policy:

  • The United States government will not make concessions, such as paying ransom.
  • Better efforts will be made to ensure that all government agencies are organized and work cooperatively to make sure hostage policies are consistent.
  • The U.S. will treat families of hostages as trusted and active partners in securing the release of their family member(s).

President Obama said that he believes if the United States pays ransom to terrorists, more Americans will be endangered.

However, the findings of New America refuted this theory. The report claims:

There is no clear link between a nation’s ransom policy and the number of its citizens taken hostage. The United States had the most hostages taken since 2001 with 225, followed by Italy with 148, France with 143, and the United Kingdom with 137.

Now, with an imminent change in the presidency, people have wondered if President-elect Donald Trump will uphold previous administrations' hostage policies...or create a brand new one.

CNN's national security analyst Peter Bergen and researcher Christopher Mellon, writing on CNN.com, urged the Trump administration to clarify its stance on prosecution of families who negotiate with terrorists and facilitate prisoner exchanges.

While only time will tell what Trump plans to do with regard to American hostages, some of his previous statements and actions may serve as indicators of his future behavior.

Trump campaigned on the basis that he would re-negotiate the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, which he repeatedly called “disastrous.” His use of the term “renegotiate” and not simply “overturn” signals that he understands the importance of negotiation and might approach many issues from that position.

His pre-Inauguration deal with Carrier also demonstrated that, as a businessman, Trump may be willing to attempt to reach a compromise in order to get the outcome he wants.

Upon his Inauguration, “what he wants” may be the safe return of an American woman (Caitlin Coleman), her Canadian husband, and their two children who've been held hostage since they were captured while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012.

In a recently released video, Ms. Coleman appealed to the incoming president to negotiate their release. She said:

“They are not going to simply release our family easily, because it is correct. They want money, power and friends...We are told there are Afghans who are prisoners in Kabul that these men care about.”

CNN reported that the prisoner they are referring to is the brother of the head of a terrorist organization who is currently facing execution in an Afghan prison.

As of now, President-elect Donald Trump has neither publicly responded to the video nor has he released a detailed plan for his policy on hostages.

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View Comments(3 comments)
Ken McLeod(2 likes)

My first reaction to this is WHAT THE fU*K ARE YOU back opacking in that region of the World for?  You are stupid for going tthere in the first place.  By doing this you not only put yourselves in danger, but your unborn child.  You are a moron!!!!

Now, because you acted like a moron, you bring the U.S. into something they should NOT have to deal with.  

So of course Presdient Obama failed you, what did you expect with his track record dealing with Middle Eastern couintries.

So now, President Elect Trump with have to address this.  Now being the man Mr. Trump is, he will make a deal to try and get you back.  Whether he's succesful or not, is yet to bre seen since he has to deal with leaders who don't value human life.


LET THE ME A WARNING TO ANYONE WHO THINKS IT'S EVEN REMOTELY SAFE TO TRAVEL TO THE MIDDLE EAST.  You are a fool if you think you're safe.  You are a fool if you think nothing will happen to youl  You are a fool for making such a stupid dicission and think your country will just make a deal to get you back.  Moral of the story.  DON'T BE A FOOL!

Jai Vee

There's plenty of beautiful places to backpack.. The middle eastern countries is not one. Putting you and your family in danger is just as crazy as going to this countries..

But praying President Donald Trump can help..!!!

Real1ty B1tes

So Europeans are 3.5 times more likely to be taken hostage. (About 60 million people in each of those countries vs. 320 million in the US.)