WASHINGTON: In September of 2017, American oil worker Danny Burke was kidnapped in Yemen. Unidentified gunmen grabbed the American, now married to a Yemeni national, from his car and in broad daylight. At the time, Nadia Forsa, Burch’s wife said “They did it broad daylight in front of everyone.”
Burch is just one of many westerners that have been abducted from the country located at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.
On Monday, President Trump announcement that the American citizen is free after 18 months of captivity is met with great joy by the family.
Danny Burch, a U.S. citizen who was held hostage in Yemen for 18 months, has been reunited with his family.
Freedom has been secured for 20 American captives since President Trump’s election.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 25, 2019
In a statement, Trump thanked the United Arab Emirates for its role in reuniting Burch with his family.
It is my honor today to announce that Danny Burch, a United States citizen who has been held hostage in Yemen for 18 months, has been recovered and reunited with his wife and children. I appreciate the support of the United Arab Emirates in bringing Danny home…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019
“Danny’s recovery reflects the best of what the United States and its partners can accomplish,” Trump says
He said freeing Americans held overseas “is a priority of my administration” and added that 20 American captives have been released since his victory in the 2016 presidential election.
“We maintain constant and intensive diplomatic, intelligence, and law enforcement cooperation within the United States government and with our foreign partners,” Trump said, in a statement that was echoed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Thanking the Emiratis, Robert O’Brien, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the FBI’s Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, Pompeo expressed appreciation for O’Brien’s work to free Burch.
“Today, he is safe and secure, and is reunited with his wife and children,” Pompeo said.
The White House did not provide additional details on Burch’s case, citing privacy concerns. However Pompeo’s statement was titled “On the Rescue of Danny Burch from Captivity.”
Held in North Korea
The Trump administration was able to obtain the release of a 62-year old missionary from Virginia, Kim Dong Chul, and two American professors, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Hak Song, who were being held by North Korea.
In 2018, North Korea returned student Otto Warmbier, an American college student sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean prison. Warmbier who had been tortured until he was in a coma and suffering from brain injuries, came home. Warmbier died within days of returning to the U.S. from the injuries inflicted by Kim Jong Un’s regime.
Whose still being held?
FBI agent Robert Levinson
Levinson is an American former Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who disappeared mysteriously on March 9, 2007. He was last seen in Kish Island, Iran. He is believed to be held captive by the government of Iran. On January 16, 2016, Jason Rezaian was released from Iran along with two other United States prisoners, Amir Mirza Hekmati and Saeed Abedini, however they did not allow Levinson to leave.
On November 26, 2013, Levinson became the longest-held hostage in American history. His passport has never shown up in any other country and no further proof of life has been offered since 2013 leaving doubts that Levinson is still alive. The Obama Administration was criticized for bargaining with Iran, including giving the terrorist county $150 Billion, in cash, in the middle of the night. Without demand the return of American’s held hostage by the regime.
Others known to be held in Iran are Xiyue Wang, a Princeton graduate student in history who is serving a ten-year sentence for spying. Father and son Baquer (81) and Siamak (45) Namazi, Iranian Americans, were convicted in 2016 and sentenced to 10-year terms on unexplained charges.
Now both are behind bars.
There are more than a dozen other Americans held in North Korea, Turkey, Afghanistan, Syria, Mali, Yemen and Venezuela.
In January of this year, Iran confirms they are holding U.S. Navy Veteran Michael White. White is the first known American to be detained under President Donald Trump. White, who is being held in prison since July of 2018, is convicted of spying. His parents are pleading for his release as he needs cancer treatments.
Serkan Golge, a Turkish-American NASA engineer, is in a Turkish prison after being arrested in July 2016. Golge was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison in February of 2017
In Afghanistan, American University professor Kevin King is still being held by the Taliban. Kevin King, 62, who is believed to be seriously ill and Australian citizen Timothy Weeks, 50, were both teachers at the American University in Afghanistan where they were captured in 2016.
In January of this year American and Taliban officials reported that they have reached a framework of a deal in which the insurgents would guarantee Afghan territory is no longer accessible to the Taliban.
This may lead to a “full pullout of American troops in return for larger concessions from the Taliban, the chief United States negotiator said on Monday.”
Hopefully any negotiations will include the release of American hostages. 76-year-old Paul Overby has been in captivity since 2014. Jane Larson, Overby’s wife, believes the Taliban kidnapped Overby, which they deny.
Journalist and former U.S. Marine Austin Tice has been been missing nearly seven years. Tice was detained at a checkpoint only to disappear into Darayya, Syria, near Damascus. Working before his final year at Georgetown University Law School he was working as a freelance journalist, telling the story of the civil war from the perspective of ordinary Syrian residents.
In Mali, aid worker Jeffry Woodke was taken hostage by Al-Qaeda in 2016. The al Qaeda affiliated group known as Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimeen has abducted Woodke.
A longtime aid worker with the Youth With a Mission charity, Woodke had been living in Niger since 1992.
Caitlin Coleman and her husband were held captive for five years after being abducted while backpacking. During their incarceration in Afghanistan, she delivered three children.
Returning Americans held hostage is a priority for President Trump, and the release of Danny Burch, while the 20th victory for America, will not be the last. We pray,
Key Word: President Trump, American Hostages, Otto Warmbier, Danny Burch, Iran, Afghanistan, Taliban, Jacquie Kubin