President Trump has been unwilling to give up concessions to hostage-takers but his approach of being open to communication is working.
Since President Trump took office more than two-and-a-half years ago, he has touted his prowess at being able to bring U.S citizens wrongfully held abroad home – framing it as a coup the Obama administration was not able to do as effectively.
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. “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.”
To date, at least 21 hostages held abroad have been freed throughout Trump’s first term. They range from a former CIA officer, Sabrina de Sousa, who was held in Portugal for more than 18 months at the request of Italian prosecutors and an Egyptian-American charity worker Aya Hijazi who was imprisoned in Cairo for three years. Then there was American businesswoman Sandy Phan-Gillis who was released from China, and Caitlin Coleman and her family her were discharged by the Haqqani network in the Pakistan-Afghanistan area in 2017.