Rescue of Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted

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Operation Octave Fusion
Part of Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa
DateJanuary 25, 2012
12 miles north of Cadaado

Mission successful

  • Hostages freed
 United States Somali pirates
24 DEVGRU and FBI Hostage Rescue Team operatives
C-130 Hercules
9 pirates
Casualties and losses
none 9 killed[1]

On January 25, 2012, a team of United States Navy SEALs raided a compound 12 miles north of the Somali town of Cadaado, killing nine Somali pirates and freeing their hostages, U.S. citizen Jessica Buchanan and Danish citizen Poul Hagen Thisted.


In October 2011, Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted, who had been working on a demining project with the Danish Refugee Council, were captured by Somali pirates in Galkayo.[1] Attempts by the Council to enlist local Somali elders and traditional leaders to assist in freeing the hostages were unsuccessful, and the pirates refused an offer of US$1.5 million ransom.[2][3] With Buchanan's health declining, U.S. officials decided to launch a raid against the pirates using several different United States special operations forces, including elements of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group.[4]


Early on January 25, 2012, two dozen Navy SEALs parachuted from a C-130 Hercules 2 miles north of the Somali town of Cadaado, where pirates had held the pair of hostages in hopes of ransoming them.[3] The SEALs then traveled by foot from their drop zone, attacked the compound, and engaged the pirates, killing all nine of them.[4] A first-hand account of the raid appears in former DEVGRU operator Justin. K Sheffield's 2020 book MOB VI: A Seal Team Six Operator's Battles in the Fight for Good Over Evil


President Barack Obama with Michelle Obama informing Jessica Buchanan's father that his daughter has been rescued, immediately after the State of the Union Address[2]

After raiding the pirates' compound and freeing the hostages, the U.S. forces returned to their base at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. The President of Galmudug (a state within Somalia) thanked the United States for conducting the raid. U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Defense Secretary Leon Panetta before his 2012 State of the Union address, without publicly revealing any details at that time.[1]

Jessica Buchanan gave her first interview about being kidnapped with 60 Minutes in May 2013; amongst her first thoughts when kidnapped were that it was too soon to die without having children and saying goodbye to her loved ones. Buchanan and her husband returned to the United States from East Africa and now have a son.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Sheikh, Abdi (January 25, 2012). "U.S. commandos free two hostages in daring Somalia raid". Reuters. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden in rescue of 2 hostages in Somalia: report". NY Daily News/The Associated Press. MOGADISHU, Somalia. January 25, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Gettleman, Jeffrey; Schmitt, Eric; Shanker, Thom (January 25, 2012). "U.S. Commandos Free 2 Hostages From Somali Pirates". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b "U.S. special forces rescue Somalia aid workers". CNN. January 27, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  5. ^ Scott Pelley (May 12, 2013). "The Rescue of Jessica Buchanan". 60 Minutes video (15:46). CBS News. Retrieved May 13, 2013.