President Obama wasted nearly a month before launching a rescue mission after British intelligence provided his administration the possible location of American hostages held by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), reports The Daily Beast.
The American captives were identified as Kayla Mueller, James Foley, and Steven Sotloff. All three are now dead.
British intelligence pinpointing where ISIS was holding its American captives in Syria reached the Obama administration in June 2014, but the White House stalled and failed to take action.
It took the administration nearly a month before launching a rescue mission to save American captives Mueller, Foley, and Sotloff.
By the time Obama took action to recover the hostages on July 4, 2014, the captives had been taken to a different location.
The Daily Beast cited an anonymous U.S. official saying Obama’s national security team refused to plan a rescue mission based on information from a foreign government.
“The issue was that they didn’t trust it, and they wanted to develop and mature the intelligence, because it wasn’t our own,” said the U.S. official. “They got the information. They just didn’t trust it. And they did sit on it, there’s no doubt about that,” added the official.
James Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, told The Daily Beast that intelligence developed by the French had located the hostages as early as March, but Obama failed to act on it. “That was part of our frustration,” she said. “The State Department said they were connecting with the French and everybody at the highest levels.” She went on to assert that “very specific information was available as early as mid-March. And that’s what’s been so tough for us as families, because apparently they were held in the same place all those months.”
“U.S. forces conducted this [rescue] operation as soon as the president and his national-security team were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with our policies for undertaking such operations,” Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told The Daily Beast.
The British government, near the end of May, had identified two or three locations in Syria where the ISIS jihadists had moved the hostages.
However, the British “were not absolutely sure” exactly where the Westerners–including Foley, Sotloff, and Mueller–were being held.
“The information–based on debriefings of European captives who had been released, satellite and drone surveillance, and electronic eavesdropping–was not definitive in May,” reports The Daily Beast.
An anonymous British source told The Daily Beast that London had a “positive identification” in early June and “that information was shared with Washington.”
“The delay of nearly a month before the rescue bid was mounted remains a source of bewilderment for British officials,” The Daily Beast explains.
President Obama pushed back at the idea that the U.S hesitated to rescue the Americans captured and eventually murdered by ISIS. “I don’t think it’s accurate then to say that the United States government hasn’t done everything that we could,” Obama told BuzzFeed early this week.
Obama National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, late last August, also pushed back at the claims that the U.S. had not done enough to recover the American hostages. “I can assure you that we have done everything that we can possibly do to try to bring home our hostages,” said Obama’s adviser during a press briefing on Martha’s Vineyard.
Citing an anonymous senior administration official, The Washington Post reported last August that Obama had launched a failed rescue attempt. “We had a combination of … intelligence that was sufficient to enable us to act on it,” said the official, adding that the Pentagon had moved “very aggressively, very quickly to try and recover our citizens.”
“Rescue missions are inherently dangerous, and recent attempts have ended in the death of the hostages,” notes The Daily Beast, adding, “But family members of the Americans held by ISIS, including the parents of Foley and Sotloff, as well as Foley’s brother, have said the U.S. government did not do enough to rescue their loved ones.”