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Former Obama adviser teams up with group helping US hostages

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President Barack Obama is teaming up with a non-profit that gives free counseling and legal and other advice to the families of captives.

Hostage US announced Monday that Lisa Monaco has been elected to its board. The group, which estimates that up to 200 Americans are kidnapped overseas each year, was co-founded by Hostage UK and the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation after the American journalist who was captured and beheaded in 2014 by Islamic State militants.

Monaco was instrumental in Obama’s directives to better coordinate U.S. agencies working to free American hostages and be responsive to the needs of their families. Reforms were needed because the hostage-taking policies had been designed decades ago and before the advent of militant groups, such as IS, that operate as non-state actors, Monaco said.

“There were changes in the landscape that became abundantly and tragically clear in the summer of 2014 when a number of American journalists and aid workers were so brutally murdered by ISIS,” Monaco said. “It also became clear that the government really needed improve how it was interacting with and communicating and supporting families.”

During that review, Monaco said she met in London with Rachel Briggs, who set up Hostage UK after her family experienced fear and helplessness when her uncle was kidnaped in Colombia. Briggs moved to the US from England in September 2015 to stand up Hostage US.

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