A top Republican who advises the president on foreign policy confirmed the liberation of two U.S. citizens held captive in the Middle East.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is celebrating after the Trump administration successfully negotiated the release of Americans Sandra Loli and Mikael Gidada who were both captured by Islamic Houthi rebels in the Yemen capital of Sanaa, on the southwest Arab Peninsula.
“We join with all Americans in welcoming the release of two U.S. citizens from Houthi custody in Yemen,” Pompeo said in a statement. “We join all Americans in welcoming their newly regained freedom,” he added on Twitter.
Rebels decided to free the pair, and their now-deceased fellow hostage Bilal Fateen, after the U.S. Department of State offered to return about 250 of the Iranian-backed rebels U.S. forces had captured.
“My deepest condolences go out to the family of a third American who died while in captivity but whose remains are being repatriated,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Yemen state news reported both Loli and Gidada had been transported across the country’s borders in an Oman flight. According to Fox News, about 250 of their so-called Yemeni brothers have received medical treatment in Oman and already returned to Sanaa on two flights as part of the arrangement.
Pompeo believes the successful release shows President Donald Trump puts Americans’ safety first and will fight for their freedom.
“President Trump remains committed to bringing every American held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad back home,” he said. “This administration will not rest until they are all reunited with their families.”
The department thanked Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia for assisting with the negotiations.
“I also want to commend the tenacious diplomacy of our embassies in the region who helped facilitate this release,” Pompeo said.
The FBI expects Loli and Gidada will return to the United States soon, where preparations will begin for Fateen’s funeral service. The BL understands Loli was detained for about three years while Gidada was captured about a year ago.
“Tragically, one of these Americans died during his unlawful captivity,” Kieran Ramsey, director of the administration’s hostage recovery cell, said.
The U.S. Senate previously passed an Iran War Powers Resolution that effectively prevents the president from making executive decisions about military strikes against Iran without asking Congress for permission first.
The resolution came despite the president’s pleas for senators not to remove his powers as it would only play into the hands of Iran and the Democratic Party, which has repeatedly disrupted the nation’s political stability. The Oval Office ultimately vetoed the legislation.
“If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day,” the president said on Twitter. “Sends a very bad signal. The Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to embarrass the Republican Party, do not let it happen.”