Dr. Phil: Aid Worker Jessica Buchanan Captured By Somalian Pirates


Dr. Phil: Jessica Buchanan Captured, Rescued From Somalian Pirates

In October of 2011, two foreign aid workers, Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted, were captured by Somalian land pirates when they were about to leave the country. After a video was released of the two by the pirates as proof of their capture, any news on them went dark for several months.

Fast forward three months later, and President Barack Obama was informing the American public of Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted’s successful rescue by SEAL Team 6, who killed all nine pirates at the compound where they were held captive. On Dr. Phil May 13 2013, Jessica Buchanan came in for an exclusive interview and to talk about her book chronicling the harrowing experience, Impossible Odds


Dr. Phil: Aid Worker Jessica Buchanan Captured By Somalian Pirates

Jessica Buchanan gave an interview about her capture by Somalian pirates.

How Did Jessica Buchanan End Up In Africa?

Jessica Buchanan’s story of how she ended up in Africa to begin with does not follow a very traditional path. Jessica went to college to become a teacher. During her time as a student, she became interested in several different causes, particularly the child soldier phenomenon. After doing some volunteer work for the cause, she landed a teaching position in Kenya.

How Jessica Buchanan Was Captured

On the day Jessica Buchanan was captured, she was on her way to do some training for her teaching job. For the training, she was required to go into an area that was considered high-risk, due to the Somalian land pirates that occupied the area. She had previously refused to take the trip three times in the past because of the high security risk. On this fourth time, she was under enough pressure to think that she needed to just go in, get the job done and leave.


Jessica Buchanan Kidnapping

After taking the 20 minute trip to the office the training was to take place at, it started like it would on any normal day. Jessica could hear regular gunfire taking place outside of the office, something she was told was normal. It was still, according the Jessica, unsettling, though.

Around 3:00 p.m., the group left the office and was driving home, when an SUV pulled in front of them and abruptly stopped. Jessica’s car was soon surrounded by men wielding AK-47’s and banging on the windows. She and her colleague were soon bouncing across the desert in an SUV driven by a pirate. When she asked Poul what was happening, he looked Jessica straight in the face and said, “We’re being kidnapped.”

Not having any idea what kind of terrorist group she was being abducted by, she had no way to calculate her chances of survival. At this point, all Jessica Buchanan could think about was how much she shouldn’t have gone on this trip. The irony of it all came from a text message she wrote to her husband, who was four hours north at the time, the night before, jokingly telling him that if she were to be kidnapped he needed to come rescue her.

Jessica Buchanan – My Work In Africa Was Done

Ignoring the fact that she wasn’t even sure if she was going to survive this ordeal, there were many things running through Jessica Buchanan’s head. For one, she wondered if things could ever be the same with her marriage if she ever saw her husband again. One thing she knew, however, was that any hands-on work that she was doing in Africa was finished.

In addition to speculation and reflection, Jessica was also imagining the worst possible outcomes for this scenario. Suddenly stopping in the middle of the dessert and being told to get out of the SUV, Jessica was ordered by the group of pirates to walk into the dessert. She initially refused, but her colleague took her hand and made her comply, knowing that lack of compliance might lead to an even worse outcome. Throughout this, all Jessica could think was that these men were going to assault and kill her in the middle of the dessert, all alone, before her life had even begun. How could it all over be so soon?


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