Syrian Emergency Task Force and James W. Foley Legacy Foundation Welcome the Creation of the Congressional Task Force on Americans Held Hostage and Wrongfully Detained Abroad

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Ted Deutch and Congressman French Hill announced the formation of the Congressional Task Force on Americans Held Hostage and Wrongfully Detained Abroad. This bipartisan caucus will serve as a locus for resources for members of Congress, families of Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad, and former hostages and detainees as they deal with reintegration after captivity. 

According to data from the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation (JWFLF) there are at least 53 publicly known cases of Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad in 13 countries. Some are being held by terrorist organizations, while others are held by foreign governments seeking to obtain political gain in exchange for their release. In its 3rd annual report on the efficacy of U.S. hostage and detainee policy, JWFLF found that 2015 policy reforms and the 2020 adoption of the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act are largely durable and effective. But there is so much more work to be done. Critical improvements are needed in hostage prioritization, leadership continuity, timely intelligence, declassification and information sharing with families, and more comprehensive mental health and reintegration support for returning hostages and wrongful detainees. Additionally, there is a critical need to hold hostage-takers, both non-state actors and foreign governments alike, accountable for their crimes so they are deterred from this horrific practice. That is why JWFLF and the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), who have been coordinating advocacy efforts to support several families of Americans held in Syria, welcome the founding of this critical task force to further support these Americans and their families. 

Diane Foley, JWFLF’s President and Founder said “We are grateful for this essential Congressional leadership in bringing our US nationals home.  This Task Force can make a critical difference in their return.” 

Likewise, Executive Director for SETF, Mouaz Moustafa, expressed his gratitude for this effort by stating, “This task force will be an important resource for Americans seeking freedom for their loved ones held by the Assad Regime.” 

Sam Goodwin, SETF and JWFLF Advisor and Former Detainee, announced, “Additional hostage recovery efforts are important. It takes a network to defeat a network.”