This is something Trump can boast about

Five years after being taken hostage in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Caitlan Coleman, her husband, Joshua Boyle, and their children have been freed.

Posted: Apr 28, 2019 7:00 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2019 7:00 PM

On Friday the President tweeted, "'Donald J. Trump is the greatest hostage negotiator that I know of in the history of the United States. 20 hostages, many in impossible circumstances, have been released in last two years. No money was paid.' Cheif (sic) Hostage Negotiator, USA!"

Many of President Trump's tweets are hyperbolic. Some are simply false, such as his frequent claims about the purportedly "illegal" investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.

It's unclear whom Trump was quoting in his tweet Friday, but when it comes to the administration's record of freeing American hostages, the President certainly can celebrate some success.

One such example was the release of Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband, Josh Boyle, nearly five years after they were taken hostage by a Taliban-affiliated group. Coleman and Boyle were kidnapped while they were backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012 and later spirited to Pakistan. In the time she was held captive, Coleman gave birth to three children, all of whom were freed in a 2017 rescue mission orchestrated by the US and Pakistani governments.

The Trump administration put considerable pressure on Pakistan for assistance, and national security officials were motivated to take action due to the three children, according to Trump officials I have spoken to.

As a result of the pressure from American officials, the Pakistanis launched a rescue operation on October 11, 2017, freeing all five hostages unharmed.

In North Korea, American citizens Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk were released last May after being held on arbitrary charges for more than a year. Their release was a result of the negotiations between the Trump administration and the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, ahead of their first summit in Singapore.

The Trump administration, which has prioritized the return of American hostages, has benefited from a policy overhaul initiated by President Obama after the 44th President admitted to several failures.

The Obama administration was criticized for its feckless response when ISIS was holding four American hostages in Syria. The hostages included the freelance journalist James Foley, whose brutal beheading in 2014 was videotaped and circulated online.

According to Foley's mother, US government officials threatened the family with possible prosecution if they tried to raise money for a ransom for their son's release because it was against the law to give money to a terrorist group.

Hostages from European countries such as Austria, France or Germany that are known to pay ransoms are more likely to be freed, according to a 2017 report from the think tank New America.

American hostages are "more than twice as likely to remain in captivity, die in captivity, or be murdered by their captors as the average Western hostage," according to the report, which compiled data on 1,185 hostage cases from 2001 to 2016.

After ISIS killed Foley, his family lobbied for a better outcome for other families. (I sit on the board of the foundation the Foleys created in the name of their son.)

In part because of the Foleys' efforts, the Obama administration founded the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell in 2015 to better coordinate efforts across various government agencies such as the FBI and State Department that work to free hostages.

Hostage families now have greater leeway to negotiate directly with terrorist groups even as the US government itself maintains a no-ransom policy.

A presidential envoy on hostages was also appointed at the State Department so that the issue now has a primary advocate there.

Those institutions continue to work under the Trump administration and as a result over the past two years, 20 hostages and unjustly held detainees have been released.

While Trump doesn't seem to have been personally involved in these negotiations, he is ultimately responsible for the successes and failures on his watch. Certainly when it comes to freeing American hostages, the Trump administration has a good story to tell.

Those successes are tempered, however, by the fact that a number of long-standing hostage cases still need to be resolved. Freelance journalist Austin Tice, for one, disappeared in Syria in 2012 and is believed to be held by the Syrian regime.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34622

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds282449
DeSoto186519
Madison141936
Jones118549
Harrison109615
Rankin106315
Neshoba103976
Forrest97243
Lauderdale95481
Scott80915
Jackson74418
Washington70010
Copiah64215
Leake62120
Lee60022
Oktibbeha58928
Holmes57941
Warren57720
Grenada5698
Wayne56018
Yazoo5486
Lowndes53613
Leflore52856
Lamar5227
Lincoln51935
Pike48820
Sunflower4708
Lafayette4644
Monroe43935
Panola4326
Covington4295
Bolivar39418
Simpson3843
Attala38324
Newton36710
Adams34719
Pontotoc3396
Tate33313
Marion32412
Claiborne30011
Winston29611
Chickasaw29319
Pearl River28132
Noxubee2778
Marshall2763
Jasper2716
Clay25611
Walthall2497
Union24611
Smith23712
Coahoma2196
Clarke21725
Lawrence2022
Yalobusha2028
Kemper18314
Tallahatchie1784
Carroll17411
Humphreys16110
Calhoun1605
Montgomery1513
Itawamba1458
Tippah14411
Hancock14113
Webster13411
Jefferson1223
Tunica1213
Jefferson Davis1184
Prentiss1173
George1123
Greene11210
Amite1083
Quitman971
Tishomingo971
Wilkinson969
Alcorn942
Perry794
Choctaw754
Stone732
Franklin542
Sharkey470
Benton440
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6219167
Mobile4625138
Montgomery4397111
Tuscaloosa258652
Madison19839
Marshall190411
Shelby155724
Lee153537
Morgan12415
Baldwin117011
Walker105631
Elmore100721
Dallas9789
Franklin92816
Etowah91914
DeKalb8647
Russell6650
Chambers66427
Autauga66214
Butler64529
Tallapoosa62569
Unassigned61627
Limestone5963
Houston5616
Lauderdale5556
Cullman5546
St. Clair4842
Colbert4816
Lowndes48022
Escambia4688
Pike4675
Calhoun4565
Coffee4164
Covington40312
Jackson4022
Barbour3772
Bullock37610
Dale3721
Talladega3677
Hale34323
Marengo34211
Clarke3036
Wilcox2998
Chilton2952
Winston2925
Sumter28713
Blount2811
Marion26714
Pickens2626
Monroe2553
Randolph2489
Conecuh2278
Perry2242
Bibb2151
Macon2129
Choctaw20912
Greene1929
Henry1463
Washington1367
Crenshaw1263
Lawrence1210
Cherokee1157
Geneva950
Lamar871
Clay822
Fayette811
Coosa631
Cleburne421
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
92° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 75°
Feels Like: 94°
Columbus
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 95°
Oxford
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 95°
Starkville
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 89°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather