Jessica Buchanan Talks Kidnapping, Rescue From Somali Pirates In ‘Impossible Odds’

Jessica Buchanan was kidnapped by pirates while serving as a humanitarian worker in post-war Somalia. Going into the job, Buchanan knew there was some risk involved, but she came face-to-face with it on October 25, 2011.

Jessica recalled being “completely surrounded” by the Somali pirates. She added that they were “yelling, screaming, hitting windshields with AK-47s.”

They shoved guns in her face and took her away into the desert to a location unbeknownst to the young woman. Jessica Buchanan spent the next 93 days in captivity, enduring conditions so deplorable they threatened her health.

The former grade-school detailed her kidnapping and rescue in the book Impossible Odds, which she co-authored with husband Erik Landemalm. Jessica was stationed in northern Somalia for a long time, before the non-governmental organization (NGO) called her to the less stable southern region.

Buchanan was on her way to the region when a large SUV Land Cruiser blocked the car she was riding in. The next thing she knew, the pirates were surrounding the car. The Somali pirates forced Jessica to sleep outside. They also fed her tuna “maybe once a day. We would get a small can of tuna fish and a piece of bread.”

Jessica Buchanan was kidnapped along with Danish aid worker Poul Hagen Thisted. The Somali pirates sought $45 million for their release — an impossible amount for their families and friends. The pair remained captive being “treated like animals,” until January 2012 when Navy SEALs killed nine Somali pirates to save them.

The operation was ordered by President Obama and carried out secretly by SEAL Team 6. The rescue came as a surprise to Buchanan, who recalled:

“Just complete shock and awe that these men risked their lives to come in and save mine and give me a second chance. They said my name, and they said, ‘We’re here to take you home.’ “

Since then, Jessica Buchanan and her husband have returned from Africa to live in the United States. They now have a child together.