Bringing Hostages Home: Developing Effective American Strategy


Since 2001, terrorist and militant groups have taken almost 1,200 Westerners hostage abroad, with 90 being murdered. American hostages have been killed at disproportionate rates - accounting for nearly half of those murdered. The failure of US policy regarding hostages has resulted in an outcry from the families of those taken, and the enactment of policy reforms by the Obama administration. How should the United States best ensure the safety of Americans abroad? Should the United States revise its policy against making concessions to hostage takers? 

To discuss the future of American hostage policy, New America welcomes Rachel Briggs OBE, Executive Director of Hostage US, a non-profit that supports hostages and their families, and a distinguished researcher and writer on issues of national security; Diane Foley, the founder and president of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, which promotes the legacy of her son James Foley, who was taken hostage and murdered by ISIS, and promotes the safe return of Americans taken hostage abroad; Chris Mellon, a researcher with New America and co-author of New America’s report To Pay Ransom or not to Pay Ransom; Theo Padnos, a freelance journalist who was held hostage for nearly two years by the Nusra Front in Syria; and Aretae Wyler, the Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel of Atlantic Media, who has worked to secure the safe return of American hostages. 

Follow the discussion online using #HostagePolicy and following @NewAmericaISP


Rachel Briggs @RachelBriggsUK
OBE Executive Director, HostageUS  

Diane Foley @dmfaprn
Founder and President, James W. Foley Legacy Foundation  

Chris Mellon
Researcher, New America Co-Author, To Pay Ransom or not to Pay Ransom? 

Theo Padnos @TheoPadnos
Freelance journalist and former hostage

Aretae Wyler 
Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, Atlantic Media 


Peter Bergen @PeterBergenCNN
Vice President, New America