Former Trump National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien said on Sunday that President Joe Biden's $6 billion ransom payment to Iran to return U.S. hostages incentivized Hamas to take American hostages when they invaded Israel over the weekend.
“While welcoming our Iran hostages home, I said at the time — paying ransom (eg unfreezing $6 billion) is problematic because it incentivizes new hostage taking & gives terrorists money for new operations. I didn’t think we would see these points illustrated so vividly, so quickly,” O’Brien posted on X.
While serving as the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs under Trump, O'Brien helped with the release of several U.S. hostages from the Middle East, including American pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey in 2018 and American oil worker Danny Burch from Yemen.
He said he thinks Biden should deploy the FBI Hostage Rescue Team and Joint Special Operations Command’s hostage extraction forces to get Americans back from Hamas.
"We now know [American citizens] have been taken by Hamas,” O’Brien posted. “Those teams should be airborne to the region now to be in a position to rescue our countrymen.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that securing the release of American hostages would be a top priority for the administration but did not give specifics about how he plans to do so.