Former Trump National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien criticized the Biden administration for paying Iran $6 billion in ransom money, saying that it incentivized Hamas to take Americans in Israel hostage on Saturday as it launched a number of terrorist attacks across the country.
“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.
O’Brien served during the Trump administration as the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs from 2018 through 2019 and helped secure the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey in 2018. He also helped secure the release of Danny Burch, an American oil worker in Yemen.
O’Brien said he called on President Joe Biden on Saturday to deploy the FBI Hostage Rescue Team and Joint Special Operations Command’s hostage extraction forces to assist Israel.
“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.”
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.
— Robert C. O’Brien (@robertcobrien) October 8, 2023
Earlier Sunday morning, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC News the Biden administration was still “very actively working” to verify reports that Americans were among those dead in Israel and taken hostage.
“We’ve seen reports about hostages, and there, again, we’re very actively trying to verify them and nail that down,” he said.
“Any American anywhere who is being detained or held hostage, that is going to be a priority for this government, for this administration, and for me, but I don’t want to get ahead of where we are. We have reports; we need to verify them,” Blinken said.
Later on Sunday evening, the Biden White House hosted a BBQ for staff where a live band could be heard playing, according to a pool report.