Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell (HRFC) in the United States
Hostage Recovery Activities: Presidential Memoranda
Presidential Memoranda regarding with the U.S. Nationals Taken Hostage Abroad and Personnel Recovery Efforts (June 24, 2015):
The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell shall serve as the United States Government’s dedicated interagency coordinating body at the operational level for the recovery of U.S. national hostages abroad.
The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell shall:
- identify and recommend hostage recovery options and strategies to the President through the NSC;
- coordinate efforts by participating departments and agencies to ensure that information regarding hostage events, including potential recovery options and engagements with families and external actors (to include foreign governments), is appropriately shared within the United States Government to facilitate a coordinated response to a hostage-taking;
- assess and track all hostage-takings of United States nationals abroad and provide regular reports to the President through the NSC on the status of such cases and any measures being taken toward the hostages’ safe recovery;
- provide a forum for intelligence sharing and, with the support of the Director of National Intelligence, coordinate the declassification of relevant information;
- coordinate efforts by participating departments and agencies to provide appropriate support and assistance to hostages and their families in a coordinated and consistent manner and to provide families with timely information regarding significant events in their cases;
- make recommendations to executive departments and agencies in order to reduce the likelihood of U.S. nationals being taken hostage abroad and enhance United States Government preparation to maximize the probability of a favorable outcome following a hostage-taking; and
- coordinate with departments and agencies regarding congressional, media, and other public inquiries pertaining to hostage events.
Upon receipt of credible information that a U.S. national has been taken hostage or has been reported missing in a region where hostage-taking is a significant threat, any department or agency with such information shall report that information, along with any action already taken or anticipated in response, to the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell and the relevant Chiefs of Mission. If, at any point in a given hostage event, the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell has reason to believe that a United States national is being held hostage by an entity or individual designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization or designated for sanctions by the President, Secretary of State, or Secretary of the Treasury, the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell Director shall promptly inform the Hostage Response Group (HRG; see below) of the designated individual or entity involved and the circumstances of the hostage-taking. (…)
The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, through the Family Engagement Coordinator, shall ensure that all interactions with a hostage’s family occur in a coordinated fashion and that the family receives consistent and accurate information from the United States Government. The Family Engagement Coordinator shall ensure that all communications between United States Government officials and a hostage’s family are coordinated to ensure consistent follow-up on questions and requests, and to ensure that any relevant background regarding the family’s particular needs is taken into consideration. (…)
The United States Government will share with a hostage’s family as much information as possible, mindful of the reliability and credibility of information provided and the need to protect the safety of the hostage, the integrity of any recovery efforts, any ongoing criminal investigation, and intelligence sources and methods. United States Government officials shall communicate to the family, to the greatest extent possible, information about the circumstances of the hostage’s abduction and captivity, what options for the safe recovery of the hostage the United States Government is pursuing, information about relevant law and policy, and the roles and responsibilities of United States Government departments and agencies involved in recovering the hostage. When consistent with each family’s preferences and the circumstances of the hostage event, the Fusion Cell shall coordinate efforts by relevant departments and agencies to ensure that the family receives a full informational briefing. The United States Government shall share with the family relevant information, including by making proactive efforts to declassify relevant information or providing unclassified summaries.
The United States Government shall continue to offer appropriate assistance and support services to a hostage and the hostage’s family after recovery and through any prosecution of the hostage-takers, consistent with the policies set forth in this directive. The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell shall coordinate the delivery of such support services by relevant departments and agencies, including proactive planning for any post-recovery support services that will be provided to a hostage, as appropriate. In the event of a hostage’s death in captivity or in the course of a recovery effort, the HRFC shall also coordinate efforts by relevant departments and agencies to ensure that they provide coordinated assistance and support services to the hostage’s family.
The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell shall coordinate efforts by relevant departments and agencies to ensure that all relevant material and information acquired by the United States Government in the course of a hostage-taking event is made available for use in the effort to recover the hostage and, where possible and consistent with that goal, is managed in such a way as to allow its use in an ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution.
Hostage Response Group (HRG)
(…) Its regular members shall include the director of the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, the HRFC’s Family Engagement Coordinator, and senior representatives from the Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and such other executive branch departments, agencies, or offices as the President, from time to time, may designate.
In support of the Deputies Committee chaired by the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, the Hostage Response Group shall:
- identify and recommend hostage recovery options and strategies to the President through the National Security Council;
- coordinate the development and implementation of U.S. hostage and personnel recovery policies, strategies, and procedures, consistent with the policies set forth in this directive;
- receive regular updates from the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell on the status of United States nationals being held hostage abroad and measures being taken to effect the hostages’ safe recovery;
- coordinate the provision of policy guidance to the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, including reviewing recovery options proposed by the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell and resolving disputes within the HRFC; and
- where higher-level guidance is required, make recommendations to the Deputies Committee.