When U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed three Somali pirates and rescued Captain Richard Phillips on April 12, it was hailed as a great hostage recovery mission. It had all the elements of cunning, surprise and precision that such operations demand to be carried out successfully.
Over the last half century, as terrorism has become a global plague, major governments have set up special forces to deal with just these kinds of crises. Highly-skilled and vigorously trained commandos have rescued hostages from hijacked planes, buildings to mountain-side camps and the high seas. These missions can sometimes turn deadly and become complete failures, with lasting political consequences.
The editors at RealClearWorld have reviewed more than a dozen famed hostage-rescue missions and based on the circumstances, the degree of success and locations of these rescues, the following five come out at the top of our list:
No. 5 Operation Isotope (1972)