wo hostages rescued in Somalia by U.S. special forces met with their families at a military base in Italy on Thursday as the husband of the American woman described her time spent in captivity as "three months of hell."
Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Danish colleague Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, were rescued early Wednesday by Navy SEAL Team 6 — the same group involved in the mission that killed Osama bin Laden last spring — in a daring mission at a remote encampment deep in northern Somalia. The two aid workers were kidnapped by pirates in October.
News reports Thursday said Buchanan and Thisted were at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily.
Erik Landemalm, Buchanan's husband, told ABC that he kept his wife's captivity a secret from many of his friends in order to protect her.
"This morning, after going through three months of hell with Somali pirates, my amazing wife was saved by the American military and she is now in saftey!" Erik Landemalm wrote on his Facebook in Swedish. "Words cannot describe the joy and relief we feel! Thank you to all that have helped and apologies to all our friends I haven't shared this with. This a day of Happiness!"
Christina Scolforo, a close friend of Buchanan, told ABC that her abduction was intentionally kept from the media.
"We didn't want them to get media hype that would cause them to think that she was worth more, and they would want more of a ransom, and then it would prolong the time that she was captive, so a lot of it was hush," Scolforo said.
Buchanan's immediate family is now meeting with her at the U.S. military base in Sicily, members of the woman's extended family told ABC News. Reuters also reported the two were at the base.
"She says she feels safe for the first time in 93 days. The men that risked their lives … I just can't say enough so I really, really appreciate it," said Dave Buchanan, Jessica's uncle.
In Somalia, Buchanan served as a regional education adviser at the Danish Demining Group, a division of the Danish Refugee Council.
"She loves kids and she loves to help people and that's the reason she was over there. Just to help," Dave Buchanan said.
Urgency to rescue the two workers increased after officials were told Buchanan's health was deteriorating. But reports of her heath have been conflicting.
When word reached Valley Forge Christian College that Buchanan had been rescued it was the happy ending to three months of constant prayers for the 2007 graduate.
"It was very exciting," college President Don Meyer said Wednesday. "We just feel this overwhelming deep sense of gratitude to God for his faithfulness in her life, gratitude to those who had the courage to put themselves in harm's way."
Meyer had first learned of her kidnapping in Somalia from Buchanan's brother-in-law, Andrew Mathe, a current student at Valley Forge.
"When we heard this news back in October, it kind of froze us in place, knowing the seriousness of it," Meyer said. "So many times these stories don't have happy endings."
He said he shared the news of Buchanan's kidnapping with students on campus but asked them not to tell others or refer to it on social media sites because authorities had instructed Buchanan's family to keep quiet.
As weeks turned to months, Meyer said he and students at the school prayed constantly for Buchanan's safe return. He also took special care to call and send Buchanan's family personal notes in the mail with scripture readings.
"There was very little information coming out of her circumstances," Meyer said. "There was hardly anything during that time that came to the family."
He learned of the rescue in an e-mail from Mathe at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and spoke to him twice. Mathe contradicted reports that Buchanan's health was declining, Meyer said.
"He shared that her health was good," he said.
President Obama gave the orders for Buchanan and Thisted to be rescued.
"He said, 'John, this is Barack Obama. I'm calling because I have great news for you. Your daughter has been rescued by our military.'
"I'm extremely proud and glad to be an American," Buchanan said.
Meyer last saw Jessica Buchanan, an early childhood education major, two years ago when she returned to Pennsylvania to visit family after her mother died. He learned she was working for the refugee council in Somalia. Before that, she taught in Nairobi, Kenya.
"She absolutely loved her experience there," Meyer said. "Her passion for Africa flourished while she was there. She could hardly talk about Africa without tears in her eyes."
"Her sense of divine mission was very clear to her," he said. "She had a very clear resolve. This was something birthed in her that God was doing."
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Thursday that a pirate in Somalia said that captors holding an American have moved their hostage at least three times following the raid by the SEAL team that rescued Buchanan and Thisted. The SEALs killed nine alleged kidnappers in that operation early Wednesday.
The high-profile rescue raised questions about whether other Western hostages held in Somalia have a greater chance at release or could be in greater danger.
"If they try again we will all die all together," warned Hassan Abdi, the pirate connected to the gang holding the American. "It's difficult to hold U.S. hostages, because it's a game of chance: die or get huge money. But we shall stick with our plans and will never release him until we get a ransom."
Abdi suggested captives may be moved to hijacked ships where rescue attempts are more difficult.
"Holding hostages in one place is unlikely now because we are the next target," Abdi said in a phone conversation with the Associated Press.
"It wasn't just a hit and run operation, but long planned with the help of insiders among us," Abdi said, noting the soldiers had struck at the time when the pirates were least on their guard.
Contributing: Carolyn Pesce in McLean, Va.; Associated Press