ICYMI: Rep. Hill and Rep. Deutch Launch American Hostage Task Force
Washington, June 18, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a press conference yesterday, Rep. French Hill (AR-02) and Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-22) formally announced the creation of the Congressional Task Force on American Hostages and Americans Wrongfully Detained Abroad. The full press conference is available HERE.
“I am committed to doing everything I can to help bring Americans home and I have been inspired by the courage of families with loved ones held abroad, like the Kamalmaz family. I am proud to announce the American Hostage Task Force with my friend from Florida, Rep. Ted Deutch,” said Rep. Hill. “It is only through a comprehensive whole of government approach with Congress and the Administration working together that we can bring Americans home, take care of those affected families, and dis-incentivize those corrupt governments and non-state actors that would take an American hostage.”
"Having a loved one detained or held hostage abroad is an unimaginable, heartbreaking experience for any family to go through," Rep. Deutch said. "Last year, Congress passed the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage Taking Accountability Act to give these families the support they need and deserve from the federal government. Representative Hill and I are forming this task force in the House of Representatives to provide that same support to families of hostages as well as to serve as a resource for Members of Congress to navigate how to best help their constituents. We will use this Task Force to project a voice in Congress on behalf of those wrongfully detained or held hostage."
Rep. Hill and Rep. Deutch were joined by Margaux Ewen, Executive Director, James Foley Foundation; Samar M. Hamwi and Mouna Kamalmaz, Majd Kamalmaz’s mother and sister; and Nizar Zakka, a U.S. resident and Lebanese national formerly detained in Iran.
Majd Kamalmaz is a former Arkansas resident and was detained in Syria in 2017. In 2019, Rep. Hill was introduced to his family and Majd’s son, Khalid, was Rep. Hill’s State of the Union guest. Rep. Hill subsequently wrote President Trump requesting his help in bringing Majd safely home from Syria. Rep. Hill continues to remain engaged with Majd’s family but Majd’s status in Syria remains unknown.
Rep. Deutch represents the Levinson family in Coral Springs. Bob Levinson was the longest held American hostage when news of his passing was announced last March. Deutch's legislation, the ‘Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act," was signed into law last December. It will ensure that no other American family is left helpless when their loved one is held hostage abroad.