(CNN) – In a secret operation a U.S. official called “brilliant,” the Colombian military infiltrated rebel group FARC and deceived its members into giving up 15 hostages including former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, Colombia’s defense ministry said.
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/americas/07/02/betancourt.colombia/art.ingrid.mom.afp.gi.jpg Ingrid Betancourt, right, with her mother as she walked off a military plane following her rescue Wednesday.
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/img/2.0/mosaic/base_skins/baseplate/corner_wire_BL.gif Appearing healthy after being held hostage for six years in the jungle, Betancourt, walked down from a Colombian military jet in Bogota on Wednesday and hugged her mother and husband, a broad smile on her face.
“God carried out this miracle,” she said. “This is a miracle because I know that all of you suffered with my family, my children, with me. This is a moment of pride for all of Colombia for such a perfect operation.”
Gonsalves, Stansell and Howes were doing drug surveillance for the Department of Defense when they were taken hostage in February 2003. The single-engine plane carrying them and two other men crashed in a remote, mountainous region south of Colombia’s capital, Bogota. Almost four years later they are still being held by FARC… until today.