President Barack Obama said Thursday his role as a dad of two daughters offered him an inkling of the agony endured by the father of a US aid worker freed in a daring US commando raid in Somalia.
Obama ordered the clandestine Navy SEALs swoop which Tuesday freed American Jessica Buchanan and Danish national Poul Thisted after they were held for three months by Somali kidnappers.
The president called Buchanan's father John to tell him of the rescue on Tuesday night.
"I cannot imagine what he went through -- given Malia and Sasha," Obama said in a nod to his own daughters, aged 13 and 10."
"For him to be able to stay strong and then for our incredible men and women in uniform to do what they do, it makes you proud about this country," Obama told ABC News in an interview conducted in Las Vegas.
Buchanan and Thisted were taken to Italy for medical treatment and to be reunited with their families, a Pentagon official said.
Nine kidnappers died in a firefight during the raid by the SEALs ordered by Obama after intelligence was received that the health of Buchanan, 32, was in danger.
Obama ordered the raid secretly just as he prepared for his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday. He was overheard saying, "Good job tonight," to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as he walked into the House of Representatives for the speech.
On Thursday, Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders explaining that the kidnappers were "linked to Somali pirates and financiers."
Buchanan and Thisted, 60, were employed by the Danish Refugee Council Demining Group helping to de-mine war-torn Somalia, which has lacked a functioning central government for two decades.