Obama has to make tough call with family hostage situation

President Barack Obama may have to make a heartbreaking decision before he leaves office. It is whether to leave an American woman, her husband and her children in the hands of terrorists in Afghanistan — or risk many other lives by getting them released.

More than four years ago, Caitlan Coleman, now 31, and her Canadian husband decided to go backpacking in Afghanistan. They chose a part of the country known to be dangerous because of the presence of terrorists linked to the Taliban.

They were captured and have been in captivity since. They now have two children, also being held by Haqqani network murderers.

This week, a video featuring the four captives was made public. In it, Ms. Coleman pleads for Obama to secure their release.

“Just give the offenders something so they and you can save face, so we can leave the region permanently,” she says in the video.

U.S. officials have said the terrorists are demanding that the government of Afghanistan release a Haqqani leader who has been sentenced to death. If he is executed, Ms. Coleman, her husband and children may be retaliated against.

Obama has dealt with the Haqqanis previously, releasing five of their leaders in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, captured after he left his post. No one can say with certainty how many innocent lives were lost because those five were freed.

If Obama can get Ms. Coleman and her family freed without risking the lives of others, he should do so. But during a season when Christians are filled with compassion, the president also must weigh carefully the potential cost of placating the terrorists.