Denis Allex and Marc Aubrière were deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia in 2009 by the French Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) to train soldiers from the Transitional Federal Government. On 14 July 2009, both men were kidnapped from the hotel at which they were staying by armed men impersonating police. The captors loaded the men into a truck and left the hotel, but a while later the truck broke down. While the truck was incapacitated, the captors were confronted by members of Hizbul Islam, a Somalia militia, who demanded custody of the hostages. The two men were then taken away by fighters from Hizbul Islam and later Allex was transferred to the allied militia, Al-Shabaab. On 25 August 2009, according to his version of events, Aubrière, who was being held in Mogadishu, escaped from his captors in the middle of the night while they slept. He then walked for five hours to the government compound in the city and, from there, was transported back to France. However, Aubrière's account has been disputed as being improbable and it has been suggested that his release was secured after the French government paid a ransom, which the government has denied.
US and French technical and Human intelligence teams, including a US Army Special Mission Unit specialized in SIGINT, or Signal Intelligence (through all mediums that data can be transferred or messages sent), The highly secretive team and U-28A surveillance flights out of Djibouti were immediately deployed in an exhaustive effort to locate the hostage. Somali assets recruited by the DGSE identified several locations of where the agent had been located, the agent was constantly moved by the terrorists mainly because of the fighting between al-Shabaab and African Union troops. US and French satellites and unmanned reconnaissance flights monitored the hostage's location for several months as operators from DGSE Division Action unit planned the rescue mission. In December 2012, news reached the DGSE that the hostage's health was deteriorating, President Hollande ordered The DGSE Division Action to prepare to carryout a previously opposed hostage rescue mission. The DGSE sent a 50-man Close Quarter Battle Group of the Division Action (known as CPIS) to Camp Lemonnier where they trained for the mission with a small team of Navy SEALs from Red squadron, DEVGRU; in addition to latest intelligence supplied by Somali agents, the US also provided surveillance assets, including JSOC Predator UAV based at Camp Lemonnier and air cover from both AC-130 Spectres and an RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV during the mission itself.