At first I thought this crazy talk. Now I'm not so sure.
Have you watched the video of the CNN interview with Mohammed Al Zawahiri, the brother of the Zawahiri, who was the Al Qaeda leader? The video did not air in the US, only in Canada. It’s supposed to be a peace proposal, but it is just a series of demands, the same demands that were issued by Osama Bin Laden, prior to the first 9/11 attacks.
My guess is that Obama was going to allow Stephens to be captured and then trade him for All the Islamic prisoners, as in the demands and capitulate to all the other demands, as well. Then Obama was going to claim that he had single handedly brought peace to the Middle East.