Frustration Builds for Family of Taliban Captive

Pressure on Trump, Biden administrations for help hasn't won release of Mark Frerichs, 59
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2021 1:38 PM CDT
Frustration Builds for Family of Taliban Captive
Mark Frerichs, a contractor from Illinois, poses in Iraq in this undated photo obtained from Twitter that he would include with his resume when job hunting. Frerichs was abducted in Afghanistan in January 2020.   (Twitter via AP)

Charlene Cakora has been trying for more than a year, during two presidential administrations, to win US help for rescuing her brother from the Taliban. A Navy veteran, Mark Frerichs, 59, had worked as a civil engineer for 10 years in Kabul when he was kidnapped, the BBC reports. Cakora said her family has been patient, but after the collapse of the Afghanistan government and President Biden's declaration that the war is ending, she fears time is running out. "We don't question the President's reasons for getting out of Afghanistan," Cakora, of Lombard, Illinois, said in a statement. "We needed to hear why he didn't use any leverage to get my brother home and what he's prepared to do now."

Family members have grown frustrated with the efforts of the Biden and Trump administrations to gain Frerichs' release. They met Monday with officials from the National Security Council, State Department, FBI, and Department of Justice, per the Daily Herald. They've been to the White House recently. Trump officials had told the family to be patient, and "we have been hearing the same things from this administration," Cakora said. "They kept telling us they had time, they had leverage. Well, they didn't." Illinois' Democratic senators wrote Biden in January, on the anniversary of the abduction, that troop withdrawals would leave the US without its main leverage in winning hostages' freedom.

"We must ensure we bring all Americans, including Mark Frerichs, safely home," Sen. Dick Durban said Monday. Art Frerichs, the captive's father, said he's putting his faith now in lawmakers. "It seems like the politicians don't get anything done unless it's last minute," he told WBBM. Taliban representatives in Qatar did not respond to a BBC request for comment. A State Department spokesperson said the US special representative for Afghanistan has pushed the Taliban to release Frerichs.

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Paul Overby Jr., last heard from in 2014, is the only other American unaccounted for who's thought to have been taken by the Taliban. "We place a high priority on Marks Frerichs' safety and will not stop working until he is safely returned to his family," the spokesperson said. Biden has given an end date for the war of Aug. 31. When a war ends, each side get to have their prisoners come home," Cakora said. "That is all we are asking for Mark." (More Taliban stories.)

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