Video Is First Sign of Life of Abducted American

Mark Frerichs, held by a Taliban faction since 2020, is seen in clip obtained by 'New Yorker'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2022 2:50 PM CDT
Video Is First Sign of Life of Abducted American
In this undated photo, Mark Frerichs, a contractor from Illinois, poses in Iraq.   (Twitter via AP)

Friday brings significant developments on the fate of three Americans held in captivity by the Taliban in Afghanistan—two have been freed and the third was seen in a video, the first sign of life in two years. Details:

  • New video: The New Yorker obtained a video (you can watch it via that link) made by Mark Frerichs, a 59-year-old Navy vet and civil engineer who was abducted in Kabul in 2020. Frerichs pleads for his release in the 30-second clip, which he says was made in November 2021. The US believes Frerichs is being held by the Haqqani network of the Taliban, which is demanding the release of Hajji Bashar Noorzai, an Afghan who is in prison in the US for drug trafficking.
  • In favor: In response to the video, Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Frerich's home state of Illinois said the US should indeed free Noorzai. “As the only remaining US hostage of the war in Afghanistan, we owe it to Mark Frerichs and his family to pull every possible lever we can,” she tells the magazine. Noorzai "cooperated with our government by providing intelligence and helping us recover weapons from the Taliban for years and, as an elderly man in poor health, he is unlikely to return to any position of operational significance for the Taliban," she said. "At this point releasing him—after he served 17 years in prison—appears to be the only way to secure Mark’s safe return, so I would support the Administration taking this step to ensure an American is not left behind.”

  • Brothers freed: Meanwhile, CNN reports that Safi Rauf and his brother, Anees Khalil, were freed after being captured by the Taliban in December while doing humanitarian work in Kabul. Rauf, 27, is described as an Afghan-American who served in the US Navy Reserves. He was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan but came to the US and graduated from high school in Nebraska. His brother is described by the US as a "lawful permanent resident," per the Hill, meaning he has a greed card to live here.
  • Giving credit: Rauf credited his release to “the efforts of the US government (most especially political officer JP Feldmayer, Special Representative Tom West, and LtCol Jason Hock), our family and loved ones, the Qatari government, the British government, our team at Human First Coalition, and countless friends in country, in the region, and all over the world.” The Biden administration had been negotiating with the Taliban for their release during the brothers' captivity, notes the Hill.
(More Taliban stories.)

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