The family of U.S. Navy veteran and aid worker Mark Frerichs, who is currently being held hostage in Afghanistan by the Taliban, is reportedly “furious” at the Biden administration over its alleged neglect and inaction in bringing him home.
What are the details?
In an interview with the New Yorker published Friday, Frerichs’ sister, Charlene Cakora, lashed out at President Joe Biden and his senior officials, claiming their promises to help proved to be nothing more than lip service when they left her brother behind during the administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.
“We are furious with the Biden administration,” Cakora told the magazine. “The Taliban has been trying to trade my brother for someone in U.S. custody for over a year, and the White House has never given them a reply. Sending U.S. officials to Kabul as they did today did nothing to move the ball forward on Mark’s safe return.”
Later, in a statement directed squarely at the White House, Cakora said: “President Biden, statements are not enough. You have had a way to bring Mark home since you took office. Now we need you to act. Please don’t leave my brother behind.”
What’s the background?
Frerichs, 59, of Illinois, was reportedly abducted by Taliban forces in February 2020 after spending a decade in the war-torn country as a civil engineer working on development projects. The U.S. government believes he is being held in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region by the Haqqani network, a militant terrorist organization in the country whose members have recently risen to positions of political power.
For months, his survival was in question. However, a recently released video obtained by the New Yorker appeared to show Frerichs alive and physically stable. In the video, allegedly recorded on November 28, 2021, he seemed to read from a script requesting the Taliban to “please, release me … so that I may be reunited with my family.”
Before the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Frerichs was believed to be the last remaining American hostage in Afghanistan. Though during the withdrawal numerous reports indicated that hundreds, if not more, may have been added to that number.
Earlier this year, Biden issued a statement specifically mentioning Frerichs’ name, calling on the Taliban to release him if they desired “any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy.” But so far there hasn’t been any movement on the matter.
Progress in bringing other Americans home is slowly being made, however. Just a few days ago, the U.S. secured the release of two other Americans: Safi Raouf, a 27-year-old Navy reservist and aid worker, and his brother, Anees Khalil.
Cakora said she is overjoyed for the former hostages and their families but couldn’t help wanting the same for her brother, who she noted had been in captivity for longer.
She expressed frustration with both the Trump administration and now the Biden administration, claiming each has put her family on the back burner, adding that Biden officials have frequently assured her that they are doing all they can, yet without yielding any results.
The grieving sister went on to say that administration officials have repeatedly told her they would speak with her in person, but such a meeting has yet to take place.
Cakora has claimed that the Taliban have remained consistent in their demand: In exchange for Frerichs’ release, they want convicted Afghan druglord Hajji Bashar Noorzai released from U.S. federal prison, where he has been for the last 17 years.
In recent months, Illinois Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin have joined Cakora’s calls for the exchange to take place.
In response to the calls, an anonymous administration official told the New Yorker, “Not everything we do is discussed in public, but we will work relentlessly to bring all Americans home, where they belong, and reunite them with their families.”
Here’s more on the story:
Navy veteran Mark Frerichs still missing in Afghanistan as U.S. troops prepare for final withdraw…