Afghanistan’s withdrawal raises concerns about kidnapped Americans

Washington (AP) — As the United States moves to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan over the next five months, there is growing concern about one American at risk of being left behind.

Mark Frerichs, a contractor in Lombard, Illinois, believed that it had been held by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network for over a year, but President Joe Biden’s Last week’s speech in Afghanistan.. Also, the withdrawal of the army, which is scheduled to be completed by September 11, is conditional on his release from detention, and when the military presence is removed from the country, the United States will have the bargaining power to bring Frerich home. It fueled concerns that it could be lost.

“Every leverage we had has just announced to the world, the Taliban and Haqqani that we will withdraw. It is not only our power, but our military power to save him. It’s also, “said Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican who served in Afghanistan and Green Bellett, in an interview with the AP news agency. “That’s totally disappointing.”

The Biden administration said returning hostages was a top priority. Nevertheless, the fate of a prisoner of war is unlikely to undermine broader policy interest in ending the 20-year war that began in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. It is not uncommon for the issue of detainees to be hidden by other foreign policy issues, as it happened last week when the administration did not mention Russia’s detention of two Americans. Punitive action against Moscow.

Still, for Frerich’s family, his return is not a factor in withdrawal, as is the fact that the Trump administration signed a peace agreement in February 2020, weeks after it disappeared in Afghanistan while working in Afghanistan. That is a source of frustration about domestic engineering projects.

His sister, Shirley Kakora, said in a statement that the withdrawal of the army “timestamps Mark. It takes 150 days to get him home or we are out of power.”

Democrats Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, Senators of Frerich’s home country, expressed similar concerns in a letter to Biden earlier this year.

In an interview on Monday, Duckworth said Frerich was part of the debate and the administration reassured authorities that he was aware of his case. She said she spoke personally with Biden herself last Thursday and handed him a note with information about the incident.

“He said he knew very well, and he also asked me to let his family know that he knew and was on top of it,” Duckworth said.

The United States has not given much information about Frerich’s fate or status, but confirmed on Monday that it was in active negotiations with the Taliban.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that Zalmay Khalilzad, a U.S. peace ambassador working closely with Roger Kirstens, a special presidential envoy on hostage issues, said, “Mr. Frerich’s release to the Taliban. He continues to put pressure on him and continues to improve his position. ” In advanced level efforts in Doha and Islamabad. We put Mark Frerich’s safety first and will not quit his job until he returns to his family safely. “

The AP reported in January that the Taliban during the Trump administration had called for the release of combatants imprisoned for drugs in the United States as part of a broader effort to resolve Afghanistan’s problems. The request prompted a dialogue between the Department of State and the Department of Justice on whether such a liberation could occur, although it did not occur in the end.

Duckworth, who spoke of the case with Khalilzad, said the Taliban continued to “stick” to its release and did not break out of it.

The announced withdrawal from Afghanistan was one of two important foreign policy moves announced by Biden last week. The other involved sanctions against Russia for election interference and hacking of federal agencies.

The White House did not take advantage of the opportunity for U.S. authorities to call Moscow for unjustified detention of at least two Americans: corporate security in Michigan, sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage. Security executive Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed, a veteran of the Marine Corps, sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of a quarrel with Russian police.

Welan’s brother, David, hoped for a reconciliation between Moscow and Washington in a statement, but repatriation (Russia responded to U.S. sanctions with its own diplomatic sanctions) made it more difficult. He said he was also concerned about the possibility.

“First, sanctions continue to make it difficult for both countries to create the relationships and dialogue needed to create conditions that could lead to Paul’s release,” Welan wrote. “Second, sieving the staff of the US Embassy in Russia will make the difficult task of supporting the consulate even more difficult.”


Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at