Joe Biden’s administration wants guerrilla insurgents to free a U.S. military veteran kidnapped in Afghanistan.
The president wants the Haqqani network to release Mark Frerichs immediately.
Biden warned the Taliban-linked group the matter was not open for discussion almost two years after the U.S. Navy veteran was first taken hostage.
“Threatening the safety of Americans or any innocent civilians is always unacceptable, and hostage-taking is an act of particular cruelty and cowardice,” he said in a statement. “The Taliban must immediately release Mark before it can expect any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy—this is not negotiable.”
Frerichs most recently worked as a civil engineer and contractor. He was kidnapped in the capital of Kabul during January 2020.
“He spent a decade helping the people of Afghanistan, he has done nothing wrong—and yet, for two years, the Taliban has held him captive,” Biden said.
The president stressed that emotional distress affected Frerichs and his family members back home in Lombard, Illinois.
“Mark is a native of Illinois, a son, brother, and his family has now endured two gut-wrenching years—praying for his safety, wondering where and how he is, aching for his return,” he said.
The remarks came less than six months after Biden supervised the U.S. military’s withdrawal from the Middle Eastern nation. The Taliban quickly seized control of the presidential palace in August 2021 and allegedly began punishing Afghans who supported U.S. forces.
Frerichs’s family members thanked the president for reminding the Haqqani network to release the veteran.
“What we really want is to have Mark home,” sister Charlene Cakor said, according to the Associated Press. “We know the president has options in front of him to make that happen, and hope Mark’s safe return will become a priority for him personally.”