The family of an Illinois contractor who is believed to have been kidnapped in Afghanistan by an offshoot of the Taliban fear that the Trump administration plans to withdraw troops from the country could cause the veteran to be left behind.
Mark Frerichs, a 57-year-old Navy veteran, was abducted in late January/early February while doing construction contract work. He is believed to be held by the Haqqani network, and offshoot of the Taliban.
His disappearance came a month before the United States signed a peace deal with the Taliban which involved a tentative timeline for when American troops would be withdrawn.
‘We want to see US troops come home, but my brother is a Navy veteran and the same Taliban we have been negotiating with have had him since January 31. We are praying President Donald Trump will not leave him behind,’ Charlene Cakora, the veteran’s sister, explained to CNN.
A source close with Frerichs’ family said that they have not spoken with officials about the withdrawing of the troops. The source also added that a request from the family to meet or call President Trump was denied.
The family has been in talks with the State Department and with Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation.
In a series of tweets from May, Khalilzad shared that he had been in talks with Afghani officials about both Frerichs and Paul Overby Jr. – an American who disappeared in the country in 2014.
Khalilzad would eventually tell reporters that the Taliban told him that they weren’t holding Freirichs, with the representative asking them ‘to look again, to talk to their subcommanders, that this is of the highest importance and it would be, if they did hold him, a violation of the commitments they have made to us.’
‘We’re pressing very hard on that and I’ll be pressing the issue further on my next trip,’ Khalilizad said back in May.
In August, the State Department’s Rewards for Justice and the FBI announced that there was an up to $5million reward for information pertaining to the veteran’s kidnapping.
It is currently unknown and unclear whether the Trump administration has attempted to have active discussions with the Taliban about Frerichs’ release.