US Department of Defense
A Navy vet who was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan could be at risk of being left behind by the Biden administration.
According to The Washington Free Beacon:
Haqqani network operatives backed by the Taliban abducted Mark Frerichs, a civilian contractor in Afghanistan for the U.S. government, in January 2020. The government has made little progress in retrieving the Navy veteran. U.S. authorities have been able to establish that Frerichs is alive, but have yet to disclose his whereabouts. The State Department has briefed lawmakers in recent weeks, but according to Rep. Mike Waltz (R., Fla.), a former Green Beret in Afghanistan and lead advocate for bringing Frerichs home, the Biden administration’s opacity has hindered the urgent recovery operation.
“I am incredibly frustrated by their lack of responsiveness and lack of answers,” Waltz told the Washington Free Beacon. “The question is: What’s the plan now?”
The United States faces dwindling leverage over the Taliban amid a public deadline for withdrawal. As the Biden administration completes a full evacuation of military forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban are waging a violent offensive across the country, effectively squeezing the Afghan government—which receives backing from the United States—out of power. President Joe Biden conceded in a July speech that the Taliban are at their strongest since 2001, and analysis from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies shows the terrorists took control of some 139 districts in the country in two months. American nationals are not the sole focus of the pull-out. The State Department is scrambling to evacuate Afghan translators from the country as the Taliban steamroll through local security forces.
The State Department, Justice Department—which often plays a role in international hostage negotiations—and White House did not return requests for comment. Biden mentioned Frerichs’s name for the first time in a July speech, but it is unclear if government authorities have yet met with the hostage’s family. A U.S. government official familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, told the Free Beacon they are working on Frerichs’s release with “focused purpose.”
Experts have said that the tweaking of America’s power in the region will make negotiation with the Taliban even more difficult.