A video of Mark Frerich appeared online over two years after he was kidnapped by the Taliban.
Frerich is an American engineer and a United States Navy veteran who was abducted in Kabul in 2020.
The video, first obtained by The New Yorker from an unidentified individual in Afghanistan, is the first evidence that Frerich is alive. The outlet noted in its reporting that it has been unable to verify the video’s source.
In the footage, the fifty-nine-year-old appears in Afghan clothing. He seems to be reading from a script and states the recording was made on Nov. 28, 2021.
“I’ve been patiently waiting for my release,” Frerichs says. “I’d like to ask the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, please, release me.”
“Release me so that I may be reunited with my family,” the Illinois native says at the end of the video. “Thank you.”
Frerich worked in Afghanistan for more than 10 years doing humanitarian work.
His family urged President Donald Trump and then President Joe Biden to negotiate a deal for his release.
“Last year, following the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, Frerichs’ family expressed frustration that their loved one, who served his country, was left behind, noting that efforts to meet with national security adviser Jake Sullivan were denied,” reports American Military News.
In July 2021, Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to make a deal to secure Frerich’s release and vowed to continue to advocate for him until he was back in her state.
Duckworth told The New Yorker that she would support a prisoner exchange for the first time if it ensured Frerich’s safe return.
“As the only remaining U.S. hostage of the war in Afghanistan, we owe it to Mark Frerichs and his family to pull every possible lever we can to bring home this Navy Veteran who served our nation honorably,” the senator said. She suggested the exchange could include Bashir Noorzai, a drug lord who has been imprisoned in America for 16 years.
On the eve of the second anniversary of Frerich’s kidnapping, Biden called hostage-taking “an act of particular cruelty and cowardice.” He said the Taliban “must immediately release Mark before it can expect any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy.”
“To Mark, and to all the Americans being held hostage and wrongfully detained overseas, and to all their families and friends who are enduring the nightmare of their absence: know that my administration will continue to work steadfastly until every American being unjustly held against their will comes home,” Biden said in the 2022 statement.
Charlene Cakora, Frerich’s sister, released a statement saying the video was “an important indicator of the Taliban’s interest in seeking to arrange for Mark’s immediate release.”
She asked Biden and Blinken to “take bold and decisive action.”
“President Biden, statements are not enough,” Cakora said, per CBS News. “You have had a way to bring Mark home since you took office. Now we need you to act.”
“It is time to bring home the only American currently held hostage in Afghanistan,” she said.
The video of Frerich came as the Biden administration announced it had secured the release of Safi Rauf, a Naval reservist and President of the Human First Collation, and his brother, Anees Khalil. Rauf and Khalil were taken into Taliban custody on Dec. 18, 2021.
A statement from our president, Safi Rauf, who was released from Taliban custody today pic.twitter.com/tUTzXGNgzX
— Human First Coalition (@HumanFirstAfg) April 1, 2022