A Lombard man kidnapped in Afghanistan two years ago is seen in a video pleading for his release so that he can be reunited with his family, according to a recording posted Friday by The New Yorker magazine.
Mark Frerichs, 59, a Navy veteran and civilian contractor who is believed held by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, appears by himself in the video, sitting upright before a dark curtain.
In the video, which he says was recorded on Nov. 28, 2021, he says he has patiently awaited his release and adds: “I’d like to ask the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: please release me. Release me so that I may be re-united with my family. Thank you.”
The video from an unidentified source in Afghanistan was sent directly to journalist Michael Ames at the magazine.
“He reached out to eight different reporters with an offer and I was the only one who replied,” Ames told WGN News Friday.
Ames, an author and freelance contributor for the New Yorker has been following Frerich’s case closely. Ames believes the Haqqani network is trying to get the Biden Administration’s attention.
“They’ve been offering a deal here for almost two years and they haven’t received a reply,” he said. “So they tend to reach out to journalists and writers like me who are covering a story to help move things along.”
That deal initiated by the Taliban involves releasing Frerichs in exchange for a convicted Afghan drug lord who Ames said has served 17 years in a U.S. federal prison.
An FBI spokeswoman in Washington declined to comment on the video’s authenticity, but a sister of Frerichs, Charlene Cakora, said in a statement Friday that she was grateful to the Taliban for releasing the video and described it as “public confirmation of our family’s long-held belief that he is alive after more than two years in captivity.”
She appealed to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to step up efforts to get Frerich released.
“We consider this to be an important indicator of the Taliban’s interest in seeking to arrange for Mark’s immediate release. President Biden and Secretary Blinken, we urge you to take bold and decisive action to bring Mark home,” she added.
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth issued a statement that said, “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.