A suburban Navy veteran kidnapped by the Taliban last winter is still in captivity, and the chaotic end of America’s presence in Afghanistan is making any path to his release infinitely more complicated.
Mark Frerichs, a Navy veteran and engineer from suburban Lombard, is still being held hostage by the Taliban, and family members say that while they understand the administration’s decision to pull troops from Afghanistan, they are upset that more is not being done to return Frerichs to the U.S.
“We don’t question the president’s reasons for getting out of Afghanistan. We needed to hear why he didn’t use any leverage to get my brother home, and what he’s prepared to do now,” Frerichs’ sister Charlene Cakora said in a statement.
Frerichs’ family was in Washington at the White House prior to President Joe Biden’s address to the nation on Monday, and while they say they’ve been patient in waiting for action, the fall of the Afghani government requires immediate and decisive action.
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“We want our troops to come home safely to their families, but my brother is a Navy veteran and a good man – he deserves to come home to his family too. We have been patient and we trusted our government. Now we need results,” Cakora said.
In recent weeks, the Taliban have overrun Afghan forces, marching into Kabul and re-establishing the government that was ousted by the United States military in 2001. Now, Kabul’s airport is hanging on a knife’s edge, passenger aircraft are being overwhelmed, and thousands of Afghans are searching for any exit they can find.
American troops are holding the airport as the last stage of what is turning into an unceremonious exit from the country, but Biden is defending his decision for troops to leave the country.
“After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces,” the president said Monday. “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”
Biden has taken plenty of criticism from military experts and Republican officials.
“We knew that the Taliban was going to do what they did. We didn’t think it was going to be this quick,” retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Tangen said. “Instead of helping the people that we promised to help, we have turned our backs on them again.”