U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad was supposed to be securing the release of Mark Frerichs, a 59-year-old U.S. Navy veteran from Lombard, Illinois, and failed. Now, Khalilzadb is not communicating, but he's still on the government payroll.
Mark Franchs was abducted in 2020 by the Taliban while working on international development projects and traded to the Haqqani network, a violent Taliban faction. The network's leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, had a $10 million FBI bounty and was named interior minister last week by the Taliban government.
The Biden Administration pledged more than 64 million in aid and funding for Afghanistan since the disastrous pullout, which will be funneled through the United Nations after congressional approval but still, no Mark Frerichs. Overall, the U.S. had pledged more than 350 million to go back to Afghanistan, and still, no Mark Frerichs.
Khalilzad not only failed but seemed too afraid to speak to the family because he knew that the last time he talked to the Taliban, he prioritized other agreements and did not try to secure Frerich's release. If that's not true, where is U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, what's he have to say for himself, and why has his "expertise" failed?
Frerichs's sister Charlene Cakora told Reuters that Khalilzad hasn't spoken to them since Biden took office. The U.S. Department of State told Reuters that senior U.S. officials "meet with the family regularly." Still, it's devastating for them when the one person who has direct contact with the kidnappers (Khalilzad) won't speak to them.
The State Department is offering $5 million for information that leads to Frerichs location, recovery, and return. However, State also knows that there is one more option for getting Frerichs back. Reuters, along with multiple outlets, have reported that the Taliban will trade Frerichs for Bashir Noorzai, an Afghan drug lord serving a life sentence in the United States for smuggling $50 million of heroin into the country.
If the Biden Administration is willing to work with wanted FBI criminals in the new Afghanistan government and ready to send the Taliban government hundreds of millions of dollars, why is it so hard to get one man home?
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