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Mark R. Frerichs, a native of Lombard, Illinois, was kidnapped last Friday in the province of Jost, located southeast of the country. This information was disclosed to Newsweek by US officials and confirmed by federal agencies. A great search operation has been launched to find his whereabouts.
An American contractor was captured last week allegedly by Afghan militants close to the Taliban, unleashing a search operation across the country, Newsweek reported, citing US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Mark R. Frerichs, a native of Lombard, Illinois , was kidnapped last Friday in the province of Jost, located in the southeast of the country and borders the so-called tribal areas administered by the federal government of Pakistan (FATA).
Frerichs, a former US Navy diver, currently 57 years old , serves as managing director of International Logistics Support, a government contractor, and officials said he had been travelling to Afghanistan on a regular basis since 2012 since during The last decade has worked as a civil engineer in several conflict zones.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping so far, officials believe it was the responsibility of the Haqqani network, aligned with the Taliban and blacklisted by terrorist groups of the State Department.
According to Newsweek, his editorial team was aware of the news of the kidnapping since Monday, but the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, a team made up of several security and intelligence agencies, asked them to delay the publication several days, to advance the first operations of search, as part of a joint operation between the US State and Defense departments, with support from the FBI.
In recent days, US forces have been carrying out intelligence gathering actions to track the contractor’s whereabouts, although winter storm weather conditions have hindered other key operations, such as drone aerial surveillance.
Since 2018, more than 180 US citizens captured by criminal groups or foreign terrorist organizations have been returned to the US , mostly thanks to the negotiations run by the FBI, Newsweek reported.
Although they were previously backed by the CIA to fight against the USSR, the Haqqani network, aligned with the Taliban, became one of the most powerful insurgent groups in the fight against the United States and has been responsible for the kidnapping of several US citizens and foreign.
The recent kidnapping of contractor Frerichs occurs in the midst of complex and lengthy negotiations between the United States and the Taliban, which at the moment have failed to reach agreement.
Last Tuesday, the Taliban accused the US side of blocking the talks. His spokesman, Zabihulá Mujahid, said on Twitter that they have “the will and the ability to reach a resolution.” But “the numerous American demands and disputes between the United States and those responsible for Kabul hurt the negotiations,” he added.
Despite sitting at the dialogue table with Washington, the Taliban have continued to carry out violent actions against both Afghan security forces, especially in rural areas, as well as against US forces. Such is the case of the E-11A aircraft of the US air force, shot down near the Afghan city of Ghazni on January 27, an attack that the Taliban themselves claimed.