Taliban & U.S. Prisoner Swap

September 19, 2022

We have secured the release of Mark Frerichs, and he will soon be home.

Pres. Biden in a statement announcing the release of a U.S. contractor that was taken hostage in Afghanistan in 2020. Other officials have confirmed that Frerichs’ release was part of a prisoner swap with the Taliban.

Why It Matters: Frerichs, a Navy veteran, is believed to be the last U.S. citizen who was detained by the Taliban. Officials have confirmed he was part of a prisoner swap with Bashir Noorzai, an Afghan drug lord who received a life sentence in 2009 for trafficking $50 million of heroin.

  • The U.S. does not recognizes the Taliban as a formal government entity. The Taliban have described this exchange as a potential shift in relations between the two countries.
  • *However* the group that is believed to be behind the kidnapping of Frerichs, the Haqqani network, is labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. government; some members of the Haqqani network have played central roles in forming the new Taliban government in Kabul.
  • Frerichs family released a statement announcing his homecoming. “I am so happy to hear that my brother is safe and on his way home to us. Our family has prayed for this each day of the more than 31 months he has been a hostage…” said his sister, Charlene Cakora.
  • The Taliban held a press conference in Afghanistan earlier today. Noorzai spoke to reporters and said, “I pray for more success of the Taliban. I hope this exchange can lead to peace between Afghanistan and America, because an American was released and I am also free now.”
  • Something to Consider: Pres. Biden recently met with the families of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, both of which are imprisoned in Russia. The U.S. has reported ongoing talks with Russia to negotiate their release but no official plan is known at this time.

American Hostage in Afghanistan Freed in Prisoner Swap With Taliban (Wall Street Journal)

Taliban release American engineer Frerichs in prisoner swap (Reuters)

Statement by President Biden on the Release of Mark Frerichs (White House)

by Jenna Lee,