On February 5, Newsweek reported that a U.S. citizen, Mark R. Frerichs, was kidnapped in Afghanistan. According to their report, Frerichs, a U.S. contractor from Lombard, Illinois, was kidnapped last Friday in Khost, southeast Afghanistan.
Here’s what you need to know about Mark R. Frerichs:
He Is An American Contractor Who Has Traveled to Afghanistan Regularly
According to Newsweek, Frerichs is a 57-year-old U.S. government contractor who has “regularly traveled to Afghanistan since 2012.” On his LinkedIn profile, Frerichs indicates he is the managing director for International Logistical Support (ILS). He adds that he is a University of Phoenix graduate and a “Veteran US Navy Diver and Civil Engineer living, working and consulting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and other conflict zones for over ten continuous years.”
Heavy reached out to the State Department for more information about Frerichs’ kidnapping and received the following statement: “The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State.” They were unable to provide any further comment about the situation.
No Group Has Claimed Responsibility For The Kidnapping To Date
Newsweek reported that U.S. officials informed them no group has claimed responsibility for Frerichs’ kidnapping, but they believe the “Taliban-aligned Haqqani network” was behind this operation. There are also no details immediately clear about the circumstances around Frerichs’ capture.
A Country-Wide Recovery Effort Involving Multiple Agencies Is Ongoing
Since his kidnapping on Friday, there have been country-wide efforts to rescue the American contractor, including collaboration between the Departments of State and Defense and the FBI’s Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell.
The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell was established by the White House on June 24, 2015. According to its website, the purpose of the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell is to align multiple agencies in responding to the kidnapping of American citizens, whether they have been “kidnapped for ransom by criminal groups or held by foreign terrorist organizations.”
The official website for the fusion cell states that in the past three years, over 180 American citizens kidnapped abroad have been recovered. The fusion cell focuses on the liaison between agencies and keeping the family of the kidnapped citizen informed and engaged.
The Haqqani Network Has Orchestrated Many U.S.-Targeted Kidnappings
The Haqqani network used to be backed by the CIA in fighting against Soviet presence in Afghanistan. It has now become one of the main insurgent groups in Afghanistan that the U.S. faces and is responsible for many other kidnappings of U.S. nationals and other foreigners. In November 2019, in a high-profile exchange, three senior Haqqani officials were released in exchange for the release of an American citizen and an Australian citizen who were kidnapped in 2016.