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Report: Afghan-American Citizen, Brother Released From Taliban Capture

Taliban flag
People gather for a flag hoisting ceremony of the Taliban flag on the Wazir Akbar Khan hill in Kabul on Thursday. (Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 01 April 2022 02:37 PM EDT

An Afghan-American naval reservist and his brother were released from Taliban custody on Friday, after the siblings had been detained since mid-December, according to a CNN report.

The Biden administration secured the transfer of Safiullah Rauf, 27, and his brother Anees Khalil, to safe harbor in Qatar after months of talks with the Taliban. Rauf had reportedly been doing humanitarian work in Afghanistan, prior to being detained.

"We can confirm that Safiullah Rauf and Anees Khalil, a U.S. citizen and a lawful permanent resident, respectively, have been released after being unjustly detained in Afghanistan. They are now in Qatar before traveling home," said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

In a public statement, Rauf — who had reportedly deferred medical school enrollment to join up with the Human First Coalition (HFC), in the wake of the U.S. military's Afghanistan evacuation last August — expressed his appreciation for being released, while also acknowledging the work that still needs to be done in Afghanistan.

"Anees and I wish to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to secure our release, as well as everyone who has supported the humanitarian efforts of our organization Human First Coalition," said Rauf. "At this time, we are looking forward to reuniting with our family and loved ones, and ultimately, I hope we can continue to advocate for and seek ways to serve the Afghan people in this critical time of need in Afghanistan."

Human First Coalition's primary mission focuses on providing safety and resources to the people left behind in Afghanistan, who are now living under Taliban rule.

Back in October, HFC spokesman Alex Plitsas told the Washington Examiner they communicate with the Taliban "when there's a need to engage with them," while adding, "they've been extremely cooperative" to date.

"We are grateful for the efforts of all those who worked to secure their release, but more work remains," said Price. "Unjustly holding Americans captive is always unacceptable, and we will not stop until every American who is being unjustly held against their will is able to hug their families once again."

Regarding other Taliban detainees, The New Yorker reported of a hostage video featuring American naval veteran Mark Frerichs, who was kidnapped back in 2020. It remains unclear whether Frerichs is still alive, since the reported date of the video went back to Nov. 28, 2021.

"Release me, so that I may be reunited with my family," Frerichs said. "Thank you."

Frerichs' sister, Charlene Cakora, confirmed to The New Yorker that her brother Mark was indeed featured in the video. "Public confirmation of our family's long-held belief that he is alive after more than two years in captivity."

Cakora added: "The Taliban has been trying to trade my brother for someone in U.S. custody for over a year, and the White House has never given them a reply. Sending U.S. officials to Kabul as they did today did nothing to move the ball forward on Mark's safe return."

Recently, President Joe Biden met with the parents of Trevor Reed, a 30-year-old American and former U.S. Marine, who has been detained in Russia for nearly three years.

WNBA star Brittney Griner also remains detained in Russia, after being stopped at a checkpoint when entering the country.


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An Afghan-American Naval reservist and his brother were released from Taliban custody on Friday, after the siblings had been detained since mid-December, according to a CNN report.
taliban, afghanistan, joe biden, qatar
Friday, 01 April 2022 02:37 PM
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