An American contractor was kidnapped by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan last week, Newsweek reports. Mark Frerichs, 57, the managing director of U.S. contractor International Logistical Support, was reportedly kidnapped last Friday in the province of Khost. While no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, U.S. officials told the magazine they believe the Haqqani network was behind the operation. The Departments of State and Defense, along with the FBI, have been working to locate Frerichs in the past few days—running ground and intelligence operations to track him. Newsweek writes that it held off publishing the story until the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, a multi-agency team, deemed that the recovery efforts for Frerichs had progressed. “The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” Holly Jensen, a spokeswoman for the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, said.
Late last year, the U.S. released three senior Haqqani network officials in exchange for one American citizen and an Australian citizen kidnapped in 2016. At the time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the exchange was a “goodwill gesture” and President Trump hoped it would lead to further cooperation with the Taliban.