Charlene Cakora, 57, spent a frantic week in American Washington DC trying to convey a message to President Joe Biden: rescue her brother from Taliban captivity.
Mrs Cakora’s brother, Mark Frerichs, was kidnapped by the group over a year ago. He is one of two remaining Americans thought to have been kidnapped by the Taliban during the US war in Afghanistan who is still unaccounted for.
Amid the Afghan government’s collapse, the fall of Kabul and chaotic scenes of thousands scrambling to flee the country being broadcast around the globe, his family said they were increasingly desperate for his return, and frustrated by the lack of progress from the government.
“We have been at war with the Taliban for 20 years. President Biden declared the war over on 31 August,” Mrs. Cakora told the BBC. “When a war ends, each side gets to have their prisoners come home. That is all we are asking for Mark.”
The family had “waited patiently” through both the Trump and Biden administrations, she said.
“[We] were told that efforts were underway to get my brother home,” she added. “Well, they were not.”
At least seven US civilians have been taken captive or gone missing during the war in Afghanistan. Of the total, one was reportedly killed, one escaped, and three were rescued or released. An eighth captive, Bowe Bergdahl, was a US soldier captured after deserting his post in 2009. He was released in 2014.
Mr Frerichs, 59, had been living and working in Kabul as a civil engineer for 10 years when he was kidnapped.
A “journeyman contractor” who went from project to project, motivated by a desire to help people in need, he had found “a good fit for himself in Afghanistan,” Mrs Cakora said. “Three days before he was kidnapped, he told me that he had just finished a municipal water project. He was so proud of it.”
The US Navy veteran was lured to a meeting to discuss a potential project and taken against his will to Khost Province, a former national security official told the BBC.