Afghan American Naval reservist released by Taliban

Passengers leave to board on a Pakistan International Airlines plane
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Afghan American Naval reservist Safi Rauf and his brother were released by the Taliban Friday after successful negotiation efforts by the Biden administration.

Rauf, 27, had been detained by the fundamentalist group since December after conducting humanitarian work as president of the Human First Coalition in Afghanistan.

“On December 18, 2021, my brother Anees Khalil and I were engaged in humanitarian aid work in Afghanistan when we were taken into the Taliban’s captivity and were subsequently held by them for the last 105 days,” Rauf said in a statement published by his organization.

The Biden administration took part in negotiations with the Taliban for the brothers’ release for the duration of their captivity.

Rauf credited his release to “the efforts of the US government (most especially political officer JP Feldmayer, Special Representative Tom West, and LtCol Jason Hock), our family and loved ones, the Qatari government, the British government, our team at Human First Coalition, and countless friends in country, in the region, and all over the world.”

“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,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price. “They are now in Qatar before traveling home. We are grateful for the efforts of all those who worked to secure their release, but more work remains. 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.”

“Our understanding is that this exceptionally unfortunate situation arose due to a misunderstanding; we did nothing wrong,” said Rauf of his detention by the Taliban.

Rauf’s statement concluded: “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. 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.”

The Human First Coalition was founded by Rauf and his brothers to aid Afghans in evacuating Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover that occurred shortly after American troops left the country in August.

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