The Taliban released a video Wednesday showing an Australian and an American who were kidnapped in August. This was the first time they have been seen since their abduction. The two men, identified as Kevin King, an American, and Timothy Weeks, an Australian, were abducted by the Taliban outside the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, where they worked as professors.
The nearly 13-minute Taliban propaganda video that was posted online claims to have been shot on Jan. 1, 2017. In the video, the men are apparently delivering a message on behalf of the kidnappers, and asking U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to offer a prisoner swap for their release. In the video, Weeks pleads to Trump to help free them and speaks with tears in his eyes: "My mother, I know you are sick in hospital. I know I may never see you again. If we stay here for much longer we will be killed. I don't want to die here."
This video has been sent to the media by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, and in it the pair appears pale and unshaven. State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner reportedly said "U.S. authorities have been studying the video and could not confirm its authenticity." He refused to comment on the case, citing privacy considerations, but added: "Taking and holding civilian hostages is reprehensible and we condemn such actions in the strongest terms."
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia issued a statement saying: "The Australian government has been working closely with several other governments to secure the release of an Australian man kidnapped in Afghanistan in August 2016." Quoting a request for privacy from the man's family, and "in the interests of his own safety and well-being," Australian officials would not comment further, the statement said.
This video is quite similar to what an American Caitlan Coleman, 31, and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, 33, who were also kidnapped by the Taliban in 2012, reportedly said in their video that was released in December 2016. The Taliban said Wednesday that it "wants to deliver the videos of these detained invaders to their respective countries so their people understand that their governments will not listen to the reasonable and easy demands of the mujahideen for the release of their citizens," CNN reported.
In September 2016, three administration officials reportedly said that U.S. Special Operations Forces from SEAL Team 6 tried to rescue the two teachers soon after they were kidnapped but the captives were not found at the location where the U.S. forces had raided.