An American has been captured and taken hostage by the Taliban after the group raided the offices of a Swiss nonprofit group based in Afghanistan for allegedly promoting Christianity.
On Friday, the International Assistance Mission (IAM) confirmed that the Taliban had detained the American worker and 18 others after the radical group stormed its offices in Ghor, just 400 miles outside of Kabul.
Since the Taliban seized control of the country two years ago, NGOs have become a more significant threat. The group introduced harsh measures, banning Afghan women from education after the sixth grade and from public life and work— including working for NGOs.
Three members, including the American, were taken in the first raid, and the 15 others were taken ten days later. However, they are being held in an unknown location in Kabul— the site of President Joe Biden’s 2021 botched Afghanistan withdrawal.
“We are unaware of the circumstances that led to these incidents and have not been advised of the reason for the detention of our staff members,” the International Assistance Mission said in a statement.
“The well-being and security of our colleagues are paramount to us, and we are doing everything possible to ensure their safety and secure their swift release.”
However, Taliban officials said the detainees were taken into custody for “propagating and promoting Christianity.”
The State Department said it knew that a U.S. citizen was captured by the Taliban, reinforcing its warning about U.S. nationals not traveling to Afghanistan because of armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.
“Travel to all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe, and the risk of kidnapping or violence against U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is high,” the State Department said. “We have no further details to share at this time.”
The nonprofit has operated in Afghanistan for nearly 60 years and is a Christian-based organization working to improve healthcare, education, and community development.