Taliban forces are targeting prisons across Afghanistan that hold some 5,000 of their fighters amid an offensive to take back control of the country.
Central prisons in provincial capitals throughout the country are high value targets for jihadist militants, who are waging an offensive against dwindling Afghan security forces as American troops withdraw from the country. According to the Washington Post, Afghan government and military officials are voicing concern about the security of prisons and their ability to defend them from the Taliban.
"This is a big problem," a senior security official in Kabul said about prison security. "Hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted."
Afghan officials are scrambling to keep the most dangerous imprisoned Taliban fighters detained. The government transferred 200 to 300 militants imprisoned across the country to a prison in Kabul, where the government's control is more secure.
The bid to seize Afghan prisons comes as the Taliban surge in strength. President Joe Biden admitted the terrorist group has returned to levels of military strength not seen since 2001, as the group controls more than half of the districts in Afghanistan. Another 116 districts remain contested and could fall in the coming weeks, with experts predicting that the Afghan government could collapse within six months of the United States' withdrawal.
Instability in Afghanistan has also put an American citizen at risk. The Washington Free Beacon reported in July that the Biden administration risks leaving Navy veteran and civilian contractor Mark Frerichs behind in the country as troops pull out. Taliban fighters kidnapped Frerichs in January 2020, and experts say American leverage in negotiations decreases daily as the terrorists grow in strength.