UM alum released from Taliban custody after three years of captivity

Kevin King, a 63-year-old graduate of the University of Miami, was one of two professors kidnapped by the Taliban in 2016. After being held hostage for three years, he was released Tuesday, Nov. 19, in exchange for three high-level Taliban militants. Afghan officials said the deal was brokered in hopes of ending the 18-year Afghan war with the Taliban.

King and Australian Timothy Weeks, 50, were English professors at the American University of Afghanistan. In 2016, a team of gunmen ambushed the professors while they were leaving campus in the capital city of Kabul. It was not originally clear who kidnapped the professors, as the Afghan government first reported that the gunmen were members of a “criminal gang.”

“The AUAF community shares the relief of the families of Kevin and Timothy, and we look forward to providing all the support we can to Kevin and Tim and their families,” AUAF said in a statement. “We wish to extend our gratitude to all involved in the release of our colleagues.

During the course of their captivity, the militant group released two “sign of life” videos of King and Weeks that featured both men asking their governments to negotiate for their release. In the second video, which was released in 2017, members of the Taliban said King’s health was deteriorating quickly as he suffered from serious heart and kidney problems. The United States attempted two rescue missions, both of which failed.

King attended UM during the late 1970s, where he majored in communications and worked as the entertainment editor for The Miami Hurricane. Thereafter, King taught all around the world, including countries such as Cambodia, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is widely believed that King was the Taliban’s last American hostage. The three fighters released in exchange for King’s freedom include Mali Khan, Hafiz Rashid and Anas Haqqani, members of the highly militant Haqqani network within the Taliban.

Officials have yet to comment on King’s current condition, but he is currently receiving medical care before being reunited with his family.