Straining to keep tears from running down his cheeks, John Mercer told reporters of his desperate plea with the Taliban. "I offered to go in place of my daughter," he said. "It was a very serious offer. I would do it." But the Taliban didn't even respond to his request to stand in for his 24-year-old daughter, Heather. She and Dayna Curry, 24, are the two Americans who, with six other Westerners, are being detained by the Taliban on charges of promoting Christianity. Shortly before the terrorist attacks on the United States, the aid workers had picked Atif Ali Khan, a Pakistani lawyer specializing in Islamic Shari'ah law and human rights law, to defend them. But the Taliban won't issue Khan a visa, and he says he's not getting much help from American diplomats. "Especially after the [U.S. and other] diplomats left Kabul, I feel these people have been left alone," he tells the Los Angeles Times. He thinks the aid workers "are being sacrificed." The U.S. State Department has confirmed that the American government and Taliban are no longer talking about the case. "It was already a cloudy situation," The Washington Post quotes an unnamed department official saying. "Everybody is out of Kabul right now. There is no communication."
But John Finkelde, the pastor of two Australians also being held, says the Shelter Now workers have not been forgotten. "I think the circumstances of the last week have captured everyone's imagination but certainly their family and friends haven't forgotten them," he tells Reuters. Finkelde also reports that diplomats were able to make contact with the Christians as recently as Friday. "The word we have had back a number of times is that they're doing well," he ...1