Kidnapped Canadian-American family rescued from Taliban after 5 years
By: Murissa Barrington
A Canadian family kidnapped by Afghan terrorists have finally been released after five long years in captivity.
Joshua Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman and their three children were retrieved from “terrorist custody” Wednesday in an intelligence operation executed by Pakistani troops and the U.S. military.
Boyle’s parents Linda and Patrick J. Boyle, made an on-camera announcement that they are grateful for the family’s rescue and that they would see their son in a “few days.”
On Thursday, the Pakistani government released a statement on the rescue that saw the Boyle family successfully transferred across the Kurram Agency Border.
“The operation by Pakistani forces, based on actionable intelligence from US authorities was successful. All hostages were recovered safe and sound and are being repatriated to the country of their origin.”
The Canadian government hasn’t confirmed whether they were directly involved with the rescue of Boyle. In a statement, Global Affairs Canada thanked the U.S. and Pakistan governments for their efforts.
Foreign Affairs minister Chrystia Freeland expressed relief that Boyle and his family had been rescued.
“Joshua, Caitlan, their children and the Boyle and Coleman families have endured a horrible ordeal over the past five years. We stand ready to support them as they begin their healing journey,” said Freeland.
U.S. President Donald Trump also released a statement about the Boyle-Coleman family rescue and said it is, “a positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan.”
In the summer of 2012, newlyweds Boyle and a pregnant Coleman set off on a backpacking trip across central Asia.
The plan was for the pair to return in December, just in time for Coleman to give birth but they never returned.
Boyle and Coleman then crossed the Afghan border in October 2012 where they were kidnapped by the Haqqani Network and held hostage in an underground prison.
The Haqqani Network is an Afghan insurgent group that is closely linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. According to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center website, the Haqqani network is considered the “most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group targeting US, Coalition, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.”
In 2013, Boyle and Coleman made their first appearance since being kidnapped in a pair of videos asking the U.S. government to free them from the Taliban.
In a video posted online in June 2017, Boyle alongside a sullen Coleman and two of their three children made yet another plea for freedom.
“I can only ask that you please quickly try to resolve this for our sake and for the sake of our children, and we can talk about compensation later,” Boyle says to the camera explaining that the terrorists refuse to free them until their needs are met.
Coleman then appears to read from a statement as she addresses president Donald Trump directly:
“They want money, power, friends. You must give them these things before progress can be made. A five-year hostage taking is too long, and indicates failure on every side.”
In the past, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken out against the government paying any ransoms in exchange for releasing hostages from terrorists. Trudeau says doing so will only financially support the illicit activities of these groups and encourage more kidnappings.
Boyle’s parents say the Haqqani Network have never asked them for a ransom and that instead, the Haqqani sent demands to the Canadian and U.S. government.
Prior to his 2012 kidnapping Boyle was known to have an interest in studying terrorism and counterterrorism.
The University of Waterloo grad was quoted in a 2009 Globe and Mail article that he had authored the majority of content on Wikipedia about terrorism.
Described as a “humanitarian” and a “hippie” by friends, Boyle’s fascination with terrorism and justice would lead him to connect with the Khadr family.
Omar Khadr is the Canadian child soldier who was detained for 10 years in Guantanamo Bay for allegedly throwing a grenade during a war fight that struck and killed a U.S. army medic.
While supporting the Khadr family in their fight for Omar’s release, Boyle developed a relationship with Omar’s controversial sister Zaynab Khadr.
Boyle and Zaynab wed in 2009 and divorced in 2010 when Boyle reportedly moved to New Brunswick and eventually married Coleman in 2011.
In previous reports, U.S. officials have said that there is no connection between the families kidnapping and Boyle’s prior marriage to Khadr.
Global Affairs Canada is asking that the families’ privacy be respected.