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Canadian-American family freed after five years as captives in Afghanistan

Posted by on Oct. 12, 2017 at 2:24 PM
  • 51 Replies

Canadian-American family freed after five years as captives in Afghanistan

  • Caitlan Coleman, Joshua Boyle and three children held by Taliban-linked group
  • Couple abducted in Afghanistan and had children in captivity

A still image from a video posted by the Taliban on social media on 19 December 2016 shows American Caitlan Coleman, left, speaking next to her husband Joshua Boyle and their two sons.

Nearly five years to the day after they were captured by militants linked to the Taliban, an American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children – all of whom were born in captivity – have been rescued, bringing an end to an ordeal the couple described as “Kafkaesque nightmare.”

Pakistani troops, operating on intelligence provided by the United States, rescued Caitlan Coleman, her husband Joshua Boyle and their children, after locating them in the mountainous Kurram Valley region that borders Afghanistan.

“Today they are free,” Donald Trump said on Thursday in a statement confirming their release.

The couple were kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2012 and were believed to be held by the Haqqani network, a group deemed a terrorist organisation by the US.

Boyle’s family said they had received a call from their son early on Thursday morning, describing it as the first time in five years they had been able to speak to their son.

“Josh said he was doing pretty well for someone who has spent the last five years in an underground prison,” Patrick Boyle told the Toronto Star. His son also told him that he and Coleman had had a third baby – a girl – who had been born two months earlier.

Boyle told his father that the rescue operation had taken place while the family were locked in the trunk of a car. The last words Boyle heard were “kill the hostages” before a shootout erupted.

The five kidnappers were shot dead, and Boyle was injured by shrapnel, his father told the Star. The family are in Pakistan and are preparing to return to North America in the coming days.

The Colemans said the FBI had notified the family of the rescue. “The US government called us Wednesday afternoon,” Jim Coleman told ABC News. “They told me to sit down and then they told me what had happened. All they told me was that they were in ‘friendly hands’.”

Lyn Coleman, Caitlan’s mother, said: “I am in a state of euphoria, stunned and overjoyed. Caity and her family’s nightmare is finally over.”

The Pakistani military said US intelligence officials had been tracking the family’s location and had alerted Pakistan after the couple were moved into the Kurram Valley region, a tribal area that borders Afghanistan. “All hostages were recovered safe and sound and are being repatriated to the country of their origin,” the military added.

A senior intelligence official in Islamabad told the Guardian that the Haqqani network had demanded a ransom of 15 million rupees and the release of captives from Afghanistan in exchange for the family’s release. The source said the ransom was not paid. It was unclear whether any other concessions were made.

The rescue comes 10 months after the couple’s captors released a video, showing Boyle, now 34, Coleman, 31, and their two children, pleading with their governments to negotiate with their captors.

“We can only ask and pray that somebody will recognize the atrocities these men carry out against us as so-called retaliation, in their ingratitude and hypocrisy,” Coleman told the camera, appearing to read from prepared remarks. “My children have seen their mother defiled.”

She described their years-long ordeal as “the Kafkaesque nightmare in which we find ourselves”.

The couple – who met as teenagers online and bonded over their love of Star Wars fan sites – were abducted in 2012 during a backpacking trip that began in Russia and took them through Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan before their arrival in northern Afghanistan. Coleman, from Pennsylvania, was pregnant with their first child at the time.

Coleman’s parents said they had last heard from their son-in-law in 2012, after he contacted them from an internet cafe in what he described as an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan.

In 2013, the couple appeared in two videos pleading with the US government to free them from the Taliban. Coleman’s parents later told reporters they had received a letter in which their daughter said she had given birth to a second child in captivity.

A letter sent to Boyle’s parents and shared with the Toronto Star last year detailed the lengths the couple had gone to to deliver the child; hiding the pregnancy from captors until Boyle delivered the child in darkness, guided only by a flashlight clenched between his teeth.

“The astonished captors were good and brought all our post-partum needs, so he is now fat and healthy, praise God,” Boyle wrote in the letter to his parents. “We are trying to keep spirits high for the children and play Beautiful Life,” he added, believed to be a reference to Life is Beautiful, the Italian film in which a father shields his son from the realities of a Nazi concentration camp by pretending they are in a game.

In the years prior to his capture, Boyle, from Ontario, was a familiar figure to reporters in Canada. He had been married to Zaynab Khadr, the sister of Omar Khadr, the Canadian held for 10 years held at Guantánamo Bay after being captured as a teenager during a firefight at an al-Qaida compound in Afghanistan.

Boyle soon became a spokesperson of sorts for the Khadr family, helping Zaynab in her push to raise awareness of her brother’s case. In a 2009 interview, Boyle detailed his fascination with terrorism, counter-terrorism and security. “Anything related to terrorism on Wikipedia, I wrote, pretty much,” he told the Globe and Mail. His marriage to Khadr lasted about a year.

On Thursday, Trump heralded the rescue as a “positive moment” for the relationship between US and Pakistan “The Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wish that it do more to provide security in the region,” Trump said at a White House event. “They worked very hard on this and I believe they are starting to respect the United States again.”

A day earlier, Trump had hinted at an imminent rescue. “America is being respected again,” he told an audience in Pennsylvania. “Something happened today where a country that totally disrespected us called with some very, very important news. And one of my generals came in, they said, you know, I have to tell you, a year ago they would have never done that. It was a great sign of respect. You’ll probably be hearing about it over the next few days.”

US officials have long accused Pakistan’s military and intelligence services of providing cover for militants; they have also criticised them for not doing enough to crack down on the Haqqani network, believed to be responsible for several attacks against the US and allied forces in Afghanistan.

News of the rescue broke on the same day that a US delegation – including senior officials from the state and defense departments – travelled to Islamabad to meet with Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Canada said it had also been actively engaged with the governments of the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan and thanked them for their efforts in securing the family’s release on Thursday.

“We are greatly relieved that after being held hostage for five years, Joshua Boyle and his wife Caitlan Coleman, as well as their young children, have been released and are safe,” the country’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said. “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.”

by on Oct. 12, 2017 at 2:24 PM
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by Emerald Member on Oct. 12, 2017 at 2:29 PM

5 years of indoctrination and radicalization?

Anyone else thinking about Homeland?

by Emerald Member on Oct. 12, 2017 at 2:32 PM

OH LOOK! Josh Boyle and prior connection to Jihadis! Actually the brother-in-law of a Terrorist!

LEAVE HIM THERE! And his current wife and kids too.

Boyle had a long-standing interest in Islamic terrorism, stating in 2009 that “anything related to terrorism on Wikipedia, I wrote, pretty much.” He took an interest in the Gitmo detainee, Omar Khadr and married Omar's sister Zaynab Khadr in 2009 becoming her third husband. At the time Boyle was believed by co-workers to be, or perhaps converting to become, Muslim taking prayer breaks at work at appropriate times.[12] Boyle first received press coverage in 2009 after an attack on his father's home. During his marriage to Zaynab, Boyle's parents' Ottawa house was fired upon and ransacked by an intruder but no valuable were taken. Boyle believed it was related to his marriage to "a woman who had ties to Osama bin Laden."[13][9][14]

by Emerald Member on Oct. 12, 2017 at 2:38 PM

Getting deeper.....

Caitlan Coleman family refuses return to US as husband fears arrest, officials say

The daring plan to bring home an American woman and her family from Afghanistan, where they were held captive by a Taliban-affiliated group, appeared to hit a snag Thursday, with officials telling Fox News the woman's husband is refusing to board a plane out of the Middle East.

Caitlan Coleman, 32, was seven months pregnant when she and her husband, Josh Boyle, were abducted in Afghanistan in 2012 by the Haqqani network. The couple and their three children -- all of whom were born in captivity -- were freed Thursday in a "negotiated release," an official told Fox News.

But Boyle is refusing to board an American military plane in Pakistan waiting to take them home, fearing he'll be arrested, a U.S. official said.

The family has "been essentially living in a hole for 5 years," White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told reporters Thursday.

Boyle was previously married to the sister of Omar Khadr, a Canadian man who spent 10 years at Guantanamo Bay after being captured in 2002 in a firefight at an Al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan.

The Canadian-born Khadr was 15 in 2002 when he tossed a grenade in a firefight that killedU.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, a special forces medic.

One U.S. official told The Associated Press that Boyle was nervous about being in "custody" given his background.

Other officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle's capture by the Haqqani network, with one describing it to The Associated Press in 2014 as a "horrible coincidence."

The family was still in Pakistan Thursday afternoon and details of their departure are being worked out, a source told Fox News.

“Please don’t become the next Jimmy Carter”

- Caitlan Coleman in a 2016 plea to former U.S. President Barack Obama

The Pakistani military confirmed the release and said the family was "being repatriated to the country of their origin."

The couple has told U.S. officials that they wanted to fly commercially to Canada, according to an official who spoke to The Associated Press.

The operation that set Coleman, Boyle and their children free remains somewhat mysterious. Pakistan's armed forces said in a statement an operation was undertaken by Pakistani forces based on actionable intelligence provided by U.S. authorities. U.S. intelligence agencies had reportedly been tracking the hostages and shared the location with Pakistani counterparts when the hostages shifted into Pakistani territory Wednesday.

But a source told Fox News that U.S. officials had been working on the release for a long time and had been placing pressure on the Pakistani government -- the Haqqani network has ties to Pakistan's intelligence services. The U.S., however, did not pay for the hostage release and no other hostages were released in a quid-pro-quo, sources said.

"Today they are free. This is a positive moment for our country's relationship with Pakistan," President Trump said in a statement Thursday. "The Pakistani government's cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America's wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region."

It is believed the family's captors are holding two other American hostages: Kevin King, a university professor who taught in Kabul and was captured in August 2016, and Paul Overby, a Massachusetts writer, who vanished in May 2014, the source said.

Trump appeared to hint at the news of Coleman's release during a speech in her home state of Pennsylvania a day earlier.

"Something happened today, where a country that totally disrespected us called with some very, very important news," Trump said Wednesday. "And one of my generals came in. They said, 'You know, I have to tell you, a year ago they would've never done that.' It was a great sign of respect. You'll probably be hearing about it over the next few days. But this is a country that did not respect us. This is a country that respects us now. The world is starting to respect us again, believe me."

Coleman and Boyle were last seen in a hostage video in December 2016 pleading for their governments to intervene.

The two vanished after setting off in the summer of 2012 for a journey that took them to Russia, the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan.

Coleman's parents, Jim and Lyn Coleman, had previously last heard from their son-in-law on Oct. 8, 2012, from an Internet cafe in what Josh described as an "unsafe" part of Afghanistan.

The news of the release comes a month after President Trump announced a new strategy to deal with Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying the Taliban and other militant groups would no longer find safe haven in Pakistan.

Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford told Congress last week Pakistan would no longer be a sanctuary for terrorism.

"I applaud the innumerable lines of effort from across the U.S. government," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday in reaction to the family's release.

In the 2016 YouTube video, Coleman refers to "the Kafkaesque nightmare in which we find ourselves" and urges "governments on both sides" to reach a deal for their freedom. She then adds: "My children have seen their mother defiled."

Two young children appear in the video with them, and Coleman has told her family that she gave birth to two children in captivity. It was revealed Thursday that Coleman had a third child.

“Please don’t become the next Jimmy Carter,” Coleman said in the 2016 video, reading a prepared statement and making a plea to former President Barack Obama. “Just give the offenders something so they and you can save face so we can leave the region permanently.”

The Haqqani network has orchestrated a vast array of brutal attacks in Afghanistan in recent years, against both locals and the U.S. military, but unlike their Taliban associates, they are deemed to be more motivated by money than faith.

In that interview with Circa News in 2016, Jim Coleman issued a plea to top Taliban commanders to be "kind and merciful" and let the couple go.

Fox News’  Jennifer Griffin, Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

by Firestarter on Oct. 12, 2017 at 2:38 PM
I was about to say Stockholm Syndrome, but.... no.
by Emerald Member on Oct. 12, 2017 at 2:44 PM

Caitlan Coleman & Joshua Boyle: 5 Facts You Need to Know

Caitlan Coleman, an American citizen abducted in Afghanistan with her Canadian husband in 2012, has been freed.

Coleman, Joshua Jones and their three children, all born while in captivity, were being held by the Haqqani terrorist network, which has ties to the Taliban. They have all been released, according to President Donald Trump.

Trump released a statement on Thursday and praised the Pakistani government for helping to facilitate the family’s release.

“This is a positive movement for our country’s relationship with Pakistan,” Trump said. “The Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.”

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Coleman & Boyle Lost Contact With Relatives in 2012 During a Trip to Afghanistan

The Associated Press reported that the couple had been communicating with relatives, but all contact abruptly stopped in October 2012 after Boyle emailed home from an Internet cafe in what he called an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan. The last withdrawal from the couple’s bank account was made on October 9, 2012, in Kabul, according to the AP.

Two months later, an Afghan official said the couple had been abducted in Wardak province, just south of Kabul.

Coleman’s parents released the video above in December 2012, pleading for their daughter’s return and saying that she was in serious need of medical attention because of a liver problem. She was also pregnant with her first child.

2. A Man Claiming To Have Taliban Connections Sent a Video to Coleman’s Father

Joshua Boyle, Caitlan Coleman, Taliban, video released

The Associated Press published a video of the couple pleading for the U.S. government to rescue them. The video was emailed to Coleman’s father from a person claiming to have ties to the Taliban.

The video includes Boyle asking the American and Canadian governments “do what is necessary to bring our family together to safety and freedom.”

3. The Couple Was Captured By the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan

The U.S. government said Thursday that Coleman and her husband were held all these years by the Haqqani network, which has ties to both the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorist organizations.

The Haqqani network was formed in Afghanistan in the 1970s and grew its influence during the war with the Soviet Union in the 1980s. By the time the United States military entered Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Haqqani was largely operating in Pakistan, but began fighting U.S. and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.

Boyle’s ex-wife is the sister of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen captured by U.S. forces in 2002 when he was only 15 and imprisoned for 10 years at Guantanamo Bay after being involved in a firefight with U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

4. The Couple’s Relatives Described Them as ‘Naive’ Adventure Seekers

Relatives described the couple to the Associated Press as “well-intentioned but naive adventure-seekers.”

The AP reports:

They once spent months traveling through Latin America, where they lived among indigenous Guatemalans and where Boyle grew a long beard that led some children to call him “Santa Claus.” The couple set off again in the summer of 2012 for a journey that took them to Russia, the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan.

Boyle’s dad Patrick, who was a judge in Canada, told the AP the two made a foolish mistake by going into Afghanistan, but that their safety should be treated with the same urgency as that of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured after abandoning his post in Afghanistan in 2009. Bergdahl was released in 2014 in a prisoner swap with the Taliban.

“It would be no more appropriate to have our government turn their backs on their citizens than to turn their backs on those who serve,” Patrick Boyle said at the time.

5. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Praised Diplomatic Efforts To Secure the Couple’s Release

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said diplomatic efforts were key to securing the family’s release, especially the role that Pakistan played to help broker the deal.

In a statement on Thursday, Tillerson singled out David Hale, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.

“I applaud the innumerable lines of effort from across the U.S. government. I’m particularly proud of Ambassador Hale and his Mission Islamabad team for their engagement with Pakistan. These efforts reflect the best of what America can accomplish,” Tillerson said.

“The United States also expresses our deep gratitude to the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Army for their cooperation. President Trump’s new South Asia strategy recognizes the important role Pakistan needs to play to bring stability and ultimately peace to the region. The United States is hopeful that Pakistan’s actions will further a U.S.-Pakistan relationship marked by growing commitments to counterterrorism operations and stronger ties in all other respects.”

Hale was appointed to his post in 2015 under the Obama administration. He has also served as ambassador to Lebanon and Jordan.

by Emerald Member on Oct. 12, 2017 at 2:47 PM

Canadian held in Afghanistan: Who is Joshua Boyle?

UPDATE: Joshua Boyle, his wife and their three children have since been rescued

READ MORE: Canadian man, family released after held by Taliban-linked group for 5 years

The families of a Canadian man and his American wife, who have been held captive in Afghanistan since 2012, have made a public plea to their respective governments to help secure the release of the couple.

oshua Boyle and his wife Caitlan Coleman were last heard from in October of that year.

The pair had been travelling in Central Asia for a number of months before going missing, reportedly in the Wardak province — a mountainous region just 40 kilometres from Kabul that is a known haven for the Taliban.

The Associated Press reported Boyle, 29, and Coleman planned to come back from their travels in December of that year, about two months after they last contacted family, in time for Coleman to give birth.

Boyle’s father Patrick J. Boyle*, a Tax Court of Canada judge, told AP his grandchild was “born in captivity.”

Boyle met Coleman, from Pennsylvania, online and married her in 2011.

Coleman’s father, James Coleman, told AP in 2012 it was possible the couple may not have realized how dangerous an area they were heading to.

“They’re both kind of naive, always have been in my view. Why they actually went to Afghanistan, I’m not sure… I assume it was more of the same, getting to know the local people, if they could find an NGO (non-governmental organization) or someone they could work with in a little way,” he told AP.

But, Boyle’s interest in the region and his connections to it go deeper than adventure seeking with his wife.

Boyle had a fascination with terrorism, Canadian counterterrorism and security.

“Anything related to terrorism on Wikipedia, I wrote, pretty much,” the University of Waterloo graduate told the Globe and Mail in May 2009.

He also had an interest in the family of Omar Khadr — the Canadian who was captured in Afghanistan and detained at Guantanamo Bay from 2002, when he was just 15, until he was returned to Canada in 2012.

That interview happened after he married Omar Khadr’s oldest sister, Zaynab Khadr, a prominent and outspoken figure herself.

So out spoken that, in a 2009 profile, Maclean’s reported her younger brother’s lawyers “repeatedly begged her to keep quiet.”

In that same article it was noted Boyle was Khadr’s third husband, but it was the first of her marriages that was not arranged by her late father, Ahmed Said Khadr, who was killed in a 2003 shootout with Pakistani forces near the border with Afghanistan.

One of her marriages was attended by Osama bin Laden, according to Khadr herself.

They met on the Internet: he emailed her in 2008 and “to introduce himself and offer support,” according to the 2009 Globe and Mail article.

The Globe and Mail reported he attended the hearings of one of her other brothers — Abdullah, who was facing extradition to the U.S. on terrorism charges, but was later ordered free by an Ontario judge.

Boyle reportedly played a role in organizing his Khadr’s 2008 hunger strike on Parliament Hill, to protest her brother’s detention.

They got married in January 2009 and lived together in Toronto, along with her daughter from her second marriage.

Boyle said his parents, both fundamentalist Christians who live in Ottawa, supported his relationship with Khadr.

“My family is supportive of my marriage and of their extended family, and they believe in the need for justice for all Canadian citizens. We have faith in God and we have faith in justice and we have faith in the Canadian people to do the right thing,” he told Maclean’s.

In the Associated Press article published Wednesday, U.S. officials dismissed his marriage to Khadr as having any sort of connection to his and Coleman’s abduction.

One official called it a “horrible coincidence,” according to AP.

Boyle didn’t speak much of his history with the Khadr family after he moved to Perth-Andover, N.B, where he and Coleman lived until they took off travelling in 2012, according to the Victoria Star.

He moved to the western N.B. community in 2010 after he divorced Khadr and took a job at the now-shuttered Thing5 call centre.

Terry Ritchie, the mayor of Perth-Andover, wrote in a 2013 Facebook postBoyle’s “co-workers here knew he had converted or was converting to Islam.

“He was given special breaks from his job as a customer service representative to pray at appropriate times, co-workers say,” the post from Ritchie read.

Global News reached out to Ritchie for a comment, but he did not respond.

Ritchie told the Victoria Star, in April 2013, Boyle never spoke of plans to go to Afghanistan, but did discuss going to places that had bad reputations.

“He said they were interesting (places), that the dangers are exaggerated and he can do good there. He did work with humanitarian organizations,” he said.

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported Boyle’s father as Patrick C. Boyle. His name is Patrick J. Boyle.

by Emerald Member on Oct. 12, 2017 at 2:54 PM
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The AP calls it a "horrible coincidence" that a converted Muslim, the husband of a woman whose family was close friend's with Osama Bin Laden, the brother-in-law of a terrorist who spent 10 years in Guantanamo for fighting Americans with The Taliban, who was "obsessed with Islamic Terrorism" and had sympathy for jihad took a "naive" trip to the middle east and was "captured". Now is "rescued" and to be released back into the land of the infidels.

Image result for seems legit

by Silver Member on Oct. 12, 2017 at 3:11 PM
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THe whole thing sounds rather sketchy.  I bet you dollars to donuts this family will be under intense surveillance for quite some time.

by Emerald Member on Oct. 12, 2017 at 3:12 PM

Joshua Boyle's first wife:

The Khadr family (أسرة خضر) is an Arab family based in Canada and noted for their terrorism, ties to Osama bin Laden and connections to al Qaeda.[1][2]

Zaynab Khadr

Interesting life here. Can't C&P.

by Emerald Member on Oct. 12, 2017 at 3:15 PM
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Who hikes his 7-month pregnant wife into terrorist occupied Afghanistan and why?

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