Fam­ily held cap­tive by ter­ror­ist group re­leased

Amer­i­can woman, Cana­dian hus­band have 3 chil­dren.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Jill Colvin, Lolita C. Bal­dor and Mu­nir Ahmed

WASH­ING­TON— An Amer­i­can woman, her Cana­dian hus­band and their three young chil­dren have been re­leased af­ter years held cap­tive by a group that has ties to the Tal­iban and is con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by the United States, U.S. and Pak­istani of­fi­cials said Thurs­day.

U.S. of­fi­cials said Pak­istan se­cured the re­lease of Cait­lan Cole­man of Ste­wart­stown, Penn­syl­va­nia, and her hus­band, Cana­dian Joshua Boyle, who were ab­ducted five years ago while trav­el­ing in Afghanistan and then were held by the Haqqani net­work.

Cole­man was preg­nant when she was cap­tured. The cou­ple had three chil­dren while in cap­tiv­ity, and all have been freed, U.S. of­fi­cials said.

“To­day they are free,” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said in a state­ment, cred­it­ing the U.S. gov­ern­ment with se­cur­ing the re­lease “work­ing in con­junc­tion with the Gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan.”

Trump later praised Pak­istan for its will­ing­ness to “do more to pro­vide se­cu­rity in the re­gion” and said the re­lease sug­gests other “coun­tries are start­ing to re­spect the United States of Amer­ica once again.”

The Pak­istani mil­i­tary said the fam­ily had been freed in “an in­tel­li­gence-based op­er­a­tion by Pak­istan troops” af­ter they’d crossed the bor­der from Afghanistan and were “be­ing repa­tri­ated to the coun­try of their ori­gin.”

But as of Thurs­day mid­day, the fam­ily’s pre­cise where­abouts were un­clear, and it was not im­me­di­ately known when they would re­turn to North Amer­ica. The fam­ily was not in U.S. cus­tody, though they were to­gether in a safe, undis­closed lo­ca­tion in Pak­istan, ac­cord­ing to a U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cial.

U.S. of­fi­cials had planned on mov­ing the fam­ily out of Pak­istan on a U.S. trans­port plane, but at the last minute Boyle would not get on, the of­fi­cial said.

An­other U.S. of­fi­cial said Boyle was ner­vous about be­ing in “cus­tody” given his back­ground.

Boyle was once mar­ried to Zaynab Khadr, the older sis­ter of for­mer Guan­tanamo Bay de­tainee Omar Khadr and the daugh­ter of a late se­nior al-Qaida fi­nancier. Her fa­ther, Ahmed Said Khadr, and the fam­ily stayed with Osama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy.

The Cana­dian-born Omar Khadr was 15 when he was cap­tured by U.S. troops fol­low­ing a fire­fight at a sus­pected al-Qaida com­pound. He was taken to Guan­tanamo and ul­ti­mately charged with war crimes by a mil­i­tary com­mis­sion. He pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that in­cluded mur­der and was sen­tenced to eight years plus the time he had al­ready spent in cus­tody.

Sev­eral years ago, Zaynab Khadr and her mother also up­set many Cana­di­ans by ex­press­ing pro-al-Qaida views.

Of­fi­cials had dis­counted any link be­tween that back­ground and Boyle’s cap­ture, with one of­fi­cial de­scrib­ing it in 2014 as a “hor­ri­ble co­in­ci­dence.”

The cou­ple has told U.S. of­fi­cials they wanted to fly com­mer­cially to Canada, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial.

The Toronto Star re­ported that Boyle spoke to his par­ents af­ter his re­lease and told them he’d been in the trunk of the kid­nap­pers’ car with his wife and chil­dren when Pak­istani forces rescued them. He told the pa­per there had been a shoot-out and that the last words he heard from the kid­nap­pers were, “kill the hostages.”

“Josh said he was do­ing pretty well for some­one who has spent the last five years in an un­der­ground prison,” his fa­ther, Pa­trick, told the pa­per.

The cou­ple also recorded a video, in which they re­counted their first con­ver­sa­tion with their son in five years.

“We got to hear his voice. It was amaz­ing. He told us how much his chil­dren were look­ing for­ward meet­ing their grand­par­ents,” his mother, Linda Boyle, said.

Cole­man’s par­ents, Jim and Lyn Cole­man, mean­while, posted a state­ment on the door of their Penn­syl­va­nia home say­ing they ap­pre­ci­ated “all the in­ter­est and con­cern be­ing ex­pressed at the joy­ful news that Caity, Josh and our grand­chil­dren have been re­leased af­ter five long years of cap­tiv­ity.”

The re­lease came to­gether rapidly Wed­nes­day. It hap­pened nearly five years to the day af­ter Cole­man and Boyle lost touch with their fam­i­lies while trav­el­ing in a moun­tain­ous re­gion near the Afghan cap­i­tal of Kabul.

The cou­ple set off in the sum­mer 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 last heard from their son-in-law on Oct. 8, 2012, from an in­ter­net cafe in what Boyle de­scribed as an “un­safe” part of Afghanistan.

The only trace of the cou­ple since has been in the form of videos re­leased by their cap­tors and fam­ily let­ters.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Cait­lan Cole­man and her hus­band, Joshua Boyle, seen in an im­age taken from a 2013 video, have been re­leased af­ter five years in cap­tiv­ity. The cou­ple had been ab­ducted while trav­el­ing in Afghanistan.

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