All three children were born in captivity
the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction. Coleman, who had been pregnant when she was abducted, gave birth to all three of her children in captivity. Boyle suffered minor shrapnel wounds in the raid, his family said.
In dramatic videos released last year by her captors, Coleman, who is from south-central Pennsylvania, had pleaded for her life. In footage depicting two of her children, one with a pacifier, Coleman described her time asahostageas“Kafkaesque”and said she had been “defiled.” She urged the U.S. government to “help stop this depravity.”
President Trump praised the Pakistanis for their role in freeing the family. “This is a positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan,” 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.”
The family was at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad late Thursday, Tariq Azim Khan, a Pakistani diplomat, said in a telephone interview from London. The Pakistani military pledged to repatriate them, and U.S. officials were exploring how to get the family out of South Asia. Boyle’s relatives said they expected him to return home in the coming days.
“Josh indicated that they’d like to come back to Canada,” his mother, Linda, said outside the family’s stone house in Smiths Falls, Ont., about an hour southwest of Ottawa. “That was their plan right now.”
The return trip was complicated by Boyle’s refusal to board an American C-130 transport plane to take the family out of Pakistan and to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where Americans have been accused of abusing detainees. His father said Boyle was philosophically opposed to traveling to the base.
After marrying in 2011, Coleman and Boyle spent months traveling in Central America before leaving for a trip through Russia and Central Asia. They had planned to leave Afghanistan in late 2012 because of Coleman’s pregnancy. But they were kidnapped in October of that year while backpacking in Wardak province, a militant stronghold near Kabul.
In exchange for the family’s freedom, the Haqqani network had previously demanded the release of Anas Haqqani, one of its commanders. The Afghan government captured Haqqani in 2014, and he was sentenced to death. The militant group had threatened to kill the family if he was executed.
Earlier attempts to bring the family home fell short. The Obama administration sought to jump-start talks with the Taliban but those efforts faltered after the U.S. military killed Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the Taliban’s leader, in a drone strike in May 2016.
Coleman’s pregnancies added pressure to resolve an already desperate situation, one in which the Haqqanis had repeatedly threatened to kill the family, including the children.
“The likelihood of a successful rescue was pretty much discounted in our minds,” said Patrick Boyle, father of Joshua Boyle.
The plight of the family attracted widespread attention in Canada, although not all of it sympathetic. Deeply interested in Islam and terrorism, Boyle was previously married to the oldest sister of Omar Khadr, a Canadian captured by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was 15 and held for a decade at the wartime prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was repatriated in 2012.
Boyle volunteered as a spokesman for Khadr’s relatives, who did little to endear themselves to the Canadian public and domestic security services, according to Canadian media reports. Khadr’s father was killed in 2003 by Pakistani forces near the Afghan border.
The end of the family’s captivity was a victory for State Department officials and the FBIled Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, which had worked on the case for years.