US-Canadian family, held captive for 5 years by terror group, freed
WASHINGTON » Five years after they were seized by a terrorist network in the mountains of Afghanistan, an American woman, her Canadian husband and their children — all three born in captivity — are free after a dramatic rescue orchestrated by the U. S. and Pakistani governments, officials said Thursday.
The U. S. said Pakistan accomplished the release of Caitlan Coleman of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, and her husband, Canadian Joshua Boyle, who were abducted and held by the Haqqani network, which has ties to the Taliban and is considered a ter- rorist organization by the United States. The operation, which came after years of U.S. pressure on Pakistan for assistance, unfolded quickly in what some said was a shootout and a dangerous raid. U. S. officials did not confirm the details.
“Today they are free,” President Donald Trump said in a statement, crediting the U.S.-Pakistani partnership for securing the release. Trump later praised Pakistan for its willingness to “domore 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 couple were kidnapped in October 2012 while on a backpack trip into Russia, the countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, then to Afghanistan. Coleman was several months pregnant at the time, “naive,” but also “adventuresome” with a humanitarian bent, her father James said in 2012.
The Pakistani military said Thursday the family was “being repatriated to the country of their origin.” By evening, it was not known when they would return to North America. They were together in a safe, undisclosed site in Pakistan, said a U. S. national security official not authorized to discuss the case publicly and speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Pakistani military said the family had been freed in “an intelligencebased operation by Paki- stan troops” after they’d crossed the border from Afghanistan.
Boyle and the High Commissioner for Pakistan to Canada described a scene with gunshots ringing out as Boyle, his wife and children were intercepted by Pakistani forces while being transported in the trunk of their captors’ car. Boyle told his parents there was a shoot- out in which some of his captors were killed.
Boyle was once married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior al- Qaida financier. Her father, the late Ahmed Said Khadr, and the family stayed with Osama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy.