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Joshua Boyle and his family in captivity
Photo: AFP / SITE Intelligence Group
Canadian says child killed, US wife raped during Afghan kidnapping
Canadian-American family returns from five years in Pakistani captivity; couple touched down in Toronto with three surviving children, one killed in captivity; wife was repeatedly raped by Haqqani network captors, husband says.
Joshua Boyle, patriarch of the American-Canadian family released earlier this week with their children after five years in captivity in Pakistan, recounted Saturday their harrowing experiences at the hands of their captors, the Haqqani network, saying their infant daughter was murdered and his wife raped.

 

 

Boyle gave the statement shortly after landing in Canada with his wife, Caitlan Coleman, and three young children.

 

Joshua Boyle and his family were held in captivity for five years (Photo: AFP / SITE Intelligence Group)
Joshua Boyle and his family were held in captivity for five years (Photo: AFP / SITE Intelligence Group)

 

The couple was rescued Wednesday, five years after they had been abducted by the Taliban-linked extremist network while in Afghanistan as part of a backpacking trip. Coleman was pregnant at the time and had four children in captivity. The birth of the fourth child had not been publicly known before Boyle appeared before journalists at the Toronto airport.

 

"It will be of incredible importance to my family that we are able to build a secure sanctuary for our three surviving children to call a home," he said in his later statement at the airport. "To try to regain some portion of the childhood that they have lost."

 

Pakistani security forces extracted the family from where it was held in captivity in the country's northwest, near the Afghanistan border. The rescue operation came following years' long accusations leveled by the US against the Pakistani government, saying it was not doing enough to combat groups such as the Haqqani network.

 

"The stupidity and evil of the Haqqani network's kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter," he said, adding one of his children suffered health problems during their captivity and their Pakistani rescuers needed to force-feed him.

 

Boyle spoke with reporters after his release, saying his infant daughter was murdered and his wife raped by his captors (Photo: AP)
Boyle spoke with reporters after his release, saying his infant daughter was murdered and his wife raped by his captors (Photo: AP)

 

Boyle said his wife was raped by a guard who was assisted by his superiors. He asked for the Afghan government to bring them to justice.

 

"God willing, this litany of stupidity will be the epitaph of the Haqqani network," he said.

 

The journey home was complicated by Boyle's refusal to board a US military aircraft in Pakistan, according to two US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Boyle instead asked to be flown to Canada.

 

Boyle's father said his son did not want to board the plane because it was headed to Bagram Air Base and the family wanted to return directly to North America. Another US official said Boyle was nervous about being in "custody" given his family ties.

 

Boyle speaking with reporters in Toronto after his release (Photo: Reuters)
Boyle speaking with reporters in Toronto after his release (Photo: Reuters)

 

He was once married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior al-Qaeda financier. Her father, the late 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 US troops following a firefight and was taken to the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle's capture, with one official describing it in 2014 as a "horrible coincidence."

 

The Boyle-Coleman families were questioned why the couple went backpacking in such a dangerous region (Photo: AP)
The Boyle-Coleman families were questioned why the couple went backpacking in such a dangerous region (Photo: AP)

 

Boyle and Coleman's families were repeatedly questioned during the couple's years in captivity why their relatives would go backpacking in such a dangerous area, especially considering Coleman was pregnant at the time.

 

At his impromptu press conference, Boyle claimed he went to Afghanistan to help villagers "who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where no NGO, no aid worker and no government has ever successfully been able to bring the necessary help."

 

Reuters contributed to this report.

 

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