American hostage Caitlan Coleman, family rescued in Pakistan after years of captivity

Cheryl Sanders
October 13, 2017

US President Donald Trump, has thanked the Pakistani government after the Pakistan Army recovered a Canadian family that had been held hostage by the Afghan Taliban.

The Pakistani military on Thursday carried out an operation to free Joshua Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman and their three children, after receiving a tip-off from the USA that the family had been transferred from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The family, after being released from five-year long captivity, had earlier refused to immediately board a US-bound jet over concerns about the husband's past links to a former Guantanamo Bay inmate.

Boyle was previously married to the sister of Omar Kadhr, a Canadian imprisoned for 10 years at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after fighting United States troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement on Thursday said the hostages were rescued "through an intelligence-based operation by Pakistani troops and the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence)".

In a short video message, shortly after the recovery of Boyle's family on Thursday, Linda and Patrick Boyle expressed that they were delighted to hear the news of Boyle's rescue after a joint operation. The early Thursday rescue operation "by Pakistani forces, based on actionable intelligence from USA authorities was successful".

Coleman was pregnant at the time.

"They worked very hard on this, and I believe they´re starting to respect the United States again", he said, adding that "a lot" of other nations were also showing greater deference to the US. Canadian officials have said his kidnapping was likely unrelated to his ex-wife's family ties, and friends have said Boyle was a pacifist, raised Mennonite, who became involved with the Khadr family because of his interest in human rights issues. Thursday's statements from Islamabad and Washington were the first mention of a third child. The Pakistani Army announced it had freed the couple along with their three children - all of whom were born in captivity. "We are prepared to bring them back home", the official said.

Coleman was abducted five years ago while traveling in Afghanistan with her husband.

The Haqqani network has been accused of masterminding several high-profile terrorist attacks in the Afghan capital and have been known to kidnap Western hostages and smuggle them across the border into Pakistan. It added that U.S. intelligence agencies had been tracking the family in Afghanistan, and reported that on 11 October they had moved across the border into the Kurram tribal district of Pakistan.

Both are riven by militancy, with Daesh gaining a foothold in Nangarhar and Paktia seen as a Haqqani stronghold.

They most recently appeared in a hostage video released in June this year.

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