Kidnapping of Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Joshua Boyle)
Jump to: navigation, search

In October 2012, Canadian-American couple Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman were kidnapped in Afghanistan while on a backpacking trip through Central and South Asia. Joshua Boyle, a Canadian citizen, and his wife Caitlan Coleman,[1] a U.S. citizen from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania,[2] were held captive by the Taliban from October 2012 to October 2017.[3][1][4][5] Their three children were born in captivity.[5][6]

On October 11, 2017, Pakistani forces located the family in Kurram Agency and rescued them, after receiving intelligence from the U.S. that the hostages were moved over the Afghan border into northwestern Pakistan that same day.[7][8]


Joshua Boyle is the second of five children of Linda and Patrick Boyle, a federal tax court judge. He attended a Mennonite school and was involved with his mother's "Anglican church and his father’s Catholic faith."[9] He graduated with a B.A. from the University of Waterloo in 2005.[10][11] He is known by his friends as a pacifist.[12] Boyle expressed interest in doing humanitarian work in places known to be dangerous.[13]

Boyle had a long-standing interest in Islamic terrorism, stating in 2009 that "anything related to terrorism on Wikipedia, I wrote, pretty much."[13] He took an interest in the Guantanamo Bay detainee, Omar Khadr, and married Omar's sister Zaynab Khadr in 2009, becoming her third husband. At the time Boyle was believed by co-workers to be, or perhaps converting to become a Muslim, taking prayer breaks at work at appropriate times.[13] Boyle first received press coverage in 2009 after an attack on his father's home. During his marriage to Zaynab, Boyle's parents' Ottawa house was fired upon and ransacked by an intruder but no valuables were taken. Boyle believed it was related to his marriage to "a woman who had ties to Osama bin Laden."[14][10][15]

Boyle and Coleman met online as teenaged Star Wars movie fans and became friends. They married in Costa Rica in 2011 while travelling for six months across Central America.[13][16][17]

Originally from Smiths Falls, Ontario, Joshua Boyle lived in Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, before he and his wife Coleman travelled to Afghanistan.

Taliban captive[edit]

Boyle and Coleman were kidnapped by armed men in October 2012 while traveling through Afghanistan's Wardak province, a Taliban haven 40 km from Kabul.[1][18][19] They had been touring Central Asia for several months and were taken days after entering Afghanistan.[20][21] Boyle last contacted family on October 8, 2012, from an internet cafe in an "unsafe part" of Kabul.[11] Coleman, who was five months pregnant at the time she was kidnapped,[22][23][16] gave birth to a boy in captivity[13] and subsequently had two other children, a boy and a girl.[15][6] They were held by the Haqqani network,[1][24][25] a splinter insurgent group whose leader serves as the deputy head of the Afghan Taliban.[26] His parents said that Afghanistan was not part of the original travel plan.[11] They are civilians with no military or government ties.[27][28][29] After his release he explained that his mission was humanitarian in nature, to help "the most neglected minority group in the world, those ordinary villagers who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan."[30]

During Boyle's captivity, the U.S. FBI investigators have concluded that the kidnapping of Boyle and his wife was unrelated to his first marriage and have described it as "a horrible coincidence".[31][32][33] The Canadian RCMP agrees with the FBI assessment;[21][34] Boyle and his wife have been described as innocents and "harmless hippies" by a former Canadian senior intelligence officer familiar with the case.[35][36] After Boyle's release, U.S. intelligence publicly admitted that they had long suspected that his visit to Afghanistan included a desire to "link up with Taliban-affiliated militants."[37]

No ransom was demanded of their families. In 2014 their families released two videos received in 2013. In August and December 2016 the captors publicly released two further videos. The August 2016 video includes specific death threats against Boyle, his wife and their children. The December 2016 video included their two young sons for the first time and Boyle's leg chains can be heard as he settles them. These videos make it clear that the captors have made specific demands of governments for the release of this family. In these scripted videos Boyle and Coleman ask the US and Canadian governments to do what is required or demanded. They ask their families to push their governments to do what is demanded without describing what that is. The 2016 videos describe the nature of those demands.[36][35][38][39][40][41][42] [43][44][45][46] The Taliban was said to be seeking an exchange for the release of certain Haqqani Network members imprisoned by Afghanistan,[47][38] including Anas Haqqani.[48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58][59]

Lt. Col Jason Amerine testified in 2015 at Senate congressional hearings that he believed the June 2014 prisoner exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could have included Boyle, his wife Caitlan and their first son.[60][9][28][3][29][61][62][63] In 2016 an agreement to release Boyle alone was reported, but he is reported to have refused to leave his American wife and children behind.[64] In 2017 the Obama administration was reported to be working hard in its last few weeks to secure the release of American hostages of the Taliban and Haqqani Network, including the Coleman-Boyle family.[47]

Following their rescue, Boyle revealed his captors had murdered his infant daughter "as retaliation for my repeated refusal to accept an offer that the criminal miscreants of the Haqqani Network had made to me" and that his wife had been raped by a guard during captivity.[26] Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied the rape and murder but acknowledged one child died due to the lack of adequate healthcare.[65]

While addressing a think tank in Washington, CIA's director Mike Pompeo acknowledged the retrieval of "four US citizens who had been held for five years inside of Pakistan" as a "great outcome", contradicting public reports about the family's captivity in Afghanistan.[66] Afghanistan's defence ministry claimed most foreigners kidnapped inside Afghanistan were "held as hostages in the neighbouring country".[67] The Afghan Taliban's spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid rejected the claims and said the hostages were kept in Afghanistan's Paktia Province, not Pakistan, and that some days prior to their rescue, they had been shifted to Kunar.[67]


On October 11, 2017, Pakistani forces rescued the family,[7] after receiving intelligence from the US that the hostages had been moved over the border from Afghanistan into northwestern Pakistan.[4] Pakistani forces located the kidnappers and killed all five of them during a shootout. Boyle and his family were located in the trunk of a car at the time. Boyle was injured by shrapnel.[7] Boyle's father, Patrick Boyle, confirmed that Boyle, Coleman and their children had been freed.[5] At the time of the family's release, Boyle told his father that Coleman had given birth to a girl two months earlier.[6] Boyle refused to leave Pakistan on an American airplane heading to Bagram Air Base because of his previous ties to the Khadr family,[68] boarding a commercial flight back to Canada instead.[69]

The U.S. government and president Donald Trump expressed their gratitude to Pakistani authorities for the rescue efforts, and signaled the development of a "much better relationship" with Pakistani leaders. Relations between the two countries had recently strained following Trump's new South Asia policy, where he criticized Pakistan's role in the Afghan war and demanded more counter-terrorism efforts.[70]


  1. ^ a b c d "Joshua Boyle, Canadian held hostage in Afghanistan, pleads for help in new video". August 31, 2016. Archived from the original on October 25, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Pa. woman, husband, 2 sons speak in Taliban hostage video". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2016-12-21. Archived from the original on 2016-12-22. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  3. ^ a b Shane Harris (April 23, 2015). "An American Mom and Her Baby Are Being Held Hostage by The Taliban". Daily Beast. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  4. ^ a b "Pakistan secures release of Canadian man, family held captive by Taliban-linked group for 5 years". CBC News. Archived from the original on 2017-10-12. Retrieved 2017-10-12. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland welcomed the family's return from captivity. 
  5. ^ a b c "Canadian man, family held by Taliban for years rescued: "All okay"". The Globe and Mail. 2017-10-12. Retrieved 2017-10-12. 
  6. ^ a b c Shephard, Michelle (2017-10-12). "Kidnapped Canadian family released after 5 years of being held hostage". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Archived from the original on 2017-10-12. Retrieved 2017-10-12. Canadian Joshua Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman and their children are finally free after five years held hostage in Afghanistan by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network. 
  7. ^ a b c Ashifa Kassam, Amanda Holpuch, Haroon Janjua (2017-10-12). "Canadian-American family freed after five years as captives in Afghanistan". The Guardian (UK). Archived from the original on 2017-10-12. Nearly five years to the day after they were captured by militants linked to the Taliban, an American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children – all of whom were born in captivity – have been rescued, bringing an end to an ordeal the couple described as a “Kafkaesque nightmare.” 
  8. ^ "Canadian-American family, kidnapped in 2012 in Afghanistan, recovered by Pakistan Army". Dawn. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2017. 
  9. ^ a b Michelle Shephard (September 16, 2016). "Delivering his own son by flashlight: Kidnapped Canadian's correspondence gives glimpse of life in captivity". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2017-10-07. “We are trying to keep spirits high for the children and play Beautiful Life.” Boyle’s parents believe this is a reference to the movie in which a father protects his son from the brutalities of a Nazi concentration camp by pretending it is just a game. 
  10. ^ a b Michelle Shephard (April 2, 2009). "A break-in, slaying and Khadr marriage mystery". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2017-09-11. But then another connection came to light. Boyle had recently become the father-in-law of Zaynab Khadr, the outspoken sister of Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr. 
  11. ^ a b c Michelle Shephard; Jessica McDiarmid (December 31, 2012). "Khadr’s Canadian ex-husband and new wife missing in Afghanistan". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2017-09-11. Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman had been friends since they were teenagers, meeting online through a shared passion for Star Wars movies. When they were married in 2011, bureaucracy kept them living apart, so they decided to spend time travelling until their residency problems could be resolved. 
  12. ^ Edwards, Alex (2015-10-03). "The Sad, Strange Story of the Taliban’s Canadian Hostage". Archived from the original on 2017-09-11. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Nick Logan (June 4, 2014). "Canadian held in Afghanistan: Who is Joshua Boyle?". Archived from the original on December 22, 2016. 
  14. ^ David Pugliece (June 11, 2015). "Plan to release Canadian hostages stymied by U.S. gov't infighting, lawmakers hear". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on 2017-09-11. A U.S. special forces officer says his attempts to put a rescue plan together for two Canadian hostages being held in Pakistan – one of them a man from Ottawa – were scuttled by U.S. government infighting and a lack of policy on how to deal with hostage situations. 
  15. ^ a b Keri Blakinger (July 1, 2016). "American woman held hostage by Taliban for nearly four years has second child in captivity". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on February 16, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b "Delivering his own son by flashlight: Kidnapped Canadian's correspondence gives glimpse of life in captivity | Toronto Star". 2016-09-16. 
  17. ^ "Khadr’s Canadian ex-husband and new wife missing in Afghanistan | Toronto Star". 2012-12-31. 
  18. ^ "Canadian man and American woman kidnapped in Wardak - Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency". October 12, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Ottawa probes report of Canadian kidnapped in Afghanistan". 2012-10-12. 
  20. ^ "State Dept. - US aware of Afghan hostage video, assessing it". 2016-08-30. 
  21. ^ a b Michelle Shephard (2014-07-26). "Family keeps hope alive for son, daughter-in-law kidnapped by Taliban |". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2017-09-11. 
  22. ^ "US faces challenge freeing Americans held hostage on Pakistani-Afghan border". Fox News. 2016-01-18. 
  23. ^ "They met their grandsons in a Taliban hostage video | Toronto Star". 2016-12-21. 
  24. ^ Bergen, Peter (2015-06-24). "How to free American hostages". CNN. 
  25. ^ Bergen, Peter (2016-12-21). "How Trump should respond to hostage appeal". CNN. 
  26. ^ a b Cohen, Alan; Helsel, Phil (14 October 2017). "Canadian Hostage Freed in Pakistan Says Captors Killed Their Infant". NBC News. Retrieved 14 October 2017. 
  27. ^ "Special Forces officer: American hostages held overseas ‘failed’ by U.S. government". Washington Post. 2015-06-11. 
  28. ^ a b "U.S. government botched chance to rescue Canadian hostages in Pakistan, American soldier says". National Post. 2015-06-12. 
  29. ^ a b "Canadian held hostage in Afghanistan freed after five years". Globe & Mail. 2016-01-11. 
  30. ^ Michele Sheppard (October 13, 2017). "Joshua Boyle Lashes Out At Kidnappers". Toronto Star. 
  31. ^ "Couple Held Captive in Afghanistan Plead for Help in Newly-Public Video". The Atlantic Magazine. 2014-06-04. Archived from the original on 2017-09-11. 
  32. ^ "Missing N American couple in 'Taliban' video". BBC News. 2014-06-04. Archived from the original on 2017-09-11. The families of the captive couple said they decided to make the videos public because of Bowe Bergdahl's release. They said their were disappointed the two were not freed as part of a prisoner swap deal that led to US soldier, Sgt Bergdahl, walking free at the weekend. 
  33. ^ Eric Tucker (2014-06-04). "Canadian held captive in Afghanistan with U.S. wife makes plea on video | Toronto Star". Archived from the original on 2016-03-17. 
  34. ^ "They met online, shared a love of 'Star Wars.' Now the Taliban has them.". The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News. 2016-12-21. Archived from the original on 2017-09-11. 
  35. ^ a b "Canada must do more for the taken". Globe & Mail. 2017-05-11. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  36. ^ a b "Canada's no-ransom policy is flawed, hypocritical: ex-CSIS official". Globe & Mail. 2017-05-11. 
  37. ^ Greg Jaffe (October 13, 2017). "Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle are free. Their mysterious story is raising new questions.". Washington Post. 
  38. ^ a b "Canada’s forgotten child hostages | Toronto Star". 2017-05-16. 
  39. ^ "New Videos Show Western Couple Held Captive in Afghanistan". Time. 2014-06-04. 
  40. ^ "Child born to couple held in Afghanistan". Aljazeera. 2016-06-05. 
  41. ^ "Missing western couple in Afghanistan plead for help in videos". Fox News. 2014-06-04. 
  42. ^ "Joshua Boyle, Caitlin Coleman, Couple Held Captive In Afghanistan Should Be Released, Canada Says". HuffPost Canada. 2016-12-20. 
  43. ^ "Taliban video shows sons born to kidnapped U.S., Canadian couple". Reuters. 2016-12-20. 
  44. ^ Goldman, Adam (2016-09-11). "In a Shift, U.S. Includes Families in Hostage Rescue Efforts". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  45. ^ "Taliban aims to prevent Anas Haqqani death sentence with hostage video - Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency". 2016-09-01. 
  46. ^ "Hostage video aimed at pressuring Afghan government over militant case: Taliban source". Reuters. 2016-08-31. 
  47. ^ a b "One Hand on Light Switch, Obama Isn’t Flipping to ‘Off’ Just Yet". The New York Times. 2017-01-15. 
  48. ^ "American Woman Abducted in Afghanistan Issues an Appeal to Obama". The New York Times. 2016-12-19. 
  49. ^ Bergen, Peter; et al. (2017-01-08). "American hostages more likely to die than others from the West". CNN. 
  50. ^ Yusufzai, Rahimullah (2017-07-02). "Life in captivity | TNS - The News on Sunday". 
  51. ^ Yusufzai, Rahimullah (2017-06-24). rents-appeal-to-Haqqani-network-to-free-their-Canadian-son "Parents appeal to Haqqani network to free their Canadian son" Check |url= value (help). 
  52. ^ "Western Hostages Being Offered as Trade for Terrorist - American Media Institute American Media Institute". 2017-02-14. 
  53. ^ "Parents of Canadian hostage held in Afghanistan speak out -". 2016-12-21. 
  54. ^ "U.S. could use military to free Taliban-held American-Canadian family, senator says". NBC News. 2016-12-21. 
  55. ^ "'Despicable': Taliban releases video showing couple kidnapped in Afghanistan". NBC News. 2016-12-20. 
  56. ^ "Video of Canadian-American couple held hostage in Afghanistan 'simply heartbreaking'". CBC News. 2016-12-21. 
  57. ^ "'They looked like such a beautiful family' Canadian parents of son, grandchildren held by Taliban". CBC Radio. 2016-12-22. 
  58. ^ Here & Now (2016-12-22). "'We Deal With It Best We Can': Parents Of Hostage Family Held In Afghanistan Speak Out". 
  59. ^ Goldman, Adam (2016-12-19). "American Woman Abducted in Afghanistan Issues an Appeal to Obama". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  60. ^ "Special Forces officer: American hostages held overseas ‘failed’ by U.S. government". Washington Post. 2015-06-11. 
  61. ^ "Hostage Rescue Plans Bungled by Bureaucracy, Green Beret Says". ABC News. 2015-06-11. 
  62. ^ Bergen, Peter (2015-05-28). "Why is this Special Forces war hero being investigated?". CNN. 
  63. ^ "Special Forces officer under investigation by Army called to testify at whistleblower hearing". Washington Post. 2015-06-04. 
  64. ^ "Western couple appear in Taliban video". Daily Mail. 2016-08-30. 
  65. ^ Jilbran Ahmad (October 15, 2017). "Afghan Taliban deny former hostage's claims of murder, rape". Reuters. 
  66. ^ "Hostage family held in Pakistan for five years: CIA". Dawn. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 22 October 2017. 
  67. ^ a b Khan, Hasaan Ali (21 October 2017). "Afghan Taliban rubbish CIA chief's claim of US-Canadian hostages being held in Pakistan". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 22 October 2017. 
  68. ^ "Freed U.S.-Canadian family reportedly leaves Pakistan". CBS news. October 13, 2017. 
  69. ^ Michelle Mark (October 13, 2017). "The family freed after 5 years of Taliban captivity is finally en route to Canada after initially refusing to board a US plane". Business Insider. 
  70. ^ "US not to forget Pakistan’s help in rescue operation". Dawn. 14 October 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2017.