VIDEO: Canadian freed from captivity says family was kidnapped because wife was pregnant

Joshua Boyle and his family were held hostage by a Taliban-linked group for years

A couple held hostage for five years by a Taliban-linked network and forced to raise three children while in captivity were initially targeted for ransom because of the impending birth of their first child, the Canadian man at the heart of the case speculated Saturday.

Joshua Boyle said he and his wife Caitlan Coleman heard at least half a dozen reasons why they had been snatched from a village in Afghanistan and held against their will by the Haqqani network over the years they were imprisoned.

The most credible, however, had to do with the fact that Coleman was well into the third trimester of pregnancy at the time of their capture in 2012.

“As near as we can tell, we were targeted to be kidnapped because it was well-known by the eventual-kidnappers that Caitlan was heavily pregnant,” Boyle said in an email sent to the Canadian Press. “They spoke often immediately following the kidnapping that ‘America will pay for you very quickly, America will not want to risk the baby is born here in prison.’”

Boyle said Coleman was the obvious focus of the kidnappers during the first few weeks of captivity, seeing him as secondary.

Kidnappers used to taunt him by saying that the U.S. government was expressing interest in securing Coleman’s release while Canadian officials were showing no interest in his plight, Boyle said. There is no indication as to whether the captors were conveying accurate information at the time.

Their guards’ confidence in a “get-rich-quick scam” began to erode by late November, he said, a month after the couple had been seized and several weeks before the child was born at the end of December 2012.

Coleman would give birth three more times during the following five years, with two of the children surviving and accompanying their parents back to Canada after being liberated by Pakistani commandos.

One of the children, who Boyle described as an infant daughter, was killed in retaliation for his refusal to accept an offer from the kidnappers at some point during the family’s captivity.

Boyle did not elaborate on the offer, but called for his abductors to be brought to justice both for killing his daughter and raping Coleman.

Boyle told The Canadian Press that conditions during the five-year ordeal changed over time as the family was shuffled among at least three prisons.

He described the first as “remarkably barbaric,” the second as more comfortable and the third as a place of violence in which he and his wife were frequently separated and beaten.

Conditions also varied based on the guards on duty, Boyle said, adding that one would allow the family to eat mangoes while another could withhold soap from the group for months at a time.

“We developed a sad joke with each other, that if we said ‘No, no, I think this change will be good because X’ it would invariably turn out to be bad, and when we said ‘No, no, this is bad news because X’ we’d be proven wrong again,” he said.

This certainly proved true on Oct. 11 when commandos stormed the area where the family was being held.

The rescuers were acting on intelligence from the United States indicating the group had been moved to Pakistan.

Boyle provided few details of the rescue other than to say it involved gunfire surrounding a car in which the group was travelling.

He said the rescue was the most dramatic example yet of the pattern of reversed expectations.

“When it became clear that there were bullets ripping into the car we assumed this to be very bad … but by the grace of God, no, it turns out it was the best thing to happen to us in five years,” he said.

The release came nearly five years to the day since Boyle and Coleman lost touch with their families while travelling in a mountainous region near the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The couple had set off in the summer 2012 for a journey that took them to Russia, the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and eventually to Afghanistan.

Boyle said the couple was helping ordinary villagers in a Taliban-controlled area when they were seized.

The family returned to Toronto aboard an Air Canada flight on Friday night.

Boyle said an initial statement delivered to reporters was delayed due to a “medical emergency” involving one of his children. But Saturday morning, he released a statement to CTV News saying that doctors believe his youngest daughter will recover.

“Our daughter has had a cursory medical exam last night, and hospital staff were enthusiastically insistent that her chances seemed miraculously high based on a quick physical.”

He wrote in the statement that medical work-ups are being arranged for the rest of his family, and that “God-willing”, the physical and mental healing process will soon begin.

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Penticton motorists should expect delays in downtown area

Road repaving and bike lane installation work is set to take place

Man suing Penticton library for almost $20K has to settle for less

A man was suing the City of Penticton Library for almost $20,000 after his backpack was stolen

Fall drawdown at Osoyoos Lake starts

Lakeside residents can expect to see water levels drop six inches over the next week

Students down and very dirty at Freak’N Farmer

Students had a chance during the past two weeks to try out the Freak’N Farmer obstacle course

Penticton man with multiple driving infractions loses appeal on ‘harsh’ sentence

Driver has been convicted multiple times, including for criminal negligence causing death

Bears roaming around Okanagan school, busy neighbourhood

Cubs spotted near elementary school, large bear seen at park

Tim Hortons dropping Beyond Meat products from menus except in B.C. and Ontario

Beyond Meat burgers dropped nationally, but breakfast sandwiches still available in B.C. and Ontario

LETTER: Democracy concerns must be addressed

Critical issues keep some from voting

Revelstoke RCMP seize $1.9 million from ‘erratic’ driver

The driver and passenger were detained under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Salmon Arm theatre reduces barriers with inclusive opening of Wizard of Oz

Relaxed conventions opens experience to people with autism, dementia, sensory disorders

Yearbook photo surfaces of Trudeau wearing ‘brownface’ costume in 2001

The report describes the occasion as an ‘Arabian Nights’-themed gala event

‘Troubling, insulting’: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh reacts to Trudeau’s brownface photo

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democrats, responded with a call for love after Trudeau photos surface

Guns, taxes, climate change and more at North Okanagan forum

The five federal candidates in the North Okanagan-Shuswap engaged with the public Wednesday night

Elderly B.C. man gets 10 years in prison for sexually abusing young daughters

WARNING: This story contains graphic details and is not appropriate for all readers

Most Read