The family that began in captivity

Photo courtesy of YouTube | Caitlin Coleman (left), Joshua Boyle (right) and two of their three children finally made their way home after spending nearly five years as captives of the Taliban-backed Haqqani network. The two experienced constant torture, but this did not stop them from starting the family they always wanted.


After nearly five years in captivity at the hands of the Taliban-backed Haqqani network, a Canadian-American family has arrived back home in Ontario. Canadian citizen Joshua Boyle and American citizen Caitlan Coleman, along with their three surviving children, arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Oct. 13 following their imprisonment.

The family was abducted in 2012 while backpacking in Afghanistan. They were held for almost five years until their rescue on Wednesday, Oct. 11 by Pakistani troops in the northwestern province of Pakistan, near the Afghan border.

Coleman was pregnant at the time of her capture and gave birth to the couple’s first child while in captivity. She went on to give birth to three more children during their imprisonment who are now aged 4, 2 and “somewhere around 6 months.”

Boyle confirmed that while in captivity, their captors raped Coleman and killed their first-born daughter. Nevertheless, the couple was determined to start their family despite their imprisonment.

“We’re sitting as hostages with a lot of time on our hands,” Boyle explained following his rescue. “We always wanted as many (children) as possible, and we didn’t want to waste time. Cait’s in her 30s, the clock is ticking.”

The surviving children are now in good health and discovering a world beyond prison.

“These are children who three days ago didn’t know what a toilet looks like. They used a bucket. Three days ago they did not know what a light is or what a door is except that it is a metal thing that is locked in their face to make them a prisoner,” Boyle said.

“And now they are seeing houses, they are seeing food, they are seeing gifts, all of this. They are doing very well.”

The United States has long asserted that the Pakistani military is too lenient in their fight against extremist groups such as the Haqqani Network, allowing abductions such as these to run rampant with little resistance. A spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry claimed the rescue was premised on intelligence provided to them by the United States, and therefore demonstrates their willingness to fight terrorist networks.

“We hold a very specific type of authority over the region because of our intentions with resources and military might and in viewing the region as something that needs to be controlled,” explained Kaitlyn Clyne, a junior political science and English double major.

“I think the United States overreaches in these kinds of matters, and we have a very specific set of demands for countries that we don’t give resources to, that we don’t give assistance to, and we demand they take action against their citizens in ways that we can understand and would not reciprocate in terms of our own citizens.”

Clyne was quick to offer an alternate perspective as well,

“Another common view is that the United States does give adequate resources to these countries, so it’s kind of fair play, it’s justified in asking for assistance in fighting terrorists in this area.”

However, she concluded, “Personally, I would say the United States demands too much because we would never do the same if another country asked us to extradite a citizen (for example).”


By: Ryan Kambich and Sylvia Chemweno ~Copy Editors~

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