In 2012, Caitlan Coleman, a native of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, and her Canadian husband, Josh Boyle, were in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province as part of an adventure trip through Russia and Central Asia. Coleman was several months pregnant at the time. The couple was captured by the militant Haqqani network and was seen over the years in two videos, along with two of the children they had in captivity, in which they pleaded for their freedom. A third child was born recently.
On Thursday the Pakistani military said it had rescued “5 Western hostages including 1 Canadian, his US National wife and their three children from terrorist custody through an intelligence based operation by Pakistan troops and intelligence agencies.” The statement said the family had been kept in Afghanistan since their abduction but had crossed over into Pakistan in recent days and that Pakistani authorities were alerted to this fact by the U.S. counterparts.
President Trump, in a statement, confirmed that those rescued were Coleman, now 31, Boyle, now 34, and their three children, all of whom were born in captivity.
The couple’s path to Wardak, from there to captivity, and from there to their eventual freedom, was a complicated one. Canadian media have previously said Boyle was fascinated with terrorism. In 2009 he told the Globe and Mail: “Anything related to terrorism on Wikipedia, I wrote, pretty much.” Boyle was also married at one point to the sister of Omar Khadr, the teenage Canadian who was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 and held in Guantanamo Bay until 2012. (At first Khadr pleaded guilty to killing an American soldier, but later said his confession was coerced. The U.S. returned him to Canada to serve out the rest of his eight-year sentence, but he was freed by a Canadian court. He eventually sued the Canadian government, won a multimillion settlement, and an apology.) Intelligence officials have previously called that link and Boyle’s abduction a “horrible coincidence.” Boyle and Coleman met online. They were married in 2011, a year before they set off on their trip.