Canadian-American Couple Released After Five Years of Captivity

Hector Diaz, Photographer

Pakistani forces announced the rescue of Canadian-American couple Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman and their three children from their Afghanistani captors on Oct. 11. After receiving a tip from US intelligence, Pakistani forces mounted a rescue operation with US drones to free Boyle and his family.


Mohammad Abbuhadba, 12, is a Muslim student at Downey High who believes that both countries are helping to combat terrorism.


“I believe that Pakistan and the United States have a neutral agreement in these types of situations,” Abbuhadba said. “They have a common enemy who will not hesitate to involve innocent people.”


Boyle and his wife were hiking in Afghanistan in Oct. of 2012 when they were kidnapped by the Haqqani Network, a splinter group of the Taliban. At the time of the kidnapping, Coleman was pregnant and gave birth to a son while in captivity. Additionally, the couple had two more children–a boy and a girl–while they were held captive, raising many questions as to why they would have more kids in such a dangerous situation.


Egyptian immigrant, Ahmed Elshehawy, 12, believed that the couple having kids while in captivity is a sign of bad parenting.


“That’s them being reckless and irresponsible parents,” Elshehawy said. “It’s like they don’t even care about the situation they’re in or the present danger to their kids.”


During the time they were imprisoned, their captors released two proof-of-life videos showcasing the family. Once they were rescued, the family was to be transported aboard an American C-130 cargo plane, but reports show that Boyle did not want to get on the plane. His hesitance was derived from his previous marriage Zaynab Khadr, sister of Omar Khadr, a Canadian-citizen with alleged ties to Al-Qaeda. Boyle was afraid that he would be detained and questioned about possible ties with the Taliban or other terrorist organizations.


Daniel Aguilar, 12, who believes that foreign affairs should only be intervened upon when necessary, thinks that Boyle was right to be scared.


“I think his fear was justified,” Aguilar said. “Mainly because, if he was suspected of having ties with the Taliban, he should be nervous about being detained and questioned by Americans.”


Afterwards, Boyle and his family boarded the plane and were flown back to North America. After their rescue, Boyle revealed that the couple had given birth to a fourth daughter, who was killed by their captors as retaliation for Boyle’s refusal to accept a proposed offer. Boyle also claims that a guard raped his wife during their imprisonment, but a Taliban spokesman has denied the claims of rape and has stated that the infant died due to poor health conditions rather than murder. The family eventually left from Pakistan to London, and started the final leg of their journey, flying from London to Toronto, meeting up with Boyle’s family once in Canada.