- Thomson Reuters
The young family freed Thursday from militants have boarded a commercial flight to London from Islamabad, Pakistan, and will travel to Canada from there, a Pakistani military official told CNN on Friday.
Joshua Boyle, a Canadian, and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, were held hostage by the Taliban’s Haqqani network for five years after they were abducted while traveling in Afghanistan. The couple’s three children were all born in captivity.
Speculation abounded Thursday after media reports said Boyle had refused to board a US transport plane that American officials had arranged for the family. One US official told the Associated Press that Boyle had been nervous about being in “custody” because of his background, though another official clarified that the family was not formally in US custody.
The White House chief of staff, John Kelly, also said on Thursday that US officials had “arrangements to transport them back to the United States, or to Canada, anywhere they wanted to go.” He added that the family was receiving medical and psychological treatment.
“They’ve been essentially living in a hole for five years,” Kelly said.
It’s unclear what precisely about Boyle’s background made him nervous around US officials, but media reports have noted that Boyle was once married to Zaynab Khadr – the sister of the Canadian-born former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr – who has expressed sympathies with Al Qaeda.
The siblings’ father, Ahmed Said Khadr, who died in 2003, was a Qaeda financier close to Osama bin Laden, with whom the family had once briefly stayed. Officials have dismissed any notion that the family’s capture was connected to Boyle’s previous marriage. In 2014, they described the Khadr family link as a “horrible coincidence.”
But Boyle’s decision not to board the US plane didn’t add up, Coleman’s father Jim said on Friday in an interview with “Good Morning America.”
“I don’t know what five years in captivity would do to somebody but if it were me and I saw a US aircraft and US soldiers, I’d be running for it,” Jim Coleman said. He also criticized Boyle’s decision to travel to Afghanistan in the first place.
“What I can say is taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person that I am, is unconscionable,” he said.
In an interview with The Toronto Star on Thursday, which took place during a phone call to his Ontario-based parents, Boyle said his family looked forward to rebuilding their lives.
“My family is obviously psychologically and physically shattered by the betrayals and the criminality of what has happened over the past five years,” Boyle told The Star. “But we’re looking forward to a new lease on life, to use an overused idiom, and restarting and being able to build a sanctuary for our children and our family in North America.”
Boyle added, jokingly, “I have discovered there is little that cannot be overcome by enough Sufi patience, Irish irreverence, and Canadian sanctimony.”