Deleted:Joshua Boyle

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In October 2012, Canadian-American couple Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman were kidnapped in Ghazni Province of Afghanistan [1][2][3] while on a backpacking trip through Central and South Asia. Joshua Boyle, a Canadian citizen, originally from Waterloo Region in Ontario,[4] and his wife Caitlan Coleman,[5] a U.S. citizen from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania,[6] were held captive by the Taliban from October 2012 to October 2017.[7][8][9] Their three children were born in captivity.[9][10]

On October 11, 2017, Pakistani forces located the family in Kurram Agency and rescued them, after receiving intelligence from Afghanistan-based U.S. forces that the hostages were in northwestern Pakistan.[11][12][13] There was no indication that any ransom had been paid, and during the rescue five Haqqani members were reportedly killed.[14]


Joshua Boyle is the second of five children of Linda and Patrick J. Boyle, a federal tax court judge. He was raised in Breslau, Ontario "in a devoutly Christian family" according to a news report. He attended a Mennonite school (Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, in Kitchener, Ontario) and years later, would describe himself as a "pacifist Mennonite hippy-child".[15] In October 2017, Boyle wrote that "My time in Breslau was the happiest period of my life, the one to which I most often returned in my dreams in prison."[16] Boyle was involved with his mother's "Anglican church and his father’s Catholic faith."[17] He attended the University of Waterloo, Ontario in Liberal Studies[15] and graduated in 2005.[18][19] He is also a journalism graduate.[20] He was known by his friends as a pacifist.[21] Boyle expressed interest in doing humanitarian work in places known to be dangerous.[22]

Boyle's interest in Islam, the War on Terror, and Guantanamo Bay

Boyle had a long-standing interest in Islamic terrorism, telling the Globe and Mail in 2009 that "anything related to terrorism on Wikipedia, I wrote, pretty much".[22] In his online Wikipedia user page he wrote: "It was moments like these that made him abandon all other thoughts crossing in his mind and focus on the most vexing; "How did we come to fight a war against spreading fear?". It wasn't something he could reconcile with himself, and so he went onward, greatly troubled." [23] Boyle was a significant major Wikipedia contributor (user name sherurcij) for years before being kidnapped in 2012. After 5 years as a captive with no Wikipedia contributions possible, he remained in Wikipedia's top 1500 contributors by article count.[24] Wikipedia's top 2000 contributors are responsible for 50% of its article creation.[24]

He took an interest in the Guantanamo Bay detainee, Omar Khadr. A friend later described Boyle's interest as follows: "Here was this kid, this Canadian child, off in an illegal American prison, and everyone in (Canada) was vilifying the Khadr family, and Josh decided, 'Hey, this isn’t right.' So he went off and devoted several years of his life to help this innocent kid."[25]

Boyle had met the Khadr family and offered to help them; he was their spokesman in 2008, at the time of a hunger strike by Omar's sister Zaynab Khadr on Parliament Hill.[26] In 2009, Boyle married Zaynab, later described by the CBC as "the daughter of a senior al-Qaeda financier and associate of Osama bin Laden".[27] Boyle was her third husband; the marriage lasted about a year, with the couple divorcing in 2010.[25] At the time, Boyle was believed by co-workers to be, or perhaps converting to become, a Muslim, taking prayer breaks at work at appropriate times.[22]

Boyle first received press coverage in 2009 after an attack on his father's home. During his marriage to Khadr, Boyle's parents' Ottawa house was fired upon and ransacked by an intruder but no valuables were taken. Boyle believed it was related to his marriage to "a woman who had ties to Osama bin Laden".[28][18][29]

During Boyle's captivity, FBI investigators concluded that the kidnapping of Boyle and his wife was unrelated to his first marriage and have described it as "a horrible coincidence".[30][31][32] and did not believe that Boyle's previous ties to the Khadr family were relevant to the kidnapping in Afghanistan.[33] The Royal Canadian Mounted Police agreed with the FBI assessment;[34][35] Boyle and his wife were described as innocents and "harmless hippies" by a former Canadian senior intelligence officer familiar with the case.[36][37]

The Boyle-Coleman marriage and family

Boyle and Coleman met online as teenaged Star Wars movie fans and became friends. At the time she was a devout Catholic living in Pennsylvania.[38] They married in Costa Rica in 2011 while travelling for six months across Central America.[22][39][40] After living with Boyle's parents in Smiths Falls, Ontario the couple moved to Perth-Andover, New Brunswick where Boyle worked for the Thing5 call centre and as a municipal clerk.[16][41] They lived in New Brunswick until travelling to Central Asia in early July 2012.[41][42] Coleman was approximately two months pregnant when they left for Central Asia and about 5 months pregnant when they entered Afghanistan in October.[17][43][44][45] They had return tickets home for early December 2012.[17]

At the time of their rescue, the couple had three children: Najæshi Jonah, Dhakwœn Noah, and Ma’idah Grace.[46] All three share the middle name Makepeace and all three were born in captivity in either Afghanistan or Pakistan. Coleman made this statement about the decision to have children in captivity. "It was a decision we made. ...a large part was the fact that it has always been important to me to have a large family ... I felt that it was our best choice at that time. We didn’t know if we would have that opportunity when we came back".[47] Boyle provided his own comment as to their frame of mind while in captivity: "Hey, let’s make the best of this and at least go home with a larger start on our dream family."[48] A trauma expert has written of them: "It is common after a forced or traumatic abortion to get pregnant repeatedly to try to heal that painful scar—a pattern to which the Boyle-Coleman marriage was no exception, even in captivity."[49]

During captivity, the couple had tried to educate their oldest son, but had few items that would be considered as toys. "We would just teach them to use things like bottle caps or bits of cardboard, garbage essentially, but what we could find to play with", Coleman told ABC News.[50] The captivity had been difficult for her family, and she commented that "I hope that they find enough happiness and joy to make up for it."[51]

Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn described recently[52] how he learned in correspondence from Boyle that he would sing Cockburn's song of protest and despair If I Had a Rocket Launcher[53] to their children as a lullaby while in captivity. Cockburn said he thought he could understand what Boyle would have been feeling at the time, and that Boyle was among those who understood what his song was about. Cockburn had himself performed that song for the Canadian troops in Afghanistan in 2009.[54][53]

After their release, her father vented his anger at Boyle in the news media, for "taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me and the kind of person I am, is unconscionable."[55] Boyle did not publicly respond to that comment but told the news media that the family was anticipating a "new lease on life ... restarting and being able to build a sanctuary for our children and our family in North America".[56] In a CBC Radio interview aired in March, Coleman's relationship with her father is described as "strained" and that her mother visited her in Ottawa alone.[57]

After their return to Canada, the family lived for a while with Boyle's parents in Smiths Falls[46] but then moved to an apartment hotel and then an apartment in Ottawa.[58][59]

On October 17, 2017 Coleman was taken to hospital in Ottawa but they did not provide a reason for the medical treatment.[60]

On December 18, 2017, the Boyle family met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his office on Parliament Hill.[61]

Taliban captives

Boyle and Coleman were kidnapped by armed men in October 2012 while traveling through Afghanistan's Wardak province, a Taliban haven 40 km (Template:Convert/Loff) from Kabul.[5][1][2] They had been touring Central Asia for several months backpacking in Russia and the former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.[33] They were taken days after entering Afghanistan.[62][34] Boyle last contacted family on October 8, 2012, from an internet cafe in an "unsafe part" of Kabul.[19]

Coleman gave birth to a boy in captivity[22] and subsequently had two other children, a boy and a girl.[10][29] Coleman was about 2 months pregnant when they left the US for Central Asia, and about 5 months pregnant when they entered Afghanistan.[17][43][44][45] They were held by the Haqqani network,[5][63][64] an insurgent group whose leader serves as the deputy head of the Afghan Taliban.[65] His parents said that Afghanistan was not part of the original travel plan.[19] They are civilians with no military or government ties.[66][67][68]

No ransom was demanded by their captors of the Boyle or Coleman families. In 2014 the Coleman family released two videos that had been received from the captors in 2013. In these, the family asks for a rescue from the Haqqani network. In August and December 2016, two other videos made by the captors became available. The first includes specific death threats against Boyle, his wife and their children unless the government in Kabul ended its execution of Taliban prisoners. The second video included their two young sons for the first time and Boyle's leg chains can be heard as he settles them. Coleman and Boyle beg their governments to reach an agreement with their captors to allow for their freedom.[69]{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Better source |date=__DATE__ |$B= [better source needed]]] }} Analyses of the videos indicated that the captors had made specific demands of governments for the release of the family. In the scripted videos Boyle and Coleman ask the US and Canadian governments to do what is required or demanded. They ask their families to push their governments to do what is demanded without describing what that is. The 2016 videos describe the nature of those demands.[37][36][70] The Taliban was said to be seeking an exchange for the release of certain Haqqani Network members imprisoned by Afghanistan,[71][70] including Anas Haqqani.[72][73]

Upon the family's rescue and return in October 2017, Boyle alleged that his captors had murdered his infant daughter "as retaliation for my repeated refusal to accept an offer that the criminal miscreants of the Haqqani Network had made to me".[74][65][75] Coleman suffered a miscarriage during captivity resulting from their captives having laced her food with large quantities of estrogen, according to Coleman and Boyle.[47][13] Coleman and Boyle have also told the news media that she had been raped by guards during captivity.[74][47][76] In one of the hostage videos, she stated that their "children have seen their mother defiled".[56] Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied the rape and murder but acknowledged one child died due to the lack of adequate healthcare.[77][78] The Taliban posted a rare denial in an official statement on its Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Voice of Jihad website denying the rape and abortion claims and describing an illness that led to a natural miscarriage, as well as maintaining that the Boyles' allegations can not be trusted as they are the enemy.[79]

Coleman also describes the forced abortion when she was about five months pregnant as murder. She told the CBC that "The forced abortion left me feeling much more violated and helpless than anything else I've experienced in my life, ...There's nothing quite like watching the loss of a life that you can't do anything about. That would've been the worst moment of all of captivity." [57][80] Coleman went on to say that the sexual assault was retaliation for her and Boyle complaining about the murder of their daughter Martyr Boyle in this way.

When questioned as to the reason for their trip to Afghanistan Boyle told the Toronto Star that his mission was humanitarian in nature, to help "the most neglected minority group in the world, those ordinary villagers who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where no NGO, no aid worker and no government has ever successfully been able to bring the necessary help".[33][81] He refused to discuss this further in an interview with ABC News.[3] To the accusation that he was there to do harm, he explained to the Toronto Star: “I’m a harmless hippie and I do not kill even mice,” “I’ve been vegetarian for 17 years. Anybody who knows me would laugh at the notion that I went with designs on becoming a combatant.”[45] A fellow traveler for many weeks, who is the last person to have seen them before the kidnapping who has spoken publicly, said Boyle briefly mentioned once that he would be looking for people in Afghanistan with an interesting story to tell.[57]

Coleman has given several interviews since the family's release.[47][3][57][80] In her most recent she asserted her independence in choosing to go to Afghanistan, and in choosing to have children in captivity. When asked her greatest frustration she replied "I am frustrated that so much of what happened to us, people don't view as something I did so much as something that I was forced to do. I wasn't forced to go to Afghanistan, nobody dragged me there, any more than anyone dragged me to Guatemala....Nobody forced me to have children that I didn't want, I had children that I wanted very much."[57] This echoed what she had earlier told ABC and The Star.

A Washington Post article upon their release which quoted Generally Kelly's comments that the family had been living in a hole for 5 years, and which reported a US official who is familiar with the case saying "The administration made very clear that if they wanted to come back to the United States there would be no problems”, also reported that an anonymous intel source had speculated, given Boyle's Khadr family history, that their trip may have been to link up with Taliban-affiliated militants.[82]

Lt. Col Jason Amerine testified in 2015 at Senate congressional hearings that he believed the June 2014 prisoner exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could have included Boyle, his wife Caitlan and their first son.[66][17][67][7][68][83][84][85] In 2016 an agreement to release Boyle alone was reported, but he is reported to have refused to leave his American wife and children behind.[86]{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Better source |date=__DATE__ |$B= [better source needed]]] }} In January 2016 Canada is reported to have brokered a deal for the release of Canadian Colin Rutherford and the Boyle family from Taliban captivity, but only Rutherford was released.[87][88] In 2017 the Obama administration was reported to be working hard in its last few weeks to secure the release of American hostages of the Taliban and Haqqani Network, including the Coleman-Boyle family.[71] The Trump administration is reported to be constantly discussing the plight of American hostages with Pakistan and raising it at the most senior levels.[89]

While addressing a think tank in Washington, then CIA director Mike Pompeo acknowledged the retrieval of "four US citizens who had been held for five years inside of Pakistan" as a "great outcome", contradicting public reports about the family's captivity in Afghanistan.[90] Coleman strongly disputes Pompeo's assertion they were held in Pakistan throughout.[47] Afghanistan's defence ministry claimed most foreigners kidnapped inside Afghanistan were "held as hostages in the neighbouring country".[91] The Afghan Taliban's spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid rejected the claims and said the hostages were kept in Afghanistan's Paktia Province, not Pakistan, and that some days prior to their rescue, they had been shifted to Kunar.[91]

White House Chief of Staff and former Secretary of Homeland Security General John Kelly reported that the family had been kept in "nightmarish conditions", "were essentially living in a hole for five years", and were in need of medical and psychological help.[92][10][56] Before they were rescued, Canadian Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Omar Alghabra had described what happened to Boyle and Coleman and their children as an unspeakable ordeal in which they were victims in the truest sense.[88][93] Following the family's rescue, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland described them as having endured an absolutely horrible ordeal and a really unspeakable traumatic experience.[10][94] Pakistan's ambassador to the US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said "No one should have to experience the pain and anguish that Ms. Coleman and her family had been put through in the past years."[95]


On October 11, 2017, Pakistani forces rescued the family,[11][10] after receiving intelligence from the US that the hostages were in northwestern Pakistan.[8][13][96][97] Boyle and his family were located in the trunk of a car at the time. Pakistani forces located the kidnappers and shot the tires of the car, but at least some of the captors managed to flee.[97][98][99] The last words the Boyles heard during the shooting were "Kill the prisoners (bandees)".[100][80] Boyle was injured by shrapnel.[11] Pakistan's High Commisioner tp Canada confirmed: "We know there was a shootout and Pakistani commandos carried out an attack and rescued the hostages." [101] There were reports by Pakistan military of some of the captors being killed in a shootout and others arrested,[102] as well as four of the Pakistani soldiers involved being killed two days later.[103][104] Boyle's father, Patrick Boyle, confirmed that Boyle, Coleman and their children had been freed.[9] At the time of the family's release, Boyle told his father that Coleman had given birth to a girl two months earlier.[10] Boyle and Coleman refused to leave Pakistan on an American airplane heading to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan,[92] boarding a commercial flight back to Canada instead.[105] Boyle later explained his refusal for the family to take the US military flight; he wanted them to return to North America without the need to first stop in Bagram.[74][56] When the family chose not to return on a military plane via Bagram and at least one report speculated that Boyle's refusal was "perhaps explained by the fact that [Omar Khadr] the brother of [Boyle's] first wife had been held as a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay for ten years",[92] the US Department of Justice stated that the US did not have any reason or interest to detain or arrest either Boyle or Coleman.[106][107][11] Upon their release White House Chief of Staff General Kelly said "We had arrangements to transport them back to the United States, or to Canada, anywhere they wanted to go."[10]

At the time of their release, Boyle's mother said in an interview “I think they’re going to have some, obviously, really tough times, I don’t think they’re aware because they kept themselves strong for so long, for each other and for the kids. But I think that it’s going to catch up with them and they’re probably going to have some real crashes, I expect. But we’re here for them.”[108][109] Within days of the family's return, Boyle's family are reported to have issued a statement asking the media to stop engaging with Boyle, citing concerns about Boyle and Coleman's deep trauma and Boyle's post-captivity mental wellness.[110] Boyle himself told CNN at that time that he and his family were "pretty broken"[111], having told the Toronto Star that he and his family were "psychologically and physically shattered".[112] Mclean's reported that Boyle's mental distress was evident in interviews two months later.[113]

In a Pakistan military propaganda video the Boyle family appeared in following their rescue and before being in the care of US and Canadian officials,[114][115][116] Joshua Boyle praised Pakistan's military for its bravery. He predicted that the west would "look at Pakistan a little bit differently now after this has happened and will understand that it is not a third-world disaster area run by incompetent people at all. It is actually on the world stage and on the front lines."[76] The U.S. government and president Donald Trump expressed their gratitude to Pakistani authorities for the rescue efforts, and signaled the development of a "much better relationship" with Pakistani leaders. Relations between the two countries had been strained prior to the rescue after Trump's new South Asia policy was released; he had criticized Pakistan's role in the Afghan war, including the housing of terrorists, and demanded more counter-terrorism efforts.[117][118]

Events after the rescue

Boyle was arrested on December 30, 2017, and charged with 15 offences including sexual assault, forcible confinement and uttering death threats.[119][120] The charges all related to events that occurred in Ottawa, Ontario, after their return to Canada, and allegedly involve two victims who were not named at the time of his first court appearance in Ottawa on January 3, 2018, via closed circuit video from jail.[121] Boyle is represented by Lawrence Greenspon and Eric Granger of Greenspon, Brown & Associates, an Ottawa law firm.[58] He has been remanded for a comprehensive psychiatric assessment and treatment recommendations.[122][123] Experts have suggested these may directly relate to post-captivity and rescue traumatic stress difficulties facing each of Boyle and Coleman and their children.[124][125][126][127][113][128][129][130][131][132]

Coleman continues to be supportive of her husband getting the help and healing he needs to recover from their past stress and trauma.She provided a statement to the Toronto Star on January 2, 2018. "I can’t speak about the specific charges, but I can say that ultimately it is the strain and trauma he was forced to endure for so many years and the effects that that had on his mental state that is most culpable for this. Obviously, he is responsible for his own actions, but it is with compassion and forgiveness that I say I hope help and healing can be found for him. As to the rest of us, myself and the children, we are healthy and holding up as well as we can."[133][120][134]

During the time of the alleged offences, the family had visited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This has caused some to question why the Prime Minister would have met with this family.[135] On January 3, 2018, the Prime Minister's Office said there would be no comment on matters relating to security protocols.[136] Later, the Prime Minister said all security protocols were followed.[137]

Coleman continues to live in Ottawa in their apartment with their three children.[80] A New York Times journalist familiar with the FBI and Coleman's family reports they would like to get her and the children away from Joshua and out of Canada.[80]


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