Freed hostage says Haqqani abductors raped wife, killed baby

Mr Joshua Boyle arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport last Friday, nearly five years after he and his wife were abducted in Afghanistan by the Taleban-allied Haqqani network.
Mr Joshua Boyle arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport last Friday, nearly five years after he and his wife were abducted in Afghanistan by the Taleban-allied Haqqani network.PHOTO: REUTERS

OTTAWA (Canada) • Freed Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle has revealed that kidnappers murdered his baby daughter and raped his American wife during the family's years-long captivity by the Haqqani network, a Taleban-affiliated group operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr Boyle levelled the accusations in a terse statement he read on arrival in Toronto late last Friday. He returned home with his wife, Ms Caitlan Coleman, and three children, after they were freed last Wednesday by Pakistani troops.

He condemned the Haqqani network's "stupidity and evil of authorising the murder of my infant daughter" in "retaliation for my repeated refusal to accept an offer that the miscreant of the Haqqani network had made to me, and the stupidity and evil of the subsequent rape of my wife".

He said the rape was not the action of a lone guard but was aided by the captain of the guard and a Haqqani commander he identified as Abu Hajr. The Haqqani group is headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is also the Afghan Taleban's deputy leader. The faction has long been suspected of having links with Pakistan's shadowy military establishment.

Mr Boyle said both incidents had taken place in 2014, some two years after he and Ms Coleman, who was then "heavily pregnant", were kidnapped in a remote Taleban-controlled area of Afghanistan.

He said they were in Afghanistan as "pilgrims" helping poor villagers when they were captured. The three children who survived the ordeal were all born in captivity.

"Obviously it will be of incredible importance to my family to build a secure sanctuary to call a home, to focus on edification and to regain some portion of the childhood they have lost," he said.

The Pakistani forces that freed the family said the United States intelligence services tipped them off that the family had been moved into Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal areas from across the border in Afghanistan. Residents in the tribal districts of Kurram, where the operation took place, and North Waziristan said they had seen drones flying above them for several days before the operation.

A senior Pakistani security source last Friday detailed how the family were freed following a car chase in the north-western tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

He said Pakistani troops and intelligence agents, acting on a US intelligence tip, zeroed in on a vehicle holding the family as they were being moved into Kurram tribal agency near the town of Kohat, some 60km inside Pakistan.

Agents from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and soldiers attempted to intercept the vehicle, but it sped away, according to the security source. "Our troops fired at the vehicle and burst its tyres," he said, declining to be identified because he is not authorised to speak openly to the media.

The kidnappers managed to escape, the security official added, saying the troops did not fire at the fleeing captors for fear of harming the hostages. The army recovered the hostages safely from the car.

Mr Boyle denied reports he had refused to be flown home aboard a US military aircraft, allegedly because of a brief marriage in 2009 to the sister of a Canadian-born man, who was captured in battle as a teenager in Afghanistan in 2002 and held for a decade at Guantanamo Bay.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 15, 2017, with the headline 'Freed hostage says Haqqani abductors raped wife, killed baby'. Print Edition | Subscribe