Caitlan Coleman and her husband, Josh Boyle, were abducted in Afghanistan in 2012 by the Haqqani network; Jennifer Griffin reports from the Pentagon.
An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children arrived in Canada Friday night, returning to the West after being held captive by a Taliban-affiliated group for five years.
Caitlan Coleman, Joshua Boyle and their children had left Pakistan on a commercial flight after Boyle reportedly balked at taking a U.S. plane out of Pakistan, fearing that his background could land him in the American detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Boyle was previously married to the sister of Omar Khadr, a Canadian man who spent 10 years at Guantanamo Bay after being captured in 2002 in a firefight at an Al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Justice Department said neither Boyle nor Coleman is wanted for any federal crime.
The family landed in Toronto Friday night on an Air Canada flight from London. Coleman, wearing a tan-colored headscarf, sat in the aisle of the business class cabin. She nodded wordlessly when she confirmed her identity to a reporter on board the flight. In the two seats next to her were her two elder children. In the seat beyond that was Boyle, with their youngest child in his lap. U.S. State Department officials were on the plane with them.
Boyle gave The Associated Press a handwritten statement expressing disagreement with U.S. foreign policy.
“God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination, and to allow that to stagnate, to pursue personal pleasure or comfort while there is still deliberate and organized injustice in the world would be a betrayal of all I believe, and tantamount to sacrilege,” he wrote.
He nodded to one of the State Department officials and said, “Their interests are not my interests.”
He added that one of his children is in poor health and had to be force-fed by their Pakistani rescuers.
The family was able to leave from the plane with their escorts before the rest of the passengers. There was about a 5- to 10-minute delay before everyone else was allowed out.
Coleman, of Stewartstown, Pa., was rescued along with Boyle and their children on Thursday after their captors moved them across the border to Pakistan from Afghanistan. U.S. officials supplied the intelligence used to facilitate the release, Pakistan said.
Shortly before the family landed in Canada Friday night, President Trump tweeted that the U.S. was “starting to develop a much better relationship with Pakistan and its leaders.”
“I want to thank them for their cooperation on many fronts,” Trump added.
U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of ignoring groups like the Haqqani network, which was holding the family. They call the Haqqani group a terrorist organization and have targeted its leaders with drone strikes. But the group also operates like a criminal network. Unlike ISIS, it does not typically execute Western hostages, preferring to ransom them for cash.
The Haqqani network had previously demanded the release of Anas Haqqani, a son of the founder of the group, in exchange for turning over the American-Canadian family. In one of the videos released by their captors, Boyle implored the Afghan government not to execute Taliban prisoners, or he and his wife would be killed.
Coleman and Boyle were kidnapped in October 2012 while on a backpacking trip that took them to Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan. All three of their children were born in captivity.
U.S. officials have said that several other Americans are being held by militant groups in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
They include Kevin King, 60, a teacher at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul who was abducted in August 2016, and Paul Overby, an author in his 70s who had traveled to the region several times but disappeared in eastern Afghanistan in mid-2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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