A Canadian man who was recently freed after five years in Taliban captivity initially didn’t believe Donald Trump was elected US president.
Joshua Boyle, who returned home to Canada on Friday evening after a five year ordeal, was told by one of the captors that Trump had been elected president late last year prior to filming a “proof-of-life” video.
“It didn’t enter my mind that he was being serious,” Boyle told The Toronto Star, in a wide-ranging interview from Boyle’s parents house outside of Toronto.
Boyle, and his wife, Caitlan Coleman, were kidnapped by the Taliban-allied Haqqani networkafter traveling to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2012.
The couple was was held in a series of tiny, underground cells along the Afghanistan-Pakistan with little access to television, radio, or any reading materials.
Boyle told The Star that some of the cells they were held in were no larger than a bathtub, and the only entertainment they were provided was a piece of chalk and a slate.
He also recounted horrific details of the ordeal, alleging that his wife had been raped by the captors and was forced to abort a baby.
Coleman and Boyle had three children in captivity, who are now adjusting to life in Canada. Coleman was five months pregnant when she was kidnapped, and the couple told The Star they kept Coleman’s second pregnancy secret, right up until the moment of birth.
The family was freed by Pakistani security officers, operating on US intelligence, in a bloody shootout that left their captors dead.
Boyle was initially reluctant to get on a US transport plane after being freed. 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 family took a commercial flight back to Canada.
Boyle’s trip to Afghanistan raised eyebrows. He was formerly married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of Omar Khadr, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, and the son of a prominent Al-Qaeda financier. Omar Khadr — then only 15 years old — was captured by US forces following a firefight that left a US Army Sergeant dead in 2002.
And Coleman’s father, Jim Coleman, told “Good Morning America” on Friday: “Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person I am, it’s unconscionable.”
Boyle responded, saying that he is a “harmless hippie,” and that he and Coleman went to Afghanistan for humanitarian reasons.
“Anybody who knows me would laugh at the notion that I went with designs on becoming a combatant,” Boyle told The Star.
As for his captors, Boyle told The Star the Haqqani network “are people who have no relationships in life that are not purely mercenary.”
“They have no real friends, only cohorts. They have no wives, children. Those we met who were not orphans spoke of hating their parents,” Boyle added.
For now, Boyle said he’s looking forward to spending quality time with his kids. Boyle told The Star his oldest child, Jonah, aged 4, was “so excited” to be free “he just wanted to sit on his pile of toys with a gigantic smile on his face.”
“He wanted to sit there and bask in being ‘no bandi’ after all of this time,” Boyle said. “Bandi,” according to the Star, is what Haqqani captors call their hostages.
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