Ottawa (AFP) – Freed Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle accused his kidnappers of murdering his baby daughter and raping his wife during his family’s years-long captivity by the Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated group operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Boyle leveled the accusations in a terse statement he read on arrival in Toronto late Friday with his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and three children, who were freed on Wednesday by Pakistani troops.
He condemned the Haqqani network’s “stupidity and evil of authorizing 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 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 Taliban’s deputy leader.
The faction has long been suspected of having links with Pakistan’s shadowy military establishment.
– A ‘secure sanctuary’ –
Boyle said both incidents had taken place in 2014, some two years after he and Coleman, who was “heavily pregnant” at the time, were kidnapped in a remote Taliban-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 Canadian government welcomed the family’s arrival.
“Today, we join the Boyle family in rejoicing over the long-awaited return to Canada of their loved ones,” a foreign ministry statement said.
“Canada has been actively engaged on Mr. Boyle’s case at all levels, and we will continue to support him and his family now that they have returned,” it said, asking that the family’s privacy be respected.
The Pakistani forces that freed the family said the US intelligence services tipped them off that they 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 told AFP they had seen drones flying in the skies above them for several days before the operation.
“We sent our troops, traced the vehicle on the basis of intelligence sharing … and recovered the hostages,” Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesman for the Pakistani military, said in televised comments late Thursday.
– Family ties –
Before marrying Coleman, Boyle was briefly married in 2009 to Zaynab Khadr, the sister of Canadian-born Omar Khadr, who was captured in battle as a teenager in Afghanistan in 2002 and held for a decade in the US military at Guantanamo Bay.
Boyle was active in the campaign to win Khadr’s release from Guantanamo and his transfer to Canada in 2012. He was freed on bail in 2015.
On Thursday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Boyle was not a target of any investigation.
Boyle returned to Toronto from Islamabad by commercial airlines, traveling via London. He denied reports he had refused to be flown home aboard a US military aircraft.