A Canadian man who was freed along with his family after five years in militant captivity in Afghanistan said his captors authorized the killing of one of his children and raped his wife.
“The stupidity and the evil of the Haqqani network’s kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter, Martyr Boyle,” Joshua Boyle told reporters upon his arrival Friday night at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
He said his goal now is to build “a secure sanctuary for our three surviving children to call a home … and try to regain some portion of the childhood that they have lost.”
His captors’ actions were in retaliation for his “repeated refusal to accept an offer” from them, he said, without providing details on what the offer was.
Boyle, his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three children were freed Thursday in a mission that Pakistani forces carried out based on intelligence from US authorities. CNN affiliate CTV reported that Boyle and his family were expected to return to his hometown of Smiths Falls, Ontario, with his parents.
“We join the Boyle family in rejoicing over the long-awaited return to Canada of their loved ones,” the Canadian government said Friday.
“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.”
The couple was held for five years by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network in Afghanistan after their kidnapping in 2012. Coleman was pregnant at the time of their kidnapping, and all their children were born while they were in captivity.
Boyle did not say whether the militants killed a child, only that his captors were responsible for “authorizing the murder” of his infant daughter.
Sources close to the family said Boyle alluded to at least one forced abortion while in captivity.
Boyle said his wife was raped by a guard who was assisted by his superiors, and he asked Afghan authorities to bring them to justice.
Boyle’s father, Patrick, said his son told him in a phone call after his release that the abuse his wife suffered during captivity was far worse than alluded to in “proof of life” videos the militants previously released of the family.
“I certainly do not intend to allow a brutal and sacrilegious gang of criminal miscreants to dictate the future direction of my family, nor to weaken my family’s commitment to do the right thing, no matter the cost,” Boyle said.
The Canadian said he had been in Afghanistan “helping the most neglected minority group in the world, those ordinary villagers that 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.”
A senior official had said Boyle refused to board an American military plane on Thursday over concerns he could face arrest. Boyle said his family had been delayed due to a medical emergency surrounding one of his children.
“I assure you, I have never refused to board any mode of transportation that would bring me closer to home, closer to Canada and back with my family,” he said.
Boyle was previously married to the sister of Omar Khadr, a Canadian imprisoned for 10 years at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after fighting US troops in Afghanistan.
The US official said there were some questions surrounding Boyle’s past, but the Department of Justice said he did not face arrest.
“Coleman and Boyle are not charged with any federal crime and, as such, we do not seek their arrest,” spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said.
‘We are living a miracle’
Before the family’s arrival in Canada, Patrick Boyle told CNN his son had described the rescue mission during a phone call.
“The five of them (were) in the back of a car being transferred and a car being stopped, surrounded by, Josh described, 35 Pakistani army officials,” Patrick Boyle said.
“A firefight (breaks) out, that all five captors had been killed by the Pakistani army, and all five of our Boyles are safe and OK. Josh said he was hit with some shrapnel, and our governments have confirmed that he was damaged in the leg. That’s all we know right now about that.”
Patrick Boyle said the sudden turn of events was nothing short of miraculous.
“Cait, in her last video, said if all five of them make it out, it’s going to be a miracle,” he said. “And we’re living a miracle.”