Though a York County woman and her family have been released from Taliban custody, they may not be coming home to the U.S.
Hours after it was announced that Stewartstown native Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian-born husband, Joshua Boyle, had been freed after being held by the Taliban for five years, came reports that Boyle was refusing to board a plane to the U.S.
A U.S. national security official, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, said U.S. officials had planned on moving the family out of Pakistan on a U.S. transport plane, but at the last minute Boyle would not get on, the official said.
Another U.S. official said Boyle was nervous about being in “custody” given his background.
Boyle was once married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a late senior al-Qaida financier, according to The Associated Press. Her father, Ahmed Said Khadr, and the family stayed with Osama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy.
The Canadian-born Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. troops following a firefight at a suspected al-Qaida compound. He was taken to Guantanamo and ultimately charged with war crimes by a military commission. He pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that included murder and was sentenced to eight years plus the time he had already spent in custody.
Officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle’s capture, with one official describing it in 2014 as a “horrible coincidence.”
The couple has told U.S. officials they wanted to fly commercially to Canada, according to the official, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the situation.
The couple was freed as part of an exchange between the Pakistani military and U.S. commandos late Wednesday.
The Toronto Star reported that Boyle spoke to his parents after his release and told them he’d been in the trunk of the kidnappers’ car with his wife and children when Pakistani forces rescued them. He told the paper there had been a shoot-out and that the last words he heard from the kidnappers were, “kill the hostages.”
“Josh said he was doing pretty well for someone who has spent the last five years in an underground prison,” his father, Patrick, told the paper.
The couple also recorded a video, in which they recounted their first conversation with their son in five years.
“We got to hear his voice. It was amazing. He told us how much his children were looking forward meeting their grandparents,” his mother, Linda Boyle, said.
The couple was captured in 2012 by al-Qaeda-aligned Afghan Haqqani Network while on an adventure trip through Afghanistan. During their time in captivity, Coleman gave birth to three children.
At the Stewartstown home of her parents, Jim and Lyn Coleman, the family had left a note on the door, expressing joy at their release and asking for privacy.
In a statement, President Donald Trump said the U.S. secured the family’s release on Wednesday and called it a positive moment for the country’s relationship with Pakistan. The U.S. has long criticized Pakistan for failing to aggressively go after the Haqqanis, who have been behind many attacks against U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to incorporate new information from The Associated Press. The story is a combination of reporting by PennLive.com staff and the AP.
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