Ex-hostage explains why he had kids while being held by Taliban for 5 years
TORONTO — Former hostage Joshua Boyle said Monday he and his wife decided to have children even while held captive because they always planned to have a big family and decided, “Hey, let’s make the best of this and at least go home with a larger start on our dream family.”
Boyle, his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three children were rescued Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted in Afghanistan on a backpacking trip. The children were born in captivity.
“We’re sitting as hostages with a lot of time on our hands,” Boyle told The Associated Press in an email Monday. “We always wanted as many as possible, and we didn’t want to waste time. Cait’s in her 30s, the clock is ticking.”
Boyle said the kids are now 4, 2 and “somewhere around 6 months.”
“Honestly we’ve always planned to have a family of 5, 10, 12 children … We’re Irish, haha,” he wrote.
Coleman was pregnant at the time of their abduction and had the children while she was a hostage.
Boyle said after landing at Toronto’s airport that the Taliban-linked Haqqani network killed their infant daughter and raped his wife during the years they were held.
In the email exchange, Boyle did not respond to a question about the fourth child. The Taliban said in a statement on Sunday that it was a miscarriage.
Boyle has said conditions during the five-year ordeal changed over time as the family was shuffled among at least three prisons. He has described the first as remarkably barbaric, the second as more comfortable and the third as a place of violence in which he and his wife were frequently separated and beaten.
After returning to his parents’ home in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Boyle emailed the AP a statement saying they had “reached the first true ‘home’ that the children have ever known — after they spent most of Friday asking if each subsequent airport was our new house hopefully.”
He also emailed two photos of his son Najaeshi Jonah Makepeace Boyle and said the boy began “raiding the first refrigerator of his life.” The picture shows the boy sitting on the floor in a dark corner with food in his hand. The other shows him napping with a blanket covering part of his face and surrounded by stuffed animals.
Boyle later played with one of his sons in the garden of his parents’ home. The boy appeared happy and healthy, digging in the grass as his father showed off the different plants and later spoke on a cellphone.
On a flight from London earlier, Coleman, who is from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, sat in the business-class cabin wearing a tan head scarf.
She nodded wordlessly as she confirmed her identity to an AP reporter on board. Next to her were her two elder children. In the seat beyond that was Boyle, with their youngest in his lap. Boyle gave a separate, handwritten statement to the AP then, expressing disagreement with U.S. foreign policy and saying, “God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination.”
Boyle, a former call center worker, said in an earlier statement that he had gone to Afghanistan with his pregnant wife to help villagers “who 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.”
Boyle was once briefly married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior al-Qaida financier who had contacts with Osama bin Laden.
The Canadian-born Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. troops following a firefight and was taken to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle’s capture, with one describing it in 2014 as a “horrible coincidence.”