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Pakistan's Haqqani network demands prisoners in exchange for American hostages

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WATCH | The Taliban has released a proof-of-life video of American hostage Caitlan Coleman and her family, signaling to President Obama and President-elect Trump the potential for a deal to release the captives they have held more than four years since their abduction in Afghanistan.


Terrorists demand release of Taliban members being held

The key demand made by members of the Haqqani Network is the release of some senior Taliban prisoners being held in Afghanistan, along with a ransom believed to be in the millions, said U.S. officials.

James and Lynda Coleman, Caitlan's parents, confirmed to Circa they saw the video and have spoken to U.S. officials.

They chose not to comment at this time.

It's one that you have to tread very carefully because you want to make sure that those hostages and those American captives stay safe.
CIA Director John Brennan

CIA Director John Brennan told Circa in an interview Saturday that the United States is working with a number of "Afghan partners, as well as different interlocutor groups, to do everything we can to bring Americans back home."

Pakistan's Haqqani network demands prisoners in exchange for American hostages

WATCH | CIA Director John Brennan on the Haqqani hostages

Brennan walking a fine line

"This is a very, very difficult process," said Brennan.

"It's one that you have to tread very carefully because you want to make sure that those hostages and those American captives stay safe, but at the same time we do everything possible not to reward their captors, but to see if we can bring them home and we will never stop these efforts." 

The Haqqani network's deputy is Sirajuddin Haqqani, who also operates as the military commander of the Taliban. He is asking for the release of his youngest brother, Anas Haqqani, who is being held in a prison in Kabul.

The family appeared disheveled in a video released Monday night by their captors. Caitlan and Joshua both made direct pleas to the U.S. government for their release. Caitlan read from a paper she held in her hands, which officials believe may have been scripted by her captors. 


American hostages make plea to Obama

“We urge the governments on both sides to reach some agreement to allow us freedom,” Caitlan Coleman said.

“Obama, your legacy in leaving office is probably important to you and our lives and these of our children are to us. Please don’t become the next Jimmy Carter - give the offenders something so they, and you, can save face and we can leave the region permanently.”

Since the family's abduction, the Obama administration has tried to negotiate their release to no avail.  

A senior Pakistani official told Circa that a deal brokered in May fell apart after a U.S. drone strike killed Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, then-leader of the Taliban.

"Why would you kill the leader of a group that you were negotiating for release of hostages," the Pakistani official said. "It made no sense." 

The Haqqani network is believed to be holding two other Americans, including a university professor kidnapped in Kabul in August; as well as a Massachusetts resident who was abducted in 2014, according to U.S. officials. 


Follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC

(Sajid Khan contributed to this report from Pakistan) 

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