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Hostage rescue brings reprieve for Coleman family


The memories of Caitlan Coleman running around the farmland, sewing clothes or just hanging out with her parents watching movies often seemed like dreams to her father and mother, James and Lynda Coleman. They spent the past five years wondering if they would ever see their daughter again.

The nightmares of her captivity in the badlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan by Taliban militants, and members of the Haqqani network, were sometimes too much to bear, they said in interviews conducted by Circa over the last year. They thought about Caitlan's grandchildren born in captivity and her husband Joshua Boyle, who had taken their daughter on a hiking adventure that began in Russia in 2012 and somehow ended up in their capture in Afghanistan.

Those thoughts would haunt them and turn their peaceful Pennsylvania home into what James Coleman described as a control center. It is where he would monitor numerous cell phones, media reports and continuously check emails for any sign of his daughter from his small kitchen table, while cigarettes piled up in his ashtray.

Now those nightmares are almost over.

Caitlan Coleman's family released

On Wednesday night, the Pakistani Army and its intelligence arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency -- along with the assistance of the United States federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies -- made a daring rescue and successfully freed Caitlan, her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle, and their three children from Taliban militants.

Julia Mason, a spokeswoman with the State Department, told Circa "we are pleased to see that Caitlan Coleman and her family have been freed."

Mason noted that the United States is "grateful for the assistance of the Government of Pakistan in gaining the family’s freedom. Their assistance was crucial to freeing this family."

A Pakistani official told Circa late Thursday that Caitlan and the children were immediately taken to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, while Joshua Boyle was taken to the Canadian Embassy.

For the United States and Pakistan, the release of the hostages was a positive step in helping building a rocky relationship between the two countries. Earlier this year, when Trump announced his administration's plans to send more troops to Afghanistan, he also put Pakistan on notice saying, " we have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars, at the same time they are housing the same terrorists that we are fighting,” he noted. “That will have to change.”

On Thursday, it appeared that Pakistan's intervention to free the hostages was the first big step in making that change.

"This is a positive moment for our country's relationship with Pakistan," said Trump. "The Pakistani government's cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America's wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region. We hope to see this type of cooperation and teamwork in helping secure the release of remaining hostages and in our future joint counter-terrorism operations."

Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Aziz Chaudhry said in a statement that "Pakistani security forces acted within hours on the basis of actionable intelligence on the hostages' shifting across to Pakistan."

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said in a statement Thursday, that the government of Canada "has been actively engaged with the governments of the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan and we thank them for their efforts, which have resulted in the release" of the family.

Caitlan's parent's resilient fight for their daughter

"Caity," as her parents call her, was taken hostage by the Taliban in 2012, along with her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, while on their months long journey through Central Asia that culminated in their kidnapping in Afghanistan, in the fall of that year.

Mostly mystery surrounds the time Caitlan and Joshua were held captive.

"Only Caity will be able to tell us what it was like and how she survived all those years," her mom, Lynda said in an interview last year. "And that will only be when she's ready."

Every once in awhile the Coleman's would receive letters and proof of life videos that made them feel hopeful and helpless at the same time. It was those small glimmers into their daughters life that gave them the resilience to keep fighting for her freedom.

And in those letters from their daughter and videos they also would discover that Caitlan had delivered given birth to two boys in captivity and now news reports suggest they had a third, a baby girl delivered this summer.

At the time of her capture by Taliban militants, she was pregnant with their first child and gave birth to their oldest son in 2013. And in letters, which were shared by the Coleman family with Circa, Joshua revealed how they hid the pregnancy as best they could from their captures and delivered their child in the darkness of night with only a small flashlight to illuminate the darkness.

The Coleman's had no idea Caitlan was already pregnant when she left with Joshua on the morning of July 4, 2012.

Her parents told Circa, that they desperately searched her room for clues after they had been told she was captured and that's when they discovered an ultrasound in one of Caitlan's boxes.

For the last five years Lynda would buy gifts for her grandchildren - storing them in a closet in their modest Pennsylvania farmhouse.

"When (Caitlan) was little she had such a generous heart and she would go around on her own by herself if she heard someone was in need she would go house to house and ask for money to help them," said Lynda in an interview last year.

Lynda and James told Circa all they wanted was to have their family back and there wasn't a time they didn't believe she would return home with the grandchildren.

Circa has followed their story over the past year and interviewed the family on numerous occasions but could not immediately reach them after the announcement of their daughter's release.

Last year, the Coleman's posted a video plea on Circa asking the Taliban, and the Haqqani network, to free their daughter and her family.

Watch the Full Coleman Video Plea here

Mystery surrounds Coleman release

At a news conference Thursday, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told reporters, “we had arrangements to transport them back to the United States, or to Canada, anywhere they wanted to go. They’ve been essentially living in a hole for five years.” He added that the family is receiving both medical and psychological treatment.

Also on Thursday, stories surfaced that Joshua Boyle, Caitlan's husband would not board the U.S. plane. Boyle's parents, Linda and Patrick Boyle, released a video Thursday saying they had spoken with their son and that the family was in good health.

Boyle’s parents also said that their son did not want to go to Bagram Air Base, but instead wanted to go to the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad, and get on a flight with his family to Canada, apparently fearing the U.S. would take him into custody, according to a Canadian news outlet.

Mason, the State Department spokeswoman, said "out of respect for the family’s privacy and for their security, we will not comment on their current condition or location."

Related Stories:
Caitlan Coleman and her family have been released by the Taliban
Taliban militants threaten to kidnap more American hostages they believe are CIA
An American woman held by Taliban in Afghanistan makes new videotaped plea for freedom

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