“I was in Pakistan”; Caitlan Coleman breaks silence

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Tells ordeal in captivity, forced abortion, disputes official account of her rescue in Pakistan. “We were not crossing into Pakistan that day,” refutes claims made by Islamabad and Washington that they were rescued on Oct 11 after crossing the border are false

Nation special report

Much has been claimed in regards to military rescue operation but the hostage American/Canadian couple have refuted many stories. Disputing claims about her rescue, the recently recovered American citizenCaitlan Coleman has said that she was in Pakistan for at least a year before she was “rescued” by Pakistan Army in an operation near the Pak-Afghan border earlier this month.

Caitlan Coleman, 31, with her months-old daughter, spoke to the Star on Monday to dispute statements made about her family’s captivity in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In a video released by Pakistan’s military that was filmed before he left the country and returned to Canada, Boyle recounted a harrowing firefight during a raid by Pakistani security forces that freed the family.

‘A major comes over to me while I still have blood on me. The street is chaos and he says to me, “In the American media they say that we support the Haqqani network and that we make it possible. Today you have seen the truth. Did we not put bullets in those bastards?”‘ Boyle recalled, appearing beside his wife and children in the video.

‘And so I can say to you I did see the truth, and the truth was that car was riddled with bullets. The ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) and the army got between the criminals and the car to make sure the prisoners were safe and my family was safe. They put them to flight and they ran like cowards. This is proof enough to me the Pakistanis are doing everything to their utmost.’

Boyle called those that held them captive ‘pagan’ and not people of faith.

In this file image from video released by Taliban Media in December 2016, Caitlan Coleman talks in the video while her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle holds their two children.

He also said that in the area of Afghanistan where they had been held he did not see the presence of soldiers or any government control. ‘Some areas are certainly controlled by criminals, and some areas are completely uncontrolled,’ he said.

Boyle, his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three children were rescued Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted by the extremist network while in Afghanistan as part of a backpacking trip.

Coleman was pregnant at the time and had four children in captivity.

While speaking to the Toronto Star in her first interview since her recovery, Coleman said: “Right now, everybody’s shunting blame and making claims. Pakistan says no, they were never in Pakistan until the end. The US says, no they were always in Pakistan; it was Pakistan’s responsibility. But neither of those are true.”

She also said that she is certain that they were held in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. “We were not crossing into Pakistan that day. We had been in Pakistan for more than a year at that point.”

Coleman, an American national, revealed in the interview — published on Monday — that the couple were moved to Pakistan immediately after being kidnapped in Afghanistan. “They first took us out of Afghanistan; it was several days’ drive,” said Coleman, who still wears a hijab after being released. She refused to comment on whether the couple have converted to Islam.

She said that her kidnappers took them to Miramshah in North Waziristan where they were kept for almost a year, adding that they knew where they were because her husband, Joshua Boyle, could understand some Farsi.”It was very bad. My husband and I were separated at that time. He wasn’t allowed to see Najaeshi or spend any time with us.”

Najaeshi Jonah is their oldest son. “Then we were moved to the north of Miramshah, to the house of a man who said he was called Mahmoud. He was very nice to Najaeshi and would provide us with amenities [that] we wouldn’t have otherwise,” she told the newspaper. “He would take Najaeshi out to get him sunlight and nobody else did that at any other point.”

She does not exactly remember the events around her rescue but does recall a gun battle while she was in the trunk of a car.  “Our first fear — why we were not poking our heads up and yelling for help — was that it was another gang trying to kidnap us. Possibly just part of the Haqqani network fighting with another part. They’re all just bandits,” she said about her rescue.

“You’re a prisoner for so long, you’re so suspicious. I was still thinking we don’t know these people, we don’t know where they’re taking us.”

Of her reaction on realising it was the Pakistani forces and not another group of captors, she said: “I think I was mostly just in shock.”

While revealing details of the rescue, Pakistan Army had said that the family had been moved from Afghanistan into Pakistan the day the operation took place, not earlier.

Captors killed child!

Backing her husband’s earlier claims of Coleman being raped in captivity and the forced abortion of their child, she said that the assault on her happened because they wanted the couple to stop contacting people who were not their guards or captors.

The Taliban had refuted the claims, saying that the child had died naturally and that the woman had not been raped in captivity.

They named their unborn child “Martyr”, she said, who was killed because the captors were angry at Boyle for not joining them. They killed the child using using high amounts of estrogen in their food and boasted of what they had done, she told the daily.

Her next two pregnancies were kept secret and the babies were delivered by Boyle using a flashlight.”We had a pen they didn’t know about and we were taking little scraps of paper and trying to hand out notes to anyone and everyone that wasn’t one of the guards or commanders involved in killing Martyr,” she said regarding the alleged assault against her. “But then they took us, separated us, and beat us and that was when the assault on me happened because they wanted us to stop.”

Naming houses

The couple and their children were frequently moved between Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Coleman. They were usually drugged and kept in the trunk whenever they were moved, she said.

From their house north of Miramshah, they were then taken to Spin Ghar in Afghanistan. Coleman also shared lighter moments they had in captivity, including naming the places they were kept in. They called one “Cat Hotel” because it looked like a hotel to them. She claimed they could see the Pak-Afghan border from there. The kidnappers acquired a Pakistani-styled “jingle truck” from there, told Coleman, and moved them to an area between Kohat and Bannu.

Their last “home” was named “Dar Al Musa”, she said. “Outside everyday they were doing some training or something was going on, and some guy was shouting and we laughed because whoever Musa was, he was not doing a good job,” she said.

“He was always yelling, ‘No, no, no, Musa Musa.'”

They were there since November 2016, she said, and were then transferred to the “Mud House” just two days before their recovery.

Children in captivity

Speaking on the couple’s decision to have two children in captivity, she said that, among other things, she wanted a large family and they did not know when they would be released.

“It was a decision we made. We did think about it […] it’s difficult to explain all the reasons, but, for me, a large part was the fact that it has always been important to me to have a large family,” she said.

“This took our life away from us — this captivity with no end in sight. And so I felt that it was our best choice at that time. We didn’t know if we would have that opportunity when we came back. We didn’t know how long it would be. It was already unprecedented, so we couldn’t say, ‘Oh, we’ll only be here a year or six months.'”