The Pakistani military has rescued a U.S. citizen and her family from captivity by a group associated with the Taliban. The family reportedly refused to be transported to the U.S. by military aircraft and will instead take a commercial flight to Canada.
On Oct. 12, it was disclosed that the Pakistani military had conducted an operation to free Pennsylvania-born Caitlan Coleman, Canadian citizen Joshua Boyle and their three children from the custody of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated group that had also held Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
In 2012, Coleman and Boyle were kidnapped by the Haqqani network while they were hiking in Afghanistan during a tour of Central Asia. Coleman gave birth to three children during her and her husband's five years in captivity.
Pakistani authorities disclosed that they deployed military personnel to their border to intercept the family and their kidnappers based on information provided by U.S. intelligence. The family was being transported in a vehicle driven by members of the Haqqani network.
"The vehicle was immobilized with sharpshooting," Pakistani Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor told NBC News. "We destroyed their tires. The hostages remained inside the vehicle. The driver and an accomplice managed to escape to a nearby refugee camp. There is a search operation underway for them right now."
Ghafoor added: "We moved the hostages via helicopter to Islamabad. They were then handed over to U.S. authorities."
U.S. officials planned to fly the family back to America aboard a C-130, but Boyle reportedly refused to board the aircraft. A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Boyle was allegedly concerned that he would be taken into custody because he was formerly married to Zaynab Khadr, a Canadian citizen whose brother, Omar Khadr, was formerly held in Guantanamo Bay for associations with Al Qaeda.
U.S. officials reportedly do not believe that Boyle and Coleman were kidnapped because of his association with Khadr.
The family reportedly asked U.S. officials to transport them to the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad, from where they could take a commercial flight back to Canada.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly stated during a news conference that the U.S. had offered to fly the family "to the United States, or to Canada, anywhere they wanted to go."
President Donald Trump released a statement praising the Pakistani government's operation to free Coleman, Boyle and their children.
"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," Trump said. "We hope to see this type of cooperation and teamwork in helping secure the release of remaining hostages and in our future joint counterterrorism operations."
Coleman's parents, Jim and Lyn Coleman, declined to speak to the press but left a note on their home residence describing the rescue as "joyful news."
Boyle's father, Patrick Boyle, disclosed during an interview that he had already spoken with his newly freed son.
"Josh said he was doing pretty well for someone who has spent the last five years in an underground prison," Boyle told the Toronto Star.