New Taliban Hostage Video Shows Pennsylvania Woman and Her Children
In a just-released video, a Pennsylvania woman abducted by the Taliban four years ago sits alongside her husband and two sons born in captivity – seen on camera for the first time – begging for the chance to come home.
The woman, 31-year-old Caitlan Coleman of York County, pleads with U.S. government officials to take action in attempting to rescue her and her Canadian husband, 33-year-old Joshua Boyle, who cradles their two young sons in his arms. Coleman was five months pregnant with her first son when she and Boyle were captured in October 2012 in Afghanistan while on a backpacking trip through Central Asia, as Philadelphia magazine reporter Holly Otterbein detailed in a November article. Coleman had her second son in 2015.
Coleman calls her family’s hostage situation a “Kafkaesque nightmare” in the video, which she says was recorded on December 3rd. She and her husband speak frankly about both the U.S. government and their captors.
“We understand both sides hate us and are content to leave us and our two surviving children in these problems,” Coleman says. “But we can only ask and pray that somebody will recognize the atrocities these men carry out against us as so-called retaliation in their ingratitude and hypocrisy. My children have seen their mother defiled.”
Coleman and Boyle have been hostages for four years – just one year less than the longest-kept prisoner of war since the Vietnam War, U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. They couple has begged for the opportunity to return to the country in several videos, in which they both appear a great deal thinner than before their capture by members of the Taliban’s Haqqani network, which largely orchestrates kidnappings for ransom.
“A five-year hostage-taking is too long and indicates failure on every side,” Coleman says in the video. “Believe us, we have tried to explain the irony and sin to these men, but to no avail. We need you and the government to step up and do us a favor here and solve the problems.”
The Taliban reportedly claimed the couple was “in good health” this summer, but the conditions described by Coleman – and the fact that there’s no way to truly know what the couple is experiencing – invites questions. In the video, Coleman asks government officials to “be merciful” to Taliban-affiliated prisoners in Kabul, Afghanistan who so that “God willing they will release us.”
Coleman addresses both President Barack Obama and president-elect Donald Trump when she says that her captors “are not simply going to release our family easily because it is correct. They want money, power, friends – you must give them these things before progress can be made.”
Boyle ends the video with a short appeal to “whichever State Department official has to watch this video,” he says. “We both know the president is not going to see it or the next coming president and that the decision ultimately lies with you.”
Officials from the U.S. State Department reportedly told the Toronto Star that they are reviewing the footage – which is just about all officials said after a video of Coleman was released earlier this summer.
Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.