Canadian Rescued From Taliban Has Complicated Ties to Osama Bin Laden

A Canadian man rescued from a Taliban-linked group in Afghanistan on Wednesday has complicated ties to the infamous terrorist Osama bin Laden, which helps explain why he's currently refusing to board a flight back to North America despite his newfound freedom. The man, Joshua Boyle, is reportedly concerned he will be arrested upon arrival in his home country. 

Prior to his marriage to Caitlin Coleman, a U.S. citizen, Boyle was married to Zaynab Khadr, whose younger brother Omar Khadr spent a decade as a Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) detainee after being captured by U.S. forces in 2002 while fighting for the Taliban. Their father, Ahmed Said Khadr, helped finance Al-Qaeda, and the family stayed with bin Laden for a brief period when Omar was a young boy. Ahmed died in battle with Pakistani forces in 2003. 

Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured, and was the youngest inmate held at Gitmo. He pleaded guilty to murder for killing a U.S. soldier but later recanted, claiming he'd been abused while incarcerated and coerced into making the plea. He ultimately spent 13 years behind bars (10 in Gitmo, three in a maximum security prison in Canada) before being released in 2015.

The Canadian government recently formally apologized to Khadr for what happened to him and paid him a $7.7 million settlement for the way he was treated while imprisoned. His case has been highly divisive in Canada.

With that said, there are no known links between Boyle and the activities of Khadr and his father other than through his former marriage. A U.S. official in 2014 described all of this as a "horrible coincidence." 

Given this, it's not clear why Boyle might fear arrest in Canada, given its government has taken a forgiving approach to Omar Khadr's case and U.S. officials have dismissed the notion Boyle could have been involved in terrorism. 

Boyle and Coleman were captured by the Haqqani network while hiking in Afghanistan in late 2012 and held for five years and one day. (The leader of the Haqqani network is the deputy head of the Afghan Taliban.) Coleman was pregnant when they were kidnapped and the couple had three children while in captivity. All five family members were rescued by Pakistani forces who were working off of intelligence provided by the U.S.

Join the Discussion