Who Is Caitlin Coleman? Taliban Group Releases American Woman and Family Kidnapped in Afghanistan Five Years Ago

An American woman and her family were freed on Wednesday from a Taliban-linked group in Afghanistan after an operation conducted by Pakistani forces working off information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Caitlin Coleman and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, were captured by the Haqqani network while hiking in Afghanistan in late 2012. Coleman was pregnant at the time, and the couple have had three children while in captivity. All five of the family members have been rescued. 

The family had been in captivity for a total of five years and one day. 

“Yesterday, the United States government, working in conjunction with the government of Pakistan, secured the release of the Boyle-Coleman family from captivity in Pakistan,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “This is a positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s government said the U.S. had been tracking the family and provided intel on their location, NBC News reports. This information enabled Pakistani forces to cross the border into Afghanistan to rescue the family from terrorist custody. 

The Haqqani network’s leader is the deputy head of the Taliban in Afghanistan. This group was also responsible for kidnapping Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who was held in captivity for five years before being traded for five top Afghan Taliban commanders by the U.S. government. 

Bergdahl was captured after mysteriously disappearing from his unit in Afghanistan and reportedly plans to plead guilty to charges of desertion and misbehavior on Monday. His case is highly controversial.

The Taliban-linked militants released a video of Coleman, Boyle and two of their children in December 2016. In the video, Coleman implored then-President Barack Obama and Trump, who was president-elect at the time, to help her family gain freedom. “Indeed, they threaten to retaliate against our family. Their group will do us harm and punish us. So we ask that you are merciful to their people and, God willing, they will release us,” Coleman said. 

Another American, university professor Kevin King, is believed to be held by the Haqqanis as well. In January, the Taliban released a video in which King and Timothy John Weeks, an Australian professor held with him, pleaded with Trump to negotiate with their captors. “Have mercy on me and get me out,” King said at the time.

Other Americans who have been released from captivity during Trump’s tenure include Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American woman who was imprisoned on child abuse and trafficking charges in Egypt for three years. Hijazi was released in April

Another less successful and tragic example is that of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died several days after being released from captivity in a nonresponsive state in North Korea. 

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