KABUL — Taliban captors who held American Caitlan Coleman and her family for five years killed an infant daughter and allowed Coleman to be raped by a guard, her husband told reporters in Canada late Friday.
Joshua Boyle’s revelation, which authorities have not confirmed, added another layer to a story with nearly as many questions as answers after the couple and their three children were rescued Wednesday when their Haqqani network captors took them across the Afghan border into Pakistan.
Reading from a statement after the family arrived in Toronto, Boyle, a Canadian citizen, made his allegations with a mostly calm voice, declining to elaborate.
“The stupidity and the evil of the Haqqani network in the kidnapping of a pilgrim . . . was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter,” Boyle said, according to reports.
“And the stupidity and evil of the subsequent rape of my wife, not as a lone action, but by one guard, but assisted by the captain of the guard and supervised by the commandant,” he said.
Pakistani officials would not comment on the allegations, and a U.S. State Department official did not immediately comment Saturday. A Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan did not return messages seeking comment.
But the Haqqani group, which operates as a criminal network and plays a leadership role in the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, is known for its cruelty toward its captives, analysts in Afghanistan say.
“Generally, they don’t treat prisoners humanely,” said Hamed Daqeeq, a former Afghan government official who is now a political analyst in Kabul. In the past, freed prisoners “spoke of being tortured and beaten badly by the group,” he said.
Coleman and Boyle were abducted in October 2012 while traveling in a remote area of Afghanistan outside Kabul.
Boyle was previously married to the sister of Omar Khadr, once the youngest detainee at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay after he pleaded guilty to killing a U.S. Special Forces medic.
He said he was in Afghanistan with Coleman to help villagers “who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where no NGO, no aid worker and no government has ever successfully been able to bring the necessary help.”
At the time, Coleman was pregnant. She gave birth to all of her children while in captivity. Before the new allegations, the couple was believed to have three children, who were all rescued with their parents in a Pakistani raid that was based on a tip by U.S. intelligence officials.
U.S. officials in recent months had suspected that Boyle, Coleman and their children were being held inside Afghanistan, though there was never enough information to locate them in “real time,” said a former U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.
The couple and their children were being spirited across the border into Pakistan when U.S. officials appear to have learned about their whereabouts and passed on the intelligence to Pakistani officials, who carried out the rescue.
The operation appeared to have unfolded quickly and ended with what some described as a dangerous raid, a shootout and a captor’s final, terrifying threat to “kill the hostage.” Boyle told his parents that he, his wife and their children were intercepted by Pakistani forces while being transported in the back or trunk of their captors’ car and that some of his captors were killed. He suffered only a shrapnel wound, his family said.
U.S. officials did not confirm those details.
In Islamabad Saturday, Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesman of the Pakistani army, said the rescue effort began after a U.S. diplomat informed Pakistani officials that the family was being moved.
The rescuers fired at the vehicle tires and cordoned the one that was carrying the family, he said.
“Our first priority was that the captives are brought out safely, we wanted to isolate the terrorists and captives, and we wanted to come between the terrorists and hostages, which we did, so that the captives remain safe,” Ghafoor said.
He did not address Boyle’s rape and murder allegations.
A U.S. military official said that a military hostage team had flown to Pakistan Wednesday prepared to fly the family out. The team did a preliminary health assessment and had a transport plane ready to go, but sometime after daybreak Thursday, as the family members were walking to the plane, Boyle said he did not want to board, the official said.
They were instead flown to Toronto, where, according to reports, Boyle described how one child was malnourished and had to be force-fed by their Pakistani rescuers.
He called on the Afghan government to bring the Haqqani network to justice.
“God willing, this litany of stupidity will be the epitaph of the Haqqani network,” Boyle said.