A Canadian man who was held hostage with his family in Afghanistan for five years, opened up about life after captivity and revealed he was surprised to learn Donald Trump was the president of the United States.
Joshua Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman and their three children were rescued Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network, on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan.
After being shut out from the world by the terrorists, Boyle told the Toronto Star he was surprised to learn from his captors that Trump was elected president. Boyle said he learned of Trump’s election before filming a “proof-of-life” video.
“It didn’t enter my mind that [his captor] was being serious,” Boyle told the Toronto Star.
Boyle explained to The Associated Press in an email interview why he and wife had their children while being held hostage.
“We’re sitting as hostages with a lot of time on our hands,” Boyle told The Associated Press in an email Monday. “We always wanted as many as possible, and we didn’t want to waste time. Cait’s in her 30s, the clock is ticking.”
“Hey, let’s make the best of this and at least go home with a larger start on our dream family,” Boyle said.
Boyle said the kids are now 4, 2 and “somewhere around 6 months.”
“Honestly we’ve always planned to have a family of 5, 10, 12 children … We’re Irish, haha,” he wrote.
Coleman was pregnant at the time of their abduction and had the children while she was held hostage.
Boyle said after landing at Toronto’s airport Friday that the Haqqani network killed their infant daughter and raped his wife during the years they were held.
The Taliban claimed in a statement Sunday that it was a miscarriage.
Boyle, who returned to his parents’ home in Smiths Falls, Ontario, called the residence “the first true home” that his children have ever known.
Boyle told the Toronto Star that his son Jonah, 4, was so excited to be in a new place with toys that it took him hours to fall asleep.
“Last night he (Jonah) wouldn’t close his eyes because he was so excited and he just wanted to sit on his pile of toys with a gigantic smile on his face,” Boyle said. “It took him about three hours to fall asleep, and it wasn’t three hours of panic. It was three hours where he just wanted to really, really cherish this gigantic rabbit and these plastic Lego blocks and these toys, and he wanted to sit there and bask in being ‘no bandi’ (hostages) after all of this time.”
Boyle said his middle child, Noah, was having a hard time adjusting to his new freedom.
“[Noah’s] not having a temper tantrum; it’s that he saw the color of orange and orange scares him, or that he saw a screwdriver and screwdrivers scare him. Boots scare him,” Boyle said.
When police came to the house on Saturday, Boyle said his son became upset because the officers wore boots.
“He’s not scared of [police officers,] specifically. He’s scared of the boots,” Boyle said. “Because the only people he has seen wear boots are people who are coming in to kick you.”
Boyle’s wife, Coleman, has remained silent since being freed.
Boyle said in an earlier statement that he had gone to Afghanistan with his pregnant wife 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.”
Boyle was once briefly married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior al-Qaida financier who had contacts with Usama bin Laden.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.