By ANGELO PERSICHILLI (The Hill Times)
Oct. 20, 2017 9:41 AM
“Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person I am, is unconscionable.”
This statement to ABC News comes from Jim Coleman, the father of American Caitlan Coleman, who alongside her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle were kidnapped in Afghanistan some five years ago and freed some two weeks ago.
The dramatic story of Mr. Boyle, his wife, and his three children born in captivity, contains dramatic elements that have almost made the concern expressed by his father in law irrelevant.
I’m happy for the freedom of five human beings and we all must express the strongest condemnation for the violence against women and children.
Still, we must make sure that these principles will not be used to muzzle criticism against all those responsible, in fear of touching sensitive issues. Reaffirming the support for those principles, also means to address the concerns expressed by Mr. Coleman, that is what was Mr. Boyle doing there?
Last week, he said that he was going to help people “who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where no NGO (non-governmental organization), no aid worker and no government [have] ever successfully been able to bring the necessary help.” Did he know something that governments and NGOs didn’t? Did he feel protected for reasons we don’t know? Or did he believe the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom would have protected him from Taliban atrocities?
He says he simply going to help people in need in “enemy” territory. But, why should we believe him?
The statements made in Canada after the release, clearly show that Mr. Boyle was very familiar with the complex intricacies of the territory, the interaction between the ethnic groups involved, and their activities. He felt quite safe and still appears very surprised that something like that happened to him. In one of his numerous press conferences, he asked for justice from the Taliban, the group well-known worldwide for defending human rights and respecting women!
Last week, he even gave to the leadership of this organization, “a final chance to actually try to rectify these crimes against humanity, before we turn to other outlets to seek our justice.” Resorting to the Canadian criminal code to punish the Taliban? This is a clever idea; we should send our judges instead of our soldiers to Afghanistan.
A spokesman for the Taliban has denied all accusations. However, does it mean that punishing the Taliban-linked Haqqani for “barbaric” activity against his family would restore Mr. Boyle’s confidence in the Taliban organization?
Mr. Boyle wants to know what went wrong during his purported humanitarian mission that he considered to be so safe he brought along his very pregnant wife, despite admittedly diving deep into ‘enemy’ territory. I want to know why Mr. Boyle felt safe. Who was supposed to protect him there?
A bit of background on this individual might bring some light into the discussion.
Caitlin Coleman, is the second wife of Mr. Boyle; his first wife was Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of Omar Khadr, a former Canadian Guantanamo Bay detainee accused of killing an American soldier in Afghanistan, and son of a terrorist with close ties to Osama bin Laden. According to some reports, it looks like that Mr. Bin Laden attended to Mr. Boyle’s first wedding.
Some officials have stated that the kidnapping and the link between Mr. Boyle and the Khadr family is only a “horrible coincidence.” I believe it, but the link helps to understand the background in which this dramatic, albeit sordid, story has developed.
During his conversations with media in Canada, Mr. Boyle has been articulate in expressing his thoughts and extensive acknowledgment of the intricacies of the Taliban. So, asserted that he is not stupid, the only unanswered questions are where was he going and what was he going to do?
I doubt we will get these answers. I only hope that we will not get a request for compensation from the Canadian government who didn’t do enough to stop him from going to Afghanistan.
Angelo Persichilli is a former director of communications to former prime minister Stephen Harper, former columnist for Toronto Sun and Toronto Star and former political editor of Corriere Canadese