Is there more to the story?
(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
Joshua Boyle was offered a position within the Taliban-linked network that held him and his family for five years and at one point rebelled against and planned to kill his captors, he claims.
This information came to light in exclusive correspondence Boyle sent to the Sun in the weeks following his return, shedding light on his experiences with his captors as well as his personal worldview.
Boyle and his wife Caitlan Coleman were kidnapped in 2012 and held hostage by the Haqqani Network (HN), an offshoot of the Taliban, while travelling in Afghanistan. They were held captive for five years, during which time they had three children.
Boyle’s story has recently taken a new twist: the former hostage now faces fifteen charges, among them eight counts of assault, two counts of sexual assault, two of unlawful confinement and one count of administering a noxious substance. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
However, before his latest troubles became public, Boyle spent a fair amount of time speaking with media outlets including the Sun about his captivity in Afghanistan.
“My problem with the Haqqani Network pre-date my capture,” wrote Boyle, rejecting the idea that this terrorist group is made up of devout Islamists.
“It’s not about ideology for the HN, they’re just ghetto trash gangbangers, drug dealers, carjackers who realize they can throw on a black turban, memorise (sic) the Quran,” added Boyle.
“Abu Hajjar, the commander whom I speak of, only knew Surah al-Asr and Surah al-Kauthar, that’s a total of six sentences,” said Boyle, referring to sections of the Quran.
“They’re just religious hypocrites, criminal miscreants and warmongers,” he said of his disillusionment and disappointment with this terrorist cell.
Boyle told the Sun that HN tried to recruit him, and offered him a position within their organization – an invitation Boyle claims to have rejected.
“And that’s why I laughed and informed them I’d rather be beheaded than join their group, despite four repeated offers/demands that I had to join them … culminating in the death of my daughter.”
Boyle says that his wife was the victim of a forced abortion while in captivity, a war crime under international law, an allegation the Taliban denied in a rare public rebuttal to a western media news story.
“From that point forward, it was clear we were at war and there were no more attempts to recruit; I imagine a three-day prison uprising in which we gained control of a portion of the compound and held our own with knives against their Kalashnikovs probably enforced the idea that I wasn’t just being coy, I really was willing to kill them,” said Boyle.
Boyle sent twelve emails and four text messages to the Sun between Oct. 28 and Dec. 20. Some came with the subject line “off the record.” But this request was never confirmed or agreed to by the Sun. The correspondence was initiated by Boyle and not in response to any interview request.
He requested that the so-called prison uprising be off the record, stating that, “things like the prison uprising are scheduled to be on the record in the public domain at a specific point.” He did not further elaborate.
Based on the lack of a confidentiality agreement and the significant public interest and questions around the Boyle case the Sun decided to publish his emails.
“I know you probably have a bias that I’m foaming at the mouth, or crazy, cunning sociopath or whatever it is that you’ve imagined me to be,” wrote Boyle in an email on Oct. 28. “(I) really don’t care what the media thinks about me,” he said.
Boyle encouraged the Sun to reach out to his wife for an interview, a request she ignored. Upon connecting on Facebook, however, it could be seen that Coleman was involved in a group called “Toronto Muslim Homeschoolers.”
When asked if Boyle had converted to Islam, he refused to answer, stating only “I still identify as a pacifist.”
When asked what Boyle discussed in his now controversial meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and who set up the meeting, Boyle again refused to explain.
“I’d love to gossip more about Trudeau, but unfortunately I’m a stickler for journalistic integrity; same reason the CBC is actually blacklisted from the family.”
Boyle’s eccentric media appearances, his self-aggrandizing statements and his style of grooming resembling a Taliban tribesman, all beg the question of why Boyle would bring his pregnant wife into the Taliban-held region of Afghanistan in the first place.
Throughout his emails, Boyle refused to discuss his motivations for travelling to Afghanistan, preferring to discuss his own views on the Middle East as well as the death of his unborn child.
“It is indeed classified as a Crime Against Humanity, even by Canada … which will bring us to an interesting Chapter II in the Boyle Story,” he said.
Boyle stated that any news reports about his personal characteristics or religious conversion “just detract from the real story – war crimes; murder, in the name of Jihad.”
“Not a bad title for the movie version, heh,” said Boyle.