A new video purports to show an American woman and her Canadian husband, who were taken hostage by the Afghan Taliban in 2012, pleading for help from their respective governments and warning that their captors will kill them, their family, and other prisoners, including women and children, unless the Afghan government stops executing Taliban prisoners.
Joshua Boyle from Toronto and his wife, Caitlan Coleman from Pennsylvania, ask the American and Canadian governments to pressure their Afghan counterpart into dropping its policy on executing captured Taliban prisoners.
The video, which marks the third clip to have emerged since the couple were taken captive, was obtained this week by the SITE Intelligence Group. It is the first time either has been seen since 2013.
2)Prisoners plea to Afghan government: “our captors are frightened” of further executions of fighters, are “willing to kill us” for revenge
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) August 30, 2016
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) August 30, 2016
In the video, Boyle says:
We have been told that the Afghan government has executed from among prisoners, they have taken from these men [Taliban], and that recently they hang them [sic] and our captors are terrified of the thought of their own mortality approaching and are saying that they will take reprisals on our family. They will execute us [prisoners], women and children included, if the policies of the Afghan government are not overturned either by the Afghan government or by Canada somehow.
Because of their fear, they are willing to kill us, willing to kill women, to kill children, to kill whomever, in order to get these policies reversed or to take revenge.
I ask if my government can do anything to change the policies of the Afghan government to stop their policy of executing men before these men start executing their prisoners and their family that they’re holding.
Coleman also pleads for her family’s help, urging them to do everything they can for her.
“I know that this must be very terrifying and horrifying for my family to hear that these men are willing to go to these lengths,” she says. “But they are, so if you are willing, if you are able to do anything to help, if you could, please try to help stop this depravity.”
The Taliban has claimed that the video is old, reports Spanish news agency EFE.
“We confirm that these hostages are still with us and that this video was released last year, between 10 [and] 15 months ago,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told EFE.
“We don’t know who has posted it again on social media but it’s absolutely old,” added the spokesman.
Mujahid reportedly indicated that the Taliban has submitted conditions for the release of the hostages to the United States and Canadian government.
The couple had two children in captivity, confirmed the spokesman, reportedly noting “that they are taken care of and not being subjected to physical or mental torture.”
Last November, Coleman’s parents received a letter saying their daughter had given birth to a second child.
Although Mujahid claimed that the hostages are in good health, the couple seemed pale, tired, and had lost a lot of weight.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of State said it was verifying the authenticity of the video.
“We remain concerned, obviously, about the welfare of Caitlan and her family, and we continue to urge for their immediate release on humanitarian grounds,” declared John Kirby, a State Department spokesman.
Also on Tuesday, Michael O’Shaughnessy, a spokesman for Canada’s Global Affairs, acknowledged the government was aware of the latest video, reports Khaama Press (KP).
ABC News learned from anonymous senior counterterrorism officials “that Coleman is being held as a hostage against her will and efforts have been made to secure freedom for the young mom and her kids.”
“The couple was taken hostage by the insurgents in Afghanistan after visiting the country in 2012 by traveling through Russia, the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan,” notes KP.