Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Afghanistan: Update on Pregnant Missing American Woman, 27, Canadian Husband, 29, Since October

As a follow-up to my posting of December 31, entitled "Afghanistan: Pregnant American Woman, Canadian Husband Missing Since October 2012," and according to The Toronto Star, Canadian Joshua Boyle, 29 and his pregnant American wife, Caitlan Coleman, 27, were married in 2011. 

The following year [2012], and although Caitlan was pregnant with the couple's first child, the couple embarked on a search for adventure that led them to Russia, Kazakhstan Tajikistan and eventually to war-torn Afghanistan, where the two hoped to secure employment with a humanitarian agency, albeit difficult, due to Caitlan's condition. 

As mentioned in Monday's posting, the couple had planned to return home in December 2012, but were last heard of in October 2012. 

Subsequently, an unnamed Afghan official claimed that the couple had been kidnapped, although the source offered no details. Reportedly, neither the Taliban or other kidnap gangs in Afghanistan have demanded a ransom for the missing couple or claim to hold them.   

By December, Coleman's parents went public with the couple's disappearance and at some point notified both the US and Canadian embassies in Kabul. Josh Boyle's parents also reportedly sent an email to The Toronto Star on Monday (December 31). 

COMMENT: Unfortunately, there is a twist in Joshua's and Caitlan's disappearance. That is, Boyle is the former husband of Zaynab Khadr, the once outspoken sister of Omar Khadr, who spent a decade in custody in Guantanamo Bay before his transfer to Canadian custody this fall [2012]. 

The marriage between Boyle and Zaynab lasted a year, ending in early 2010. In 2011,  Boyle married Coleman. 

Ostensibly, because of work visa and residence complications, the couple decided to travel together before settling down, first to Central America and later to Central Asia, eventually arriving in  Afghanistan. All the while, Boyle kept THE TORONTO STAR apprised of his travels, occasionally writing about his experiences. 

Eventually, influenced by his interest in human rights issues, Boyle met Zaynab Khadr in 2008, eventually becoming a "spokesperson" for the Khadr Family. In time, Boyle and Zaynab married in 2009 

Strangely, a burglary also seemingly occurred at Boyle's parents' home after Boyle and Khadr married. After their divorce, though, Boyle relocated to New Brunswick, at which point he resumed his travels abroad. 

Interestingly, both parents of Joshua Boyle and Caitlan were unaware of Caitlan's being pregnant or the fact that they were in Afghanistan. Why?  

Caitlan's father, James Coleman, earlier told THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (AP) that they last heard from Josh on October 8. He said he was in an Internet café in what he described as an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan.   

If the couple was in an "unsafe" place in Afghanistan, why was the vulnerable couple there to begin with, unprotected? 

It is a frequent occurrence that the families of missing foreigners in war zones wait far too long to "go public" and notify embassy representatives who may well be able to be help them in locating the missing. 

Unfortunately, in this case, Caitlan is approaching delivery of her new-born even as no one seemingly has seen or heard from the couple in nearly three months.   

We can only hope that the young couple is well and safe, yet the gap of time when they were last seen is not encouraging, particularly considering that few people the couple might encounter would be helpful to the idealistic and naive. 

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.