A Canadian man who was recently rescued from Taliban-tied kidnappers thought his captors were joking when they told him Donald Trump is president.
“It didn’t enter my mind that he was being serious,” Joshua Boyle, who was rescued alongside his wife and three children in Pakistan after five years imprisonment, told the Toronto Star.
Mr Boyle was surprised to hear that Mr Trump had been elected even before he and his wife were forced to film a “proof-of-life” video that was sent to investigators and their family.
The Canadian was kidnapped by the Haqqani network in the summer of 2012 along his American wife, Caitlan Coleman. Ms Coleman was pregnant with their first child when they were captured, and the couple had two other children while in captivity.
The couple were hiking in Afghanistan at the time, on a backpacking trip that took them on an ambitious track from Russia, through several central Asian countries, and into Afghanistan. The couple, who have been described as avid adventurists, had acknowledged in emails to family that they knew the trip was dangerous.
They were rescued last week after a dramatic car chase near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. After US drones hovering near the structures where they were being held, their captors stuffed the couple and their children into the trunk of a car to move them.
After that vehicle refused to stop for Pakistani security officials, a chase ensued until the security forces were able to shoot out the tires of the vehicle. The captors in the vehicle were all killed during the shooting.
The details that have emerged from their time in captivity are harrowing.
After their abduction, the Haqqani-network members reportedly repeatedly raped Ms Coleman, and killed one of their infant children. The birth of a fourth child was not previously known before the rescue.
After arriving home in Canada, Mr Boyle told reporters that his children were experiencing many luxuries of the western world for the first time. They had never seen a toilet before, and had used buckets all their lives. They’d never seen real doors, he said, aside from the kind that slam in your face to lock you in. When they landed at each airport, the children asked hopefully if they were their new home, he said.
But, Mr Boyle has also refused to praise the US, and its foreign policy. He reportedly refused to border a US plane headed toward an American base where abuse of prisoners has been alleged. He has also said that the State Department does not have the same objectives as he, personally, does.
The US government says that several other Americans are still being held in custody by militant groups in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
They include Kevin King, 60, a teacher at American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, who was abducted in August of last year. Paul Overby, an author in his 70s, also disappeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2014.