|US-Canadian hostages held for five years in Pakistan, claims CIA chief|
WASHINGTON: The head of the CIA claimed on Thursday that a US-Canadian couple kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan were held inside neighboring Pakistan for five years before being freed last week.
“We had a great outcome last week when we were able to get back four US citizens who had been held for five years inside of Pakistan,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo told the Foundation for Defence of Democracies think-tank in Washington.
Pompeo’s remarks appeared to be the first time a US official has publicly stated that the family spent their captivity in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s military and government has indicated that US citizen Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle and their children were rescued shortly after entering Pakistan from Afghanistan.
The couple had been kidnapped in 2012 while backpacking in Afghanistan and their children were born in captivity.
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have previously said there was no indication that the hostages had been in Afghanistan in the days before they were freed, contrary to the Pakistani account. The officials said the United States believed the hostages were probably held by the Haqqani network in or near its headquarters in northwestern Pakistan the entire time.
A senior Pakistani security source said last Friday that Pakistani troops and intelligence agents, acting on a US intelligence tip, zeroed in on a vehicle carrying the family as they were being moved into Kurram Agency near Kohat, some 60 km inside Pakistan.
Pakistani officials bristle at US claims Islamabad is not doing enough to tackle militants, particularly the Haqqanis.
After the release of the family, they emphasized the importance of cooperation and intelligence sharing by Washington, which has threatened to cut military aid and other punitive measures against Pakistan.
However, two Taliban sources with knowledge of the family’s captivity said they had been kept in Pakistan in recent years.