The 'All-American Sweetheart' Kidnapped by the Taliban

And why we never hear about Caitlan Coleman, her husband, and the 2 kids she's had in captivity
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2016 2:21 PM CDT
The 'All-American Sweetheart' Kidnapped by the Taliban
This undated image from video that hasn't been independently verified by the AP, provided by the SITE Intel Group, shows Canadian Joshua Boyle and American Caitlan Coleman, who were kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2012.   (SITE Intel Group via AP)

Caitlan Coleman hailed from Stewartstown, Pa., a "land where bad things aren't supposed to happen." And yet a gripping Philadelphia magazine story describes how something bad did happen to the 26-year-old and her husband—Canadian activist Joshua Boyle, once married to the sister of Gitmo prisoner Omar Khadr—in 2012: They were kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan during a hike across Central Asia. The story by Holly Otterbein (an acquaintance of Coleman's from the same town) documents the disbelief the pair's loved ones felt when they first heard they were missing, the horror when they heard in 2013 the Taliban was holding them captive, and the panic when a series of proof-of-life videos of the two emerged, the third one in August. "We never think that someone we love will end up in a video released by the Taliban," Otterbein writes. But the American public at large is "grotesquely indifferent" to the fate of the couple and their two kids, since born in captivity.

Officials believe the couple were taken hostage near Kabul by a Taliban affiliate known as the "Sopranos of the Afghanistan war" and are now being held in Pakistan. They've been in captivity for four years—just one year shy of the five years US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was held captive. The Taliban told the AP this summer the family was in good health, but in the August video, Coleman and Boyle said they and their kids would be executed unless Kabul officials stop killing Taliban prisoners. Otterbein notes their story has barely made a blip with the media, the US government has remained mostly tight-lipped, and online commentary about the disappeared pair can be cruel: "If we get them back, they would probably travel to Syria for their next little getaway," one poster noted. "Caitlan, like the war in Afghanistan and the fight against the Taliban, has been forgotten," Otterbein writes. (The chilling Philadelphia magazine story is worth the full read.)

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