Navy SEALs were ready if Pakistan failed to free US-Canadian hostage family: report

Published: October 19, 2017
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A still image from a video posted by the Taliban on social media on December 19, 2016 shows American Caitlan Coleman (L) speaking next to her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle and their two sons.  PHOTO: REUTERS

A still image from a video posted by the Taliban on social media on December 19, 2016 shows American Caitlan Coleman (L) speaking next to her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle and their two sons. PHOTO: REUTERS

The US was ready to mount a raid into Pakistan territory if the latter failed to agree to recover a kidnapped Canadian-American family.

According to a story in the The New York Times, US Ambassador David Hale was tasked with getting Pakistan to agree to recover the family and resolve this issue, lest the US intervene with a Navy SEAL operation similar to the one conducted in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011.

In addition, failure to act from Pakistan’s side would also add to the American belief that Pakistan is a safe haven for the Taliban linked Haqqani network responsible for the kidnapping.

Pakistani officials acted immediately and with the help of the American intelligence, they were able to locate the car and rescue the family after an exchange of fire. The recovered captives included Caitlan Coleman, 31, Joshua Boyle, 34 and their three children.

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This rescue operation brought to the end, the intense efforts made by the American intelligence to locate the couple, who had been taken hostage in 2012.

The officials from President Donald Trump’s administration placed this operation as a feather in Pakistan’s cap. “This is a positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan,” said a statement from Trump.

In January 2016, with Qatar’s help, US thought that they had struck a deal with the Haqqanis, to release hostages. However, they only released Colin Rutherford, a Canadian, and despite hoping that Caitlan will be released, the Haqqanis freed no one else. American officials acknowledged that communication with the network had become botched, while a drone strike that killed a Taliban leader added more setbacks to the hostage rescue situation.

There were no hostages released after Rutherford, and the militants ended up kidnapping two men- Timothy Weeks and Kevin King, of Australian and American nationalities respectively.

However last month, a CIA drone was positioned over a Haqqani camp in the Kurram Valley, close to the Pak-Afghan border, spotted a woman that they believed was Caitlan.

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Although Navy Seal Team 6 started rehearsing for the operation, therisky raid was called off, as it could not be ascertained if the woman in the grainy pictures was Caitlan or not. There were also concerns about the difficult terrain and about the moonlit sky, as it was too bright to conduct a raid in the night.

On October 11, the Haqqanis decided to move the family and headed towards Kohat and had no action been taken at this point, it would be a while before the family was located again.

It was decided that if the Pakistani Government did not cooperate, to rescue the family, only then will be the Naval SEALs sent in.

However, Pakistan acted quickly and intercepted the vehicle that had Caitlan and her family. Although Pakistan’s security officials were able to destroy the tires of the vehicle, the captors managed to flee.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • James
    Oct 19, 2017 - 2:16AM

    Was Navy Seals sleeping for 5 years or did they help and shelter the very same terrorists which are against the humanity. We gave them billions and billions dollars of food supplies and they are nurshing terrorists in pakistan who crossover into our country. Pak army must go deep inside to distroy their terriorists groming cells specially the IS. World must take it serious. They are housing the same terrorists which are threat to the world. Recommend

  • Kamran
    Oct 19, 2017 - 3:01AM

    US Navy Seals strike fear in the hearts of its enemies with the motto “Train for War, Fight to Win, Defeat our Nation’s Enemies at anytime and anyplace” It is great that the Pakistan Army was able to move first and rescue the hostages. If the US Navy Seals would have acted, India would surely try and use the incident to make Pakistan’s defenses look weak.Recommend

  • Classic
    Oct 19, 2017 - 3:40AM

    And the shoe drops. Anybody surprised?Recommend

  • Sunriver
    Oct 19, 2017 - 3:54AM

    Trump may have issues but he’s gotten both China and Pakistan to do things they have resisted for years. I suspect he speaks a language that they both understand/fear. Pakistan’s military is less concerned about India/TTP than it’s precious image – that gives Trump leverage. Recommend

  • Sunil
    Oct 19, 2017 - 5:41AM

    Pakistan only acts when they are threatened. The US is your master no matter if you have China as your “friend”. China will never take part in any war with Pakistan, other then supply arms.Recommend

  • RK Singh
    Oct 19, 2017 - 6:22AM

    This issue stinks. To me it looks suspiciously like a money making deal. Definitely random is involved. Recommend

  • Freedom
    Oct 19, 2017 - 8:02AM

    Everyone wants to take credit for this raid. Tomorrow Afghan President will claim his forces were ready as a backup should American SEALs failed to free Canadian couple.

    There is something fishy in all this.Recommend

  • shine
    Oct 19, 2017 - 9:15AM

    i think we should have allowed them to come in and conduct the operation and then killed them in friendly fire like they did in salalaRecommend

  • GIScientist
    Oct 19, 2017 - 10:20AM

    Seriously??? Team Six was ready but they let the terrorists to cross into Pakistan, why not deal with them inside Afghan territory?Recommend

  • Syed
    Oct 19, 2017 - 10:55AM

    Excellent PR coverage to hide your US incompetence in Afghanistan …Clap Clap.
    Where were your SWAT teams for the last 5 years, when US and Canadian citizen going through the ordeal?Recommend

  • Chacha Jee
    Oct 19, 2017 - 11:11AM

    Isn’t it strange? they were only ready to act while hostages brought into Pakistan otherwise SEALs were sleeping when captives were in Afghan side. Recommend

  • singh
    Oct 19, 2017 - 12:48PM

    Double game.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Oct 19, 2017 - 1:42PM

    @Syed:
    They were busy hunting down OBL while someone on radar duty was taking a leak on our Western border.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Oct 19, 2017 - 2:29PM

    They call it a ” No mans land” where only the brave ones operate. The hostages could have been picked up by the seals as well but the retreavel would have been riskear than their operation in abbotabad. Pakstan military is familiar with the terrain and friendlier tribesmen.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Salim
    Oct 19, 2017 - 2:49PM

    @James:
    This was still a mutual exchange. Pakistan helped the US free the hostages, the US zapped Umar Khalid Khurasani in a drone attack in Afghanistan. The overall Pakistani policy remains unchanged, which is Pakistan cooperates only to the extent the US reciprocates. You think only Pakistan has harbored militants? My dear, the US has done exactly the same, harboring anti-Pakistan terrorists in Afghanistan. Do not play the victim card here.Recommend

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