An American woman, her Canadian husband, and their never-before-seen children have appeared in a Taliban propaganda video that the State Department calls “despicable.”
Caitlan Coleman and her husband Joshua Boyle were hiking in Afghanistan in 2012 when they were kidnapped by members of the notorious Haqqani family network. Caitlan was pregnant with their first child at the time. They've since had another baby in captivity. On the video, Caitlan calls the two toddlers her “surviving children.”
ABC News reports that they are believed to be held in Pakistan.
The video, which opens with Caitlan reading from a script, calls on President Obama to not “be like Jimmy Carter” and fail in freeing them.
But they also had a message for the incoming Trump administration:
“Donald Trump [...] They want money, power, friends. You must give them these things before progress can be made. A five-year hostage taking is too long and indicates failure on every side. Believe us, we have tried to explain the irony and sin to these men but to no avail. We need you and the government to step up and do us a favor here and solve our problems.”
In addition to the “money, power, friends” comment, the family's captors added, for the first time, a specific ransom request, calling for the release of Taliban members being held in Kabul.
Indeed, as ABC News reports, Caitlan's parents, Jim and Lyn Coleman of Pennsylvania, are hoping that they get a Christmas miracle and that Donald Trump can pull off one of his 'deals' to get their daughter, her husband, and their grandchildren home:
Jim and Lyn Coleman are lamenting the sad milestone of their daughter Caitlan, 31, missing her fifth Christmas back home with them in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, this year. Instead, she’ll be spending it in captivity somewhere in Pakistan with her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle and the couple's two toddler sons – all hostages of a Taliban faction.
“I do believe that either the President will get her home before he leaves or will set in motion a process that the next president can do it,” Jim Coleman said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Brian Ross for ABC's “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.
The Colemans were thrilled to get a look at the grandchildren they've never seen.
But State Department spokesman John Kirby told NBC News that using the children was a “despicable” act:
“It's obviously reprehensible to hold them in the first place, let's put that aside, they need to be released period,” Kirby said at the State Department briefing Tuesday afternoon. “But to include children in the video is specifically despicable.”
Caitlan calls their ordeal a “Kafkaesque nightmare” and begged the U.S. government to “just give them something, so that they can save face and we can leave the region permanently.”
The same sect that holds the Coleman-Boyle family is the one known to have captured and released Bowe Bergdahl.
Cryptically, Boyle said on the video that, contrary to the government's belief, they can't escape from their captors:
“And I'm sure you think that our family could get out of this if we wanted and I can only promise you that we can't. You, like us, probably underestimate the arrogant ignorance that pervades these people and don't understand that we're dealing with the people who think America killed all the monkeys in their country and that our drones listen to them sleep at night.”
Caitlan's parents say they hope Trump can use his business negotiation skills to get their family back home. They told ABC News that their hope comes and goes:
“Every morning I get up and I think, 'This might be the day that I get the phone call.' And it's Caity's released or I hear her voice. I guess my hopes are very low because it's been so long,” the Pennsylvania grandmother told ABC News.
“I know she has to come back... but I'm not sure I'm ever gonna see her again. I'm not sure I'm ever gonna see my grandchildren. So it's gotten very, very difficult for me.”
This year, the family says they don't even plan to put up a Christmas tree.