Haqqani captors killed child, raped wife, Canadian ex-hostage says

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After landing in Canada with his family Friday night, Canadian ex-hostage Joshua Boyle told reporters some frightening news about his family’s ordeal in Afghanistan.

He said the Haqqani network, which held him and his wife captive for five years in Afghanistan, had killed his infant daughter in captivity and raped his wife.

Boyle landed in Canada late Friday with his American wife and three young children.

Caitlan Coleman and Boyle were rescued Wednesday, five years after they had been abducted by the Taliban-linked Haqqani extremist network while in Afghanistan as part of a backpacking trip.

Coleman was pregnant at the time and had four children in captivity.

Government officials said Pakistani forces carried out the rescue mission based on U.S. intelligence information.

The final leg of the family’s journey was an Air Canada flight Friday from London to Toronto.

An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children arrived in Canada Friday night, returning to the West after being held captive by a Taliban-affiliated group for five years.

The family had left Pakistan on a commercial flight after Boyle reportedly balked at taking a U.S. plane out of Pakistan, fearing that his background could land him in the American detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Boyle was previously married to the sister of Omar Khadr, a Canadian man who spent 10 years at Guantanamo Bay after being captured in 2002 in a firefight at an Al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Justice Department said neither Boyle nor Coleman is wanted for any federal crime.

The family landed in Toronto Friday night on an Air Canada flight from London. Coleman, wearing a tan-colored headscarf, sat in the aisle of the business class cabin. She nodded wordlessly when she confirmed her identity to a reporter on board the flight.

In the two seats next to her were her two elder children. In the seat beyond that was Boyle, with their youngest child in his lap. U.S. State Department officials were on the plane with them.

Boyle gave the Associated Press a handwritten statement expressing disagreement with U.S. foreign policy.

“God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination, and to allow that to stagnate, to pursue personal pleasure or comfort while there is still deliberate and organized injustice in the world would be a betrayal of all I believe, and tantamount to sacrilege,” he wrote.

He nodded to one of the State Department officials and said, “Their interests are not my interests.”

He added that one of his children is in poor health and had to be force-fed by their Pakistani rescuers.

The family was able to leave from the plane with their escorts before the rest of the passengers. There was about a 5- to 10-minute delay before everyone else was allowed out.

Coleman, of Stewartstown, Pa., was rescued along with Boyle and their children on Thursday after their captors moved them across the border to Pakistan from Afghanistan. U.S. officials supplied the intelligence used to facilitate the release, Pakistan said.

Shortly before the family landed in Canada Friday night, President Trump tweeted that the U.S. was “starting to develop a much better relationship with Pakistan and its leaders.”

“I want to thank them for their cooperation on many fronts,” Trump added.

U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of ignoring groups like the Haqqani network, which was holding the family. They call the Haqqani group a terrorist organization and have targeted its leaders with drone strikes. But the group also operates like a criminal network. Unlike ISIS, it does not typically execute Western hostages, preferring to ransom them for cash.

The Haqqani network had previously demanded the release of Anas Haqqani, a son of the founder of the group, in exchange for turning over the American-Canadian family. In one of the videos released by their captors, Boyle implored the Afghan government not to execute Taliban prisoners, or he and his wife would be killed.

Coleman and Boyle were kidnapped in October 2012 while on a backpacking trip that took them to Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan. All three of their children were born in captivity.

U.S. officials have said that several other Americans are being held by militant groups in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

They include Kevin King, 60, a teacher at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul who was abducted in August 2016, and Paul Overby, an author in his 70s who had traveled to the region several times but disappeared in eastern Afghanistan in mid-2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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AP PHOTOS: 3 rhino calves survive Indian floods, sent to zoo

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Three rhinoceros calves, rescued during monsoon floods over the past two years at a famed wildlife preserve in India’s northeast, were transported Friday to a zoo as part of a conservation program.

The calves, aged 1to 2, were taken by trucks to the zoo in Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, from the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation near Kaziranga National Park, said Tajas Mariswamy, a regional forest officer.

Injured or orphaned wild animals are treated at the center and returned to their natural habitats or to adopted homes.

The Gauhati Zoo already has eight rhinoceroses.

Every year Kaziranga National Park, which has the world’s largest population of more than 2,500 one-horned rhinoceroses as well as many other species, gets flooded by heavy monsoon rains which force animals to move to higher ground. India’s monsoon season runs from June through September.

S.M. Singh, director of the park, said Friday that during this year’s monsoon 32 rhinos died because of floods.

Forest guards rescued seven rhinos with varying injuries and sent them to the center for recovery and rehabilitation.

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‘Inappropriate’ to ask asylum seekers at Canada border ISIS opinion, minister says

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A questionnaire asking asylum seekers in Canada what they think about ISIS and the Taliban has been scrapped after a minister deemed it “inappropriate.”

The document was used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at a U.S. border crossing in Quebec, according to reports. The queries appeared to specifically target Muslim asylum seekers, as they did not mention any other religions or non-Muslim terrorist groups.

The questionnaire, first published by the Toronto Star, also had more standard fare: country of origin, basic health questions and whether the respondent has friends or family in the U.S. or Canada.

REFUGEES CONTINUE TO CROSS FROM US TO CANADA IN UNPRECEDENTED NUMBERS

But it then asked the asylum seeker’s opinion on ISIS, the Taliban and how they feel about women who do not wear religious garbs, such as the hijab and niqab.

Question 31 on the form reads: “Canada is a very liberal country that believes in freedom of religious practice and equality between men and women. What is your opinion on this subject? How would you feel if your boss was a woman?”

Three men who claimed to be from Sudan and were driven by taxi driver Curtis Seymour, are confronted by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as they prepare to cross illegally the U.S.-Canada border into Hemmingford, Quebec, Canada, March 4, 2017. The men were taken into custody after walking across the U.S.-Canada border. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi           SEARCH "MUSCHI CABBIE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. - RC19055660A0

Three men who claimed to be from Sudan are confronted by Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

 (Reuters)

A spokesperson for the RCMP told the Toronto Star on Wednesday the questions were part of an “interview guide” used by officers in Quebec.

“Due to the high volume of irregular migrants in Quebec, an interview guide was developed as an operation tool to streamline processing and provide consistency in the RCMP’s preliminary risk assessments,” Annie Delisle told the Star.

It’s unclear how long it had been used.

The RCMP didn’t immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.

Two-year-old Evanston, whose family stated they are from Haiti, watches as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer pats down his mother after they crossed the US-Canada border from Champlain, New York into Lacolle, Canada August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC17F4D8DE90

Evanston, whose family stated they are from Haiti, watches as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer pats down his mother.

 (Reuters)

According to the Star, the answers from the questionnaire were entered into RCMP databases and could be shared with the Canada Border Services Agency.

Scott Bradsley, spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, told the Star on Wednesday the use of “the version” of the guide has been suspended by the RCMP.

“The minute we became aware of the interview guide, we were immediately concerned and contacted the RCMP,” he said. “Some of the questions were inappropriate and inconsistent with government policy.”

The children of a woman who told police that she and her family were from Sudan are placed in a vehicle as they are all taken into custody by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers after arriving by taxi and walking across the U.S.-Canada border into Hemmingford, Quebec, Canada February 12, 2017. Picture taken February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi - RC1AEB01C480

The children of a woman who told police that she and her family were from Sudan are placed in a vehicle as they are all taken into custody by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers.

 (Reuters)

Immigration lawyer Clifford McCarten, who obtained a copy of the document from a client seeking refugee status told the Canadian Press that he was “shocked” by the questions.

“If, in fact, this was a local detachment making this decision — which I find a bit hard to believe — then it’s deeply concerning that one of the most, if not the most problematic crisis spot in Canadian immigration and refugee policy right now…doesn’t have a federal strategy for how screening is happening,” he said.

McCarten told the Toronto Star while he was thankful for the quick reaction by Goodale’s office, other questions need to be answered.

“I’m heartened to hear from the leadership that they take this as seriously as we do,” McCarten said. “But what possible purpose could someone’s opinion about female employment or religious head coverings have to bear on an assessment risk?”

He added: “If someone’s religious opinion is sufficient to place them in an RCMP database for potential future monitoring, we need to be concerned about that. If they recognize those questions are inappropriate, then they need to destroy all the information that was gathered.”

Canada has seen a recent influx of refugees crossing into the country from the U.S. in unprecedented numbers.

More than 13,000 people have crossed illegally into Canada this year, according to Canadian government data. That’s more than five times the number intercepted by the RCMP in 2016.

More than 5,700 asylum seekers crossed illegally in August alone, avoiding checkpoints — and the risk of being sent back to America. Most simply walk in, crossing where a rural dead end in New York meets the Canadian border.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com.

Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

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Berlin probe: Xmas market attacker could have been thwarted

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A special investigator appointed by the German state of Berlin says the Tunisian man who carried out last year’s deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin could have been detained months earlier.

Anis Amri, a failed asylum-seeker, killed 12 people in the Dec. 19, 2016, attack that was later claimed by the Islamic State group. Public inquiries and German media have since uncovered a series of mistakes by security agencies in tracking a man who authorities believed had posed a public threat.

Bruno Jost, a former federal prosecutor, said Thursday that Amri could have been held for several months for alleged forgery and other crimes when he was detained in southern Germany on July 30, 2016. But Jost said no police agencies familiar with his case reacted to the arrest.

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Syrian government troops push on into IS stronghold town

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Syrian opposition activists say government troops are pushing deeper into an Islamic State stronghold in the country’s east, the town of Mayadeen.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says clashes with militants intensified in the morning hours on Thursday in the town, as government forces advanced into the western and northern neighborhoods of Mayadeen, which lies on the Euphrates River.

The Observatory says troops were able to cut off the road linking Mayadeen and the town of Boukamal on the border with Iraq.

Opposition activist Mozahem al-Salloum says the fighting is fierce and that it will likely take time to rid Mayadeen of the Islamic State group.

Syrian troops reached Mayadeen on Saturday, after pushing south along the eastern banks of the Euphrates.

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Serb minister reaffirms support for convicted war criminal

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Serbia’s defense minister has reaffirmed his support for a convicted war criminal, denouncing the U.S. ambassador to Belgrade for his critical tweet.

Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin has praised former Gen. Vladimir Lazarevic, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison by a U.N. war crimes tribunal for atrocities committed by Serb troops in Kosovo during the 1999 crackdown against ethnic Albanians.

U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott tweeted that months of work to improve Serbia’s image in the United States can be “undermined with a single statement.” He was referring to Vulin’s public praise of Lazarevic.

Vulin told the pro-government Pink TV on Thursday that “Gen. Lazarevic is an honorable and brave man and there is no army (in the world) that would give him up.”

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The Latest: Hamas, Fatah sign reconciliation deal in Cairo

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The Latest on the reconciliation deal reached by rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Cairo-hosted negotiations (all times local):

2 p.m.

Palestinian negotiators from rival Hamas and Fatah factions have signed a reconciliation deal at a short ceremony in Cairo.

Thursday’s signing came after two days of negotiations in the Egyptian capital on the governing of the Gaza Strip as part of the most serious effort to date to end the 10 year rift between the rival Palestinian groups.

Egyptian chief of intelligence, Khalid Fawzi, presided over the signing as Hamas’ representative, Saleh al-Arouri, and Fatah’s negotiator, Azzam al-Ahmed, signed on.

Al-Ahmed told reporters after the ceremony that there has been “full agreement” to empower a national unity government to assume its full authorities in Gaza.

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8 a.m.

The leader of Hamas says his group has reached an agreement with the rival Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after Egyptian-brokered talks about the terms of control of the Gaza Strip.

Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that details would be announced in Cairo later on Thursday.

The Islamic militant Hamas evicted Abbas’ Western-backed Palestinian Authority from Gaza a decade ago, leading to a crippling territorial and political split among Palestinians. Abbas oversees autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Hamas and Fatah officials held two days of talks in Cairo this week about a Palestinian Authority return to Gaza.

Repeated reconciliation attempts have failed since 2007.

Sticking points include control over the arsenal of Hamas’ armed wing and the fate of thousands of Hamas public servants.

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Family held captive by Taliban-linked group released

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An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three young children have been released after years held captive by a network with ties to the Taliban.

U.S. officials say Pakistan secured the release of Caitlan Coleman and her husband, Canadian Joshua Boyle. The two were abducted five years ago while traveling in Afghanistan and have been held by the Haqqani network.

Coleman was pregnant when she was captured. The couple had three children while in captivity.

The family’s current location, however, was unclear. And officials declined to say when the family planned to return to North America.

The U.S. has criticized Pakistan for failing to aggressively go after the Haqqanis.

A U.S. national security official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing operation, commended Pakistan for their assistance.

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American Caitlan Coleman, family freed from Afghanistan captors

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An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three young children — who had been held captive since 2012 by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network — were freed after an operation involving Pakistani forces, officials announced Thursday.

Caitlan Coleman, 32, was seven months pregnant when she and her husband, Josh Boyle, were abducted.

The operation that set Coleman, Boyle and their children free was undertaken by Pakistani forces based on actionable intelligence provided by U.S. authorities, according to a statement by the ISPR. U.S. intelligence agencies had been tracking the hostages and shared the location with Pakistani counterparts when the hostages shifted into Pakistani territory Wednesday.

President Trump appeared to hint at the news of Coleman’s release during a speech in Coleman’s home state of Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

“Something happened today, where a country that totally disrespected us called with some very, very important news,” Trump said. “And one of my generals came in. They said, ‘You know, I have to tell you, a year ago they would’ve never done that.’ It was a great sign of respect. You’ll probably be hearing about it over the next few days. But this is a country that did not respect us. This is a country that respects us now. The world is starting to respect us again, believe me.”

Coleman and Boyle were last seen in a hostage video in December 2016 pleading for their governments to intervene.

The two vanished after setting off in the summer of 2012 for a journey that took them to Russia, the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan.

Coleman’s parents, Jim and Lyn Coleman, last heard from their son-in-law on Oct. 8, 2012, from an internet cafe in what Josh described as an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan.

The announcement of the release comes a month after President Trump announced a new strategy to deal with Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying the Taliban and other militant groups would no longer find safe haven in Pakistan.

Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford told Congress last week Pakistan would no longer be a sanctuary for terrorism.

In the 2016 YouTube video, Coleman refers to “the Kafkaesque nightmare in which we find ourselves” and urges “governments on both sides” to reach a deal for their freedom. She then adds: “My children have seen their mother defiled.”

Two young children appear in the video with them, and Coleman has told her family that she gave birth to two children in captivity. It was revealed Thursday that Coleman had a third child.

“Please don’t become the next Jimmy Carter,” Coleman says in the 2016 video, reading a prepared statement and making a plea to former President Barack Obama. “Just give the offenders something so they and you can save face so we can leave the region permanently.”

The video came to public attention through the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online. SITE said it was dated Dec. 3.

“We are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of Joshua Boyle, Caitlan Coleman and their young children and call for their unconditional release,” Canadian Global Affairs spokesman Michael O’Shaughnessy said. The State Department also said at the time that it was reviewing the footage.

The Haqqani network has orchestrated a vast array of brutal attacks in Afghanistan in recent years, against both locals and the U.S. military, but unlike their Taliban associates, they are deemed to be more motivated by money than faith.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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About 4,000 civilians remain in IS-held Syrian city of Raqqa

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A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State group says an estimated 4,000 civilians are still trapped in the Syrian city of Raqqa, once the extremists’ de facto capital, and that coalition allies are working out ways to evacuate them.

Col. Ryan Dillon says the Raqqa Civil Council, a local administration of Arab and Kurdish officials, is leading the discussions. It’s not clear with whom the council is speaking inside Raqqa.

Dillon said on Wednesday that the coalition wouldn’t accept a negotiated surrender of up to 400 militants believed holed up in the last part of the city that remains in IS hands.

Dillon says up to 15 militants have surrendered in the past three weeks in Raqqa. The battle for the city is in its final stages.

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