The parents of a Canadian man held hostage in Afghanistan for five years with his wife and three children say the young family is hoping for a fresh start in Canada, and have acknowledged they will need help adjusting to life outside of captivity.
“We’ll hear their explanations for the first time today or tomorrow,” said Patrick Boyle, father of Joshua Boyle, in an interview with Global News on Friday morning.
“We’re their parents, we’re going to forgive them for their foolishness and help them move forward.”
Patrick and his wife, Linda Boyle, have spoken to their son by phone twice since the news broke that Joshua, his American wife Caitlan Coleman, and their children had been freed from a Taliban-linked group called the Haqqani network.
“Right now we’re just thrilled and happy and excited,” said Linda Boyle on Friday. “You play this through your mind so many times … we don’t know what comes next, but we know it’s all good.”
The precise sequence of events leading up to the family’s rescue remains unclear, but the U.S., Canadian and Pakistani governments were all reportedly involved in what is being dubbed “an intelligence-based operation by Pakistan troops and intelligence agencies.”
WATCH: The parents of Joshua Boyle get emotional describing the day they’ve waited for for years – the day he’s returned home to them.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said no ransom was paid, as per Canadian government policy.
According to his parents, Joshua Boyle was animated and anxious to tell his story by phone on Thursday night as his wife and children slept nearby. Both he and Coleman have acknowledged they will need a great deal of support after they land in Canada and attempt to readjust. The children, for one thing, have never known life outside of captivity.
WATCH: Parents of Joshua Boyle describe hearing his voice: ‘It was just Josh again’
“It was the oddest thing, it was just Josh all over again in terms of the voice,” Linda Boyle said of the phone conversation.
“We kinda laughed, still bossy Josh. So that is a very good thing, that they have remained strong throughout it … He’s a man of character. His values are rigid and he will not change for anything, and that’s worked well for both of them, because they’re both like that. And that’s what got them through, it’s knowing what they believed and what they knew was right and wrong.”
There are still many unanswered questions about the couple’s harrowing experience. They were seized by the hostage-takers while on a backpacking trip through the mountains of Afghanistan five years ago. Coleman was pregnant at the time and gave birth to that child, then two others, in captivity.
The story was further complicated by the fact that in the late 2000s, Joshua Boyle had been briefly married to the sister of former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr.
Although he has no links to the family now, Boyle refused to get on a military plane to a U.S. base in Bagram, Afghanistan on Thursday, preferring to fly directly to the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad, Pakistan. His parents say he simply wanted to get home to Canada as fast as possible.
Authorities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border have maintained that Boyle is not under any kind of investigation.
“Over the course of five years many times we’ve wondered why they were (in Afghanistan),” said his mother. “And you know, until they tell us exactly why they were there, we can’t give you an answer.”
Patrick Boyle agreed that the story is now the couple’s to tell when they are ready.
WATCH: Boyle’s parents eager to hear his side of the dramatic rescue story
The two have always been adventure seekers, the Boyles maintain, and had previously backpacked through Central America’s mountainous areas in much the same way they were planning to do in Afghanistan. They had secured tourist visas to enter the country, spoken with tour operators and booked return flights to the U.S. for December 2012.
“They were planning on being back in Pennsylvania for their first child,” Patrick Boyle explained.
His wife said it would admittedly not have been her idea of a relaxing holiday.
“I’d like a nice hotel room, thank you. But that’s not who they are, and you know, each child is a blessing and you take them as they are.”
The Boyles are now focusing solely on welcoming their son’s family home. Linda Boyle said her biggest concern now is how she’ll manage to hug all three grandchildren simultaneously.
“But I think I’ve got it figured out,” she said, laughing.