ISLAMABAD - 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.
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.
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 a backlash from the Pakistan Army also hindered US operation inside Pakistan.
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.