The video that was released on Monday shows an American woman and her family who have been held hostage for four years in Afghanistan. The woman pleaded with President Obama to secure their release before he leaves office next month, according to a report in The New York Times.
“Please don’t become the next Jimmy Carter,” said Caitlan Coleman, 31, sitting with her husband, Joshua Boyle, a Canadian, and their two children, who were born in captivity. “Just give the offenders something so they and you can save face so we can leave the region permanently.”
Coleman was apparently referring to former President Jimmy Carter’s failed attempts to win the freedom of Americans held hostage in Iran.
The couple has been held by the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction, which seized them in late 2012 as they were backpacking in Wardak Province, an insurgent stronghold near Kabul. Coleman was pregnant at the time with their first child.
In the video, she described the family’s ordeal as ‘Kafkaesque’ and said, “My children have seen their mother defiled.”
She spoke into the camera with her husband beside her as their children fidgeted, one with a pacifier.
“We understand both sides hate us and are content to leave us and our two surviving children in these problems,” she said.
“But we can only ask and pray that somebody will recognise the atrocities these men carry out against us as so-called retaliation in their ingratitude and hypocrisy.”
Officials said they believed that attempts to broker a deal were harmed when the American military killed Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, in a drone strike in May.
American officials said the Haqqani network was demanding the release of Anas Haqqani, one of its commanders, who was captured by the Afghan intelligence service in 2014. The Afghan government has sentenced him to death. In an earlier video, the group said it would kill the family if the Afghans executed him.
Speaking into the camera, Coleman referred to that threat.
“Indeed they threaten to retaliate against our family,” she said. “Their group will do us harm and punish us. So we ask that you are merciful to their people and, God willing, they will release us.”
Her husband spoke briefly. “They really will not settle this until they get what they are demanding,” Boyle said.
The motivation behind the release of the video and the timing remained unclear.
The Haqqanis are believed to be holding at least two other Americans, including a university professor kidnapped in August and a Massachusetts man was taken in 2014. The Obama administration has been working to free them. In September, American commandos tried to rescue the American professor but were unsuccessful.