After a year in captivity, Amanda Lindhout begged her mother during a frantic phone call to quickly come up with a hefty ransom because her Somalian abductors had started to torture her.
In a recording of the September 2009 call played in court Wednesday, Lindhout told her mother, Lorinda Stewart, that she had been beaten while her legs and hands were tied. And she said her captors would abuse her every day until the money was paid.
“You have to pay the money now. Where is the money?” a panicked Lindhout says.
“Do you understand what they’re doing to me?”
Lindhout was a freelance journalist from Red Deer, Alta., when she and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were seized near Mogadishu in August 2008 while working on a story. Both were released in November 2009.
Ali Omar Ader, a 40-year-old Somali national, has pleaded not guilty in Ontario Superior Court to a criminal charge of hostage-taking for his alleged role.
Upon hearing her daughter’s pleas from half a world away, Stewart tried to assure her she was doing her best to come up with the $2 million (U.S.) the kidnappers were demanding for release of the pair.
“Amanda, we love you,” she says. “We are trying so hard, Amanda. The government will not help us. We are selling everything we can.”
By this point, Lindhout and Brennan’s families had managed to scrape together $434,000 by selling vehicles, farm machinery and property.
Stewart asked Ader several times to persuade “the group” to lower the amount demanded, telling him during a series of tense phone calls the families were not rich, there was no insurance money and the Canadian and Australian governments would not pay a ransom as a matter of policy.
“You are making our family suffer,” Stewart says during one call.
“You need to come down. We don’t have that money.”
Ader replies: “What we want is to get that money, and that money is $2 million.”
Stewart then asks Ader, “What does Allah think about what you do?”
Ader remains unswayed. “We need $2 million.”
Stewart insisted to Ader she was not lying or playing games with him.
“We want our children home and we are doing the best we can,” she says. “How can I get money that I don’t have?”
Ader sat expressionless in the prisoner’s box, his ankles shackled, as he listened to the eight-year-old recordings.
He was arrested by the RCMP in Ottawa in June 2015. It emerged during pre-trial motions last spring that the Mounties had lured Ader to Canada with a scheme to sign a supposed book-publishing deal.
The Crown says Ader admitted to undercover investigators on two occasions that he was the negotiator in the kidnapping and that he was paid $10,000.
Lindhout broke down during testimony last week, describing her abduction by a gang of armed men in masks as the beginning of 460 days of hell.
Source: The Canadian Press