Lind­hout’s mother says al­leged kid­nap­per feared dou­ble-cross

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - NEWS - JIM BRONSKILL

Amanda Lind­hout’s mother says one of her daugh­ter’s al­leged So­ma­lian ab­duc­tors feared “he was be­ing set up” for a dou­ble-cross as ar­range­ments for a ran­som pay­ment were be­ing fi­nal­ized.

Lorinda Stewart told an On­tario court Thurs­day that talks with Ali Omar Ader in early Novem­ber, 2009, did not go well be­cause Mr. Ader sud­denly be­came “an­gry and afraid.”

Ms. Lind­hout was a free­lance jour­nal­ist from Red Deer, Alta., when she and Aus­tralian pho­tog­ra­pher Nigel Bren­nan were grabbed by masked men near Mogadishu in Au­gust, 2008, while work­ing on a story. Both were re­leased in late Novem­ber, 2009.

Mr. Ader, 40, has pleaded not guilty in On­tario Su­pe­rior Court to a crim­i­nal charge of hostage- tak­ing for his al­leged role.

He was ar­rested by the RCMP in Ottawa in June, 2015. It emerged dur­ing pre­trial mo­tions last spring that the Moun­ties had lured Mr. Ader to Canada through an elab­o­rate scheme to sign a pur­ported book-pub­lish­ing deal.

The Crown says Mr. Ader ad­mit­ted to un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tors on two oc­ca­sions that he was the ne­go­tia­tor in the kid­nap­ping and that he was paid $10,000.

Mr. Ader took notes on a yel­low le­gal pad in the pris­oner’s box as Ms. Stewart tes­ti­fied Thurs­day.

Ms. Stewart told of how she flew to Nairobi to help ar­range for re­lease of her daugh­ter and Mr. Bren­nan af­ter many months of of­ten dis­tress­ing long-dis­tance calls.

In a record­ing of a phone call with Mr. Ader played in court, Ms. Stewart de­mands to speak with the pair be­fore any money is trans­ferred to So­ma­lia.

“We don’t even know if they’re alive,” says Ms. Stewart, who was joined on the call by Mr. Bren­nan’s sis­ter.

At one point, the cap­tors were de­mand­ing $2.5-mil­lion (U.S.), but the fam­i­lies as­sem­bled less than $700,000 af­ter months of des­per­ately try­ing to raise funds.

The plan was to elec­tron­i­cally trans­fer the ran­som funds from Syd­ney, Aus­tralia, to Mogadishu through a money-trans­fer ser­vice.

The phone record­ing in­di­cates Mr. Ader was ner­vous, ask­ing how he could trust the fam­i­lies to pay.

“How can we trust you?” Ms. Stewart shot back.

An ini­tial at­tempt to pay the ran­som did not work out, but a sec­ond ef­fort suc­ceeded.

Dur­ing the 15-month or­deal, Ms. Stewart was thrust into the role of ne­go­tia­tor, some­times tak­ing calls from Mr. Ader in the mid­dle of the night be­cause of the time dif­fer­ence.

Trevor Brown, an Ottawa-based lawyer for Mr. Ader, called the cir­cum­stances “sur­real” dur­ing his cross-ex­am­i­na­tion of Ms. Stewart.

“You found your­self in a po­si­tion you never thought you’d be in.”

Mr. Brown painted Ms. Stewart’s se­ries of con­ver­sa­tions as some­thing of a con­fus­ing web due to Mr. Ader’s heavy ac­cent and lim­ited English, the dif­fi­culty of hear­ing prop­erly on over­seas phone links and the fact that peo­ple work­ing at the re­quest of Mr. Bren­nan’s fam­ily were also in touch with Mr. Ader.

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