Lind­hout begged mother to pay ran­som after se­vere beat­ing

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - OPINION - JIM BRONSKILL

OTTAWA — 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 US$2 mil­lion 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 US$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 eightyear-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.

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