Al­leged kid­nap­per was ‘an­gry, afraid’

Amanda Lind­hout’s mother tells court of ef­forts to bring her daugh­ter home safely


OTTAWA— 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 Ader sud­denly be­came “an­gry and afraid.”

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.

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 pre-trial mo­tions last spring that the Moun­ties had lured Ader to Canada through an elab­o­rate scheme to sign a pur­ported 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.

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

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

“We don’t even know if they’re alive,” says Stewart, who was joined on the call by Bren­nan’s sis­ter. “The money will not be in your hands un­til we speak to Amanda and Nigel.

“If you let us speak to them tonight, you will have it to­mor­row morn­ing.”

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 Ader was ner­vous, ask­ing how he could trust the fam­i­lies to pay.

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

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

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

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

Stewart ac­knowl­edged re­ceiv­ing a fol­lowup phone mes­sage from Ader in Jan­uary 2010, as well as later con­tact through Face­book.

Ader said he wanted to help Lind­hout, apol­o­gized to Stewart for speak­ing badly to her and claimed he was “play­ing two sides” in the ne­go­ti­a­tions in or­der to save her daugh­ter, Brown told the court.


Lorinda Stewart, left, told the court that she spent months try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate her daugh­ter’s re­lease.

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