StFX speaker at International Women’s Week sees the end of a 10-year manhunt.
In March of 2017, Amanda Lindhout visited StFX to give a speech as part of a lecture series for International Women's Week. Lindhout became well-known around the world after she was captured for 460 days while freelance journaling in Somalia. I interviewed Lindhout while she was visiting StFX and spoke to her about her kidnapping experience and the degree she received at the Coady Institute.
Her harrowing story has resurfaced because, almost 10 years since her kidnapping, RCMP agents were finally able to track down Ali Omar Ader, the man behind Lindhout's capture. The trial lasted 10 days and ended on December 6, 2017, where Ader was found guilty in one charge of hostage-taking for his role as a negotiator.
The kidnapping occurred in August of 2008 as Lindhout and her friend Nigel Brennan were pursuing a story. The two were held for a brutal 15 months and they were released upon payment of ransom. The multi-year police investigation established contact with Ader by developing a relationship with him by posing as a publisher and promising to help him publish his book about Somalia. The undercover mountie met with Ader in 2014 on the island of Mauritius where Ader confessed to taking Lindhout hostage for $10,000 in ransom money. They met the next time at a fake book contract signing that came up in Ottawa where Ader admitted to the kidnapping again on Canadian soil. It was the following day that he was arrested.
In a 24-page ruling, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith found Ader’s defence, that claimed he was forced to be the main negotiator during the hostage taking, as “completely unbelievable” thereby rejecting many of the arguments made by Ader’s lawyers, Trevor Brown and Samir Adam.
The Crown prosecutor's case was built on the series of recorded conversations Ader had with the undercover RCMP officer. In the correspondences, Ader admitted to volunteering to act as the main negotiator. In the court room Ader claimed he lied about admitting to being the negotiator just so that he could get a book deal. The judge waived these claims as nonsense and inconsistent to what he claimed in the recordings.
Lindhout testified that Ader was part of the group and stated “basically they saw me as a piece of property that they owned”. Smith commemorated Lindhout for her courage during the “deplorable conditions and subjections to abuse”. The judge also praised Lindhout's mother, Lorinda Stewart, who acted as the main negotiator during her daughter's capture.
Stewart was able to keep a level head during the negotiations and Smith added “she treated the accused so well during the negotiations that he began to believe she was his friend and referred to her as ‘Mum Lorinda’, she played an important role in keeping Amanda alive”.
Prosecutor Croft Michaelson said the outcome sent a message around that world that “if you take a Canadian citizen, you are not safe”. Ader, 40, has been charged under Sec. 279.1(2) of the Criminal Code, which focuses on hostage-taking. He faces the possibility of life in prison and will be sentenced next year.