Journalist Amanda Lindhout tells how a Facebook message from the captor who tortured her for 460 days in Somalia finally brought him to justice and credits her mom with saving her after recounting horrific call where she pleaded for help
- Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped in Somalia in 2008 with photographer Nigel Brennan, who was her boyfriend at the time
- The pair were abducted on their third day in the country and held for 15 months as abductors demanded a $1.5million ransom for each of them
- Lindhout and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigator now tell how her captor was finally caught after he sent her a ‘hello’ message on Facebook
- The pair were finally freed in 2009 after relatives handed over thousands of dollars in ransom money
- On June 18, 2018, the man who had Facebook messaged her and orchestrated the kidnapping, Ali Omar Ader, was sentenced to 15 years in jail in Canada
- The Dateline special, The Trap, will air tonight at 10p/9c on NBC
Ali Omar Ader (pictured) was sentenced to 15 years in jail in Canada for orchestrating the kidnapping
Journalist Amanda Lindhout has revealed how she was able to help authorities arrest her Somali captor after he reached out to her on Facebook and said ‘hello’.
Lindhout and her boyfriend, Nigel Brennan, were kidnapped in Somalia in 2008 for 460 brutal days with the group of young hostage takers demanding $1.5million for each of them.
Speaking in Dateline special ‘The Trap’ tonight, Lindhout recalls how she was terrified when she saw the message from Ali Omar Ader – the main kidnapper who she knew as Adam – on the social network.
She tells how, in the months after her release from captivity and her return to Canada, she received the Facebook message from Ader that just read ‘hello’.
‘It was so scary that he could find me, even though I was safe and across the world and was at home,’ she said.
She called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and so began a five-year long undercover operation to bring Ader to justice.
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Journalist Amanda Lindhout, from Canada, was taken as a hostage for ransom in Somalia in 2008. She and her boyfriend at the time – photo journalist Nigel Brennan, were freed 460 days after they were kidnapped after their families gave thousands. She is pictured speaking on Sunday’s episode of Dateline
Journalist Amanda Lindhout is pictured with her mother, Lorinda Stewart, who negotiated her daughter’s freedom
Lindhout credits her mother with saving her life and giving her a reason to live while she was held captive (pictured walking near their homes in Canada)
Dateline also speaks to Lindhout’s mother and an undercover agent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the gripping special.
The journalist credits her mom with saving her life. ‘I would not be here now if it was not for my mother,’ Lindhout says. ‘My mom gave me life and she saved my life.’
Lindhout made a series of emotional and terrifying phones calls to her mom during her time in captivity which feature in the special.
‘If you guys don’t pay one-million-dollars for me by one week they will kill me,’ she told her mother in one phone call.
Her mother responds ‘Amanda…’ with her anguished daughter crying, Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy…’
Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan smile for photographers in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on November 26, 2009, after their release from captivity
Lindhout was 26-years-old and working as freelance journalist in Mogadishu, when she and Brennan were captured when they encountered armed men on the side of a road.
While in captivity, Adam contacted her mother, Lorinda Stewart, in Canada to demand a ransom payment.
Over the course of months, Stewart was terrified as she negotiated her daughter’s release with Adam.
The undercover agent – posing as a media professional – and Adam spoke at length.
Lindhout is pictured with her mother back in Canada during the Dateline special this evening
Adam eventually told the agent that he was well educated and wanted to write a book about Somalia.
‘That’s our in,’ the investigator told Dateline.
‘It totally fits in line with what I knew of this man,’ Lindhout said.
‘He struck me as the kind of guy whose ego was so big… of course, if somebody told him he’s capable of writing a book, he would think that.’
As things progressed, the investigator convinced the kidnapper to meet in person on an island in the Indian Ocean off of Africa’s east coast, to sign a book deal.
During the meeting, after burying a clause in the contract that would encourage Ader to reveal details of his past- which would encompass Lindhout’s kidnapping, he confessed.
‘In my head I was dancing. It was amazing. You couldn’t ask for better evidence,’ the investigator said.
However, it wasn’t enough as authorities on the island wouldn’t allow the operation to be videotaped.
So, they had to lure Ader to Canada. Which proved successful.
Once Ader was in Ottawa, he confessed to his past, while hidden video cameras were rolling in the hotel room where they would continue their conversation under the rouse of a book deal.
This file pictures shows Somali security forces near the presidential palace in war-torn Mogadishu, on July 14, 2018. Lindhout was kidnapped from Mogadishu as she headed to a refugee camp to cover a story
Finally, 460 days after being captured, Lindhout (left in 2014 with a book she has written) and Brennan (right in 2008) were set free
And when Ader and the investigator walked out of the room, they were both arrested.
‘They handcuffed us both, led us off in different directions,’ said the investigator, who remained undercover during the apprehension. ‘I went for a beer. He went to jail.’
Ader was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison on June 18, 2018, five years after she had been messaged with the ‘hello.’
When asked if bringing Lindhout’s kidnapper to justice was worth all that time, the investigator said: ‘Absolutely.’
‘We always refer to this operation as the Hail Mary play,’ the investigator added.
‘We didn’t think it would work. And as it was continuing… we were surprised ourselves.’
Brennan published a memoir the Price of a Life in 2011 while Lindhout released a memoir, A House in the Sky, in 2013.
The Dateline special, The Trap, will air tonight at 10p/9c on NBC.