TORONTO (AP) — A Canadian freelance journalist who was held by kidnappers for 15 months in Somalia seven years ago said Sunday that the Somali man arrested by Canadian police last week terrorized her mother by barraging her with threatening telephone calls with ransom demands.
Canadian Amanda Lindhout and Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan were kidnapped by gunmen on Aug. 23, 2008. They were released in November 2009 after a $600,000 ransom was paid.
Police said Ali Omar Ader, who was arrested on Thursday in Ottawa, was one of the main negotiators within the group that carried out the kidnapping. Lindhout called her kidnappers criminals seeking to collect a ransom payment.
Police suggested that Ader was lured to Canada before being arrested but declined to reveal how he arrived in Canada.
Lindhout released a statement on Sunday in which she said Ader “terrorized my mother, phoning her multiple times a day and at all hours.”
She later elaborated on her statement in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. She said she crumpled to the floor, crying, as police investigators broke the news to her about the arrest of her alleged Somali kidnapper.
Lindhout said she and her family feel a tremendous sense of relief.
Ader “was a deranged man in many ways,” Lindhout told the AP from Canmore, Alberta.
“There were two sides to him. He would call her and sometimes very sweetly refer to her as mommy and speak about and how he … dreamed about coming to Canada and maybe he would see her here. And then he would switch and he would threaten my life. I was threatened in captivity by him and by all the leaders that if the money wasn’t paid we would be beheaded.”
The two journalists were kept apart from each other, beaten and tortured during their ordeal. Lindhout also reported being raped but not by Ader, whom she knew as Adam while in captivity. She called him erratic and bullying and fully complicit in her suffering.
“He never touched me or abused me but one day he did come into the room that I was being held in and he sat with me and he told me he had decided that he was going to make me his wife,” Lindhout said.
“He proceeded to tell me what my life would look like as his wife, what it would be like to be a good Muslim woman and to raise his children. This was really terrifying to me. He spoke in great detail about this. He left that day and then he called my mother and told her. This was also terrifying for my mother.”
She also said Ader expressed a desire to marry her mother. “He was really sick,” she said.
She added it’s been a tough weekend for her mother who has now seen pictures of him for the first time. “She was the one who was on the phone with him all the time so she found seeing his face very difficult. Seeing his face on TV made him very real to her,” she said.
Lindhout said she is very grateful to Canadian police and looks forward to testifying against Ader, who made a brief appearance in an Ottawa court last Thursday and is due back in court next Friday.
Lindhout is no longer a journalist but has co-authored a book about her experience called “A House in the Sky” and has founded a nonprofit organization that supports development, aid and education in Somalia and Kenya.
“It was absolutely a terrible experience, about as awful as a person can imagine or endure but I survived and I’m here,” she said.
“I feel great. Something like this is upsetting because it brings back a lot of memories of the difficult things that happened to me, but it also feels really good because there is a real sense of justice.”