Tuesday, March 26, 2019
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‘Hello’: How a Facebook message to journalist Amanda Lindhout from her brutal kidnapper finally brought him to justice

By JESSICA FINN

Ali Omar Ader (pictured) was sentenced to 15 years in jail in Canada for orchestrating the kidnapping

Journalist Amanda Lindhout was able to help authorities arrest her Somali captor, Ali Omar Ader, who held her for ransom as she was raped, after he reached out to her on Facebook and said ‘Hello.’

Lindhout, whose gripping and horrific capture saw her and her boyfriend, Nigel Brennan, kidnapped in Somalia in 2008 for 460 long and brutal days, as the group of young hostage takers demanded $1.5million for each of them- was terrified when she saw the main kidnapper message her.

Dateline spoke to Lindhout, her mother and an undercover agent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in a gripping interview airing Sunday night which reveals it was that one small Facebook message that ultimately brought Adam to justice.

‘We always refer to this operation as the Hail Mary play,’ said an investigator with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who remained anonymous as he is
‘We didn’t think it would work. And as it was continuing… we were surprised ourselves.’

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 
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

Lindhout's mother, Lorinda Stewart, negotiated her daughter's freedom 
Lindhout’s mother, Lorinda Stewart, negotiated her daughter’s freedom

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.

‘I would not be here now if it was not for my mother,’ Lindhout told Dateline. ‘My mom gave me life and she saved my life.’

In the months after her release from captivity, Lindhout received a message on Facebook 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 immediately called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and so began a five year long undercover operation to bring the man she knew as Adam to justice.

The undercover agent- posing as a media professional- and Adam spoke at length.

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 was 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.

Lindhout (left) was just 26 when she traveled to the volatile east African nation's capital of Mogadishu in 2008 alongside 36-year-old Australian photographer Nigel Brennan (right). They are pictured in this 2009 file photo in Somalia's capital Mogadishu after they were freed

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