Amanda Lindhout took three days to respond to the news one of her alleged kidnappers from Somalia had been arrested in Ottawa.
But her reaction upon hearing the news, was instant. “I wasn’t sitting down and I literally collapsed on the floor on my knees and began to weep. I cried for probably a full five minutes,” she said, in an interview with CBC News on Sunday. “I was so overwhelmed with emotion. It’s been a long journey.”
The Canadian freelance journalist was taken in August 2008, along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, near Mogadishu in Somalia, and held for ransom for 15 months.
‘A House in the Sky’ is Amanda Lindhout’s best-selling account of the physical and sexual violence she endured, as well as the people who helped her survive the ordeal.
“It was hard to see his face”
Ali Omar Ader was arrested at the Ottawa International Airport on Thursday, the day before Lindhout’s 34th birthday. The RCMP have been investigating and following the case for seven years. No details have been released as to why Ali Omar Ader was in the Canadian capital, but he is currently in custody.
Ader made a brief appearance on Friday June 12th by video from the courthouse cellblock, and will appear in court again this Friday.
In making the announcement of his arrest, the RCMP described him as a major figure in the kidnapping, and “one of the main negotiators”.
“I was stunned that they’d made the arrest. I was even more stunned that the accused kidnapper was in my home country,” Lindhout wrote in a lengthy facebook post. “I had forgotten to sit down, and my knees gave out. I lay on the floor crying, saying the words, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you so much,’ again and again.”
Amanda Lindhout relayed how ‘Adam’ as she called him, “was erratic and bullying and fully complicit in my suffering.” She wrote, “He terrorized my mother, phoning her multiple times a day and at all hours. He also revealed things about himself, speaking to her about his desire to visit Canada, for example,” Lindhout writes. “At different points, he expressed interest in marrying both me and my mother.”
In February 2013, in one of the many speaking engagements she does regularly now, Amanda Lindhout shared what life is like for her following the harrowing the captivity.
“There are still days that are really hard for me,” she said. “I have pretty severe post-traumatic stress and it’s something I live with every single day. I’m still afraid of the dark and I’m afraid of loud noises.”
She often speaks of forgiveness. “Forgiving is not an easy thing to do. Some days it’s no more than a distant spot on the horizon. I look toward it. I point my feet in its direction,” she wrote in her memoir. “Some days I get there and other days I don’t. More than anything else, though, it’s what has helped me move forward with my life.”
In the meantime, Amanda Lindhout continues her work as founder and president of the Global Enrichment Foundation based in her hometown of Canmore, Alberta. The foundation helps to support Somali women living in Somalia and Kenya.