Canadian Journalist Amanda Lindhout Was Raped and Tortured for 15 Months by Somali Kidnappers

Amid the torture and terror, Lindhout says she witnessed acts and events that helped her resolve to never give up. Source: Supplied

TAKEN hostage, tortured and repeatedly raped, Amanda Lindhout lost all hope. But one incredible act of courage inspired her.

SHE was just 26 years old. For a young reporter, the job was the opportunity of a lifetime. But, just days after entering war-ravaged Somalia, Amanda Lindhout’s survival instinct would be pushed beyond all human boundaries.

Rape. Torture. The reality of death always just centimetres and seconds away.

For 15 months, Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were brutalised as their increasingly impatient captors demanded ransoms be paid for their freedom.

Eventually, both were freed. But the soul-searing cruelty of their captivity changed them both.

Lindhout told Andrew Denton on Seven’s Interview of the excruciating torture she suffered. But she also related the moments of beauty, revelation and extraordinary courage that gave her the strength to survive.

THE MOMENT

Lindhout had simply wanted to tell the stories of those suffering from decades of internal conflict.

“It was a very important story to tell,” she told Denton. “Also, as a young, mostly freelance journalist, it was also an opportunity for me.”

She said that she and her friend Brennan went on what they thought was a one-week work trip to Somalia. “Only we ended up staying.”

Lindhout said she was aware of the risks, and thought she had become acclimatised to war-torn lands in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Three days after entering Somalia, on August 23, 2008, she and Brennan were seized.

“Our logistics organiser had told us it was safe to travel outside of the city,” she said. “There was no active fighting, we were going to an internally displaced people’s camp. That was going to be the big story that we were in Somalia for.”

So they set out.

“We’re on a big open highway road. Somalia is so poor a lot of people don’t even have vehicles,” she said. “So we see a car pulled over off to the side up ahead and because it was the only other vehicle on the road it right away grabbed our attention. Within minutes, what unfolded was like something out of a nightmare.”

A dozen armed men spread out across the road, pointing AK-47 assault rifles at them

“I couldn’t see their faces. Young men in chequered scarfs. So, our vehicle was forced to stop. They surrounded us, pulled the doors open, pulled us out … And the next thing I knew I had been abducted.”

Their leader, a man calling himself Adam, demanded Lindhout and Brennan contact their families. He wanted $US1.5 million ransom — each.

“The Canadian and Australian governments don’t pay ransoms,” Lindhout said. “I come from a really poor family. Nigel’s family is not wealthy. And so that began the start of what would be a very long time in captivity.”

Screengrab from Al-Jazeera TV reportedly showing the kidnapped hostages Lindhout and Australian Nigel Brennan while in captivity.

Screengrab from Al-Jazeera TV reportedly showing the kidnapped hostages Lindhout and Australian Nigel Brennan while in captivity. Source: Supplied

CAPTIVATED CAPTORS

Initially, she said, she and Brennan were held together. “That was such a comfort. To be able to have somebody to talk to, to share the emotions with.”

Her captors were very interested in her and Brennan’s stories. They wanted to know about their lives.

But as time drew on, things changed for the worse.

Brennan and Lindhout were separated.

“Almost the day that we were separated, sexual abuse started,” she said. “It was so devastating and so scary. And also as time was passing the conditions were becoming worse. (It cost) money to feed us and so the food was becoming less, and our teenage captors … you know, they were quite resentful.”

Lindhout was raped and threatened with death.

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SOURCE: News.com.au – Jamie Seidel