Thursday, 15 November 2012

Amanda Lindhout, Nigel Brennan & Ahmed

This is an open letter to all Australians, Canadians and people of conscience. 

Please do not let this story go away. 

I have known Amanda Lindhout for a very long time. We haven’t actually met face-to-face, but we’ve had a long association. 

I have never met Nigel Brennan. He, nor any members of his family, have made any attempt to contact me 
or acknowledge the role played by Ahmed. 

At the time Amanda and I established communication she was working with PressTV as a correspondent in Baghdad. Difficult times. She would often call me - or I her - and have lengthy conversations about her problems in that war-torn city. 

We’d also spend extended time on MSN or some other social network chatting about how dangerous things were for her. 

We became quite close. Amanda was being treated abysmally by the management of PressTV. She was being threatened by her bureau chief, which at one point led to the management sending an email to the bureau chief (which I still have) stating: You are not allowed to kill our correspondent. 

I kid you not. 

It was an awful situation. 

When she quit and started working as a freelance for organisations such as France24 and CTV, I was happy for her. 

She moved on, and began working on other projects. 

I was communicating with her on Facebook the day before she was taken hostage. 

The rest - the 15 months captivity and her subsequent release you you can research on the Internet. 

I am in awe of her courage to venture back to East Africa, and as someone who is closely involved with the NGO and charitable sector myself,
her success in raising awareness and helping those in need is nothing short of heroic. Plaudits, kudos. 

But I am troubled. Deeply troubled. 

This enquiry in Australia might provide some interesting - but lengthy - reading. 

Several thousand words long, it makes absolutely no reference to the part played by Ahmed and his efforts to make
the first proof of life call. 

There is something extraordinary happening here too. 

Not mentioned in the report are claims by by Lorinda Stewart that she was in contact with the kidnappers 
basically from day one. 

Her alleged communication with a character called “Adan” or “Adam” might have been useful to Ahmed. Might have saved is life. Or got him killed. 

But this was never passed on to us. Why? The alleged first proof of life with Amanda apparently happened 
before the one arranged by Ahmed. We were not told. Why? 

Because they never happened? Because these are all figments of fertile imaginations hoping to score a decent part 
in the HBO movie “The Heroes Who Saved Amanda and Nigel”?

I am troubled. And I am angry. 

I received an email from Ahmed yesterday accusing me of also being among those who have abandoned him. 

After his usefulness was at an end, the Australian and Canadian governments have made every effort to abrogate ther responsibilities
with totally unsubstantiated suggestions that Ahmed was somehow complicit in the kidnapping.

Well not even suggestions. More like hints. “Do we really know who this guy is?” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.  

I find this absurd.

They also suggested that while he might have been a “good guy” to begin with, he was “turned” by the kidnappers 
with promises of sharing the loot. So he was complicit. 

My first reaction is to consider this an insulting and deliberately misleading “red herring”. 

I was there. So was my wife. Almost 24 hours a day on the computer, on the phone, 
maintaining links, serving tea and coffee to the AFP and RCMP sitting in our living room. 

But I am also realistic. Ahmed has spent his entire life in a country without law, order, morals... 

So maybe he was “turned”. Faced with abject poverty, a sick father (who later died), half a dozen hungry kids, 
and Westerners who - to be frank - have never kept a bloody promise in their life. Who wouldn’t be tempted?

However, multiple requests for any evidence of Ahmed’s complicity have been ignored. 

In the absence of evidence, he is also being denied the benefit of the doubt. 

After all, Amanda and Nigel are home and safe. 

It is so convenient to dismiss Ahmed as just another very dodgy opportunist trying to blag his way into some cash and a cushy life in Australia or Canada.

Easy to forget him. 

But I won’t. And until anyone can prove he isn’t everything he claims to be, everything I know him to be 
from the long nights in Beijing, the pushing, the cajoling, the lies and the bullshit of the RCMP and AFP,
I won’t let Amanda and Nigel forget him either. 

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