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A timeline: How an alleged kidnapper was lured from Somalia to Canada

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In June 2015, Somali national Ali Omar Ader was arrested in Ottawa at the end of a remarkable five-year undercover operation designed to lure him to Canada. He will stand trial in October for his alleged role in the kidnapping of Canadian Amanda Lindhout. Last week, for the first time, an Ottawa courtroom heard details of that RCMP undercover operation, dubbed Project Slype.

Nov. 26, 2009: Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan are released from captivity after $600,000 in ransom is paid by their families. They had been abducted just outside of Mogadishu, Somalia by a criminal gang, and held for 460 days. Lindhout revealed in her best-selling memoir, A House in the Sky, that she had been tortured and raped during her captivity.

January 2010: The principal negotiator for the Somali gang during the hostage crisis — a man who identified himself as “Adam” — calls Lindhout’s mother out of the blue, seeking to get in touch with Amanda.

In June 2015, Ali Omar Ader was arrested in Ottawa at the end of a five-year undercover operation. 

June 25, 2010: An RCMP undercover officer, claiming to be a representative of the Lindhout family, cold calls Adam to find out what he wants. Unbidden, Adam begins to relate details of the Lindhout kidnapping, and reveals that he has letters — written by Lindhout during her captivity — that he wants to sell to her for $15,000 U.S. He also tells the undercover officer, A.K., that he wants to write a book about Somalia’s troubled history.

June 29, 2010: A.K. calls Adam and tells him that Lindhout may be interested in purchasing the letters, but she needs more time to think about it. Adam offers to send some digital copies of the letters to highlight their value.

July 2010: Adam sends two scanned pages from Lindhout’s cache of letters. 

Sept. 2, 2010: A.K. sends Adam an email, asking for more information about the letters; he also expresses interest in the book idea. In his reply, Adam says his book about recent Somali history, A Slow Genocidewill make him a millionaire.

Sept. 4, 2010: A.K. tells Adam in an email that the Lindhout family does not have much money. He asks Adam for a summary of his book, and offers to share it with a friend in the publishing industry.

Nov. 6, 2010: Following weeks of talk about the book project, Adam sends 16 pages of Lindhout letters. Discussions now focus on the book.

December 2010: A.K. tells Adam that a publisher is interested in his book. Meanwhile, Adam reveals that his real name is Ali Omar Ader. He emails the table of contents from his book and a copy of his degree from Somalia’s African University; he tells A.K. that he’s interested in pursuing a master’s program in international relations.

Dec. 20, 2010: A.K. tells Ader that he’s doing some research for him on master’s programs in Canada.

April 21, 2011: A.K. sends Ader a list of five international relations programs available at Canadian universities.

May 9, 2011: In reply to Ader’s questions about gaining asylum in Canada, A.K. says he doesn’t know much about the refugee process, and directs him to the United Nations. A.K. also relates that he has received positive feedback from the publisher. 

Aug. 9, 2011: Ader forwards to A.K. an email from the UN, saying he’s not eligible for the international refugee program because he has not been displaced from his country. He continues to reiterate a desire to get his family — he has a wife and five children — out of Somalia.

A picture released by the Somalian presidential office on Nov. 26, 2009 shows Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout sitting next to Australian journalist Nigel Brennan a few hours before their departure from the Mogadishu airport. -/  AFP/GETTY IMAGES

March 21, 2012: A.K. floats the idea of signing a contract with Ader to work as his book agent. He tells Ader about his successful consulting firm, Intercon Communications, and says he would charge him a 10-per-cent fee rather than his usual 15 per cent. 

April 2012: A.K. raises the possibility of a business meeting in Dubai.

Sept. 11, 2012: Ader sends an email to A.K., asking if the Dubai meeting will take place. A.K. tells him that he needs a completed book manuscript before they can meet to discuss next steps. A.K. later informs Ader that he will be in India in May, and that they can meet on the island nation of Mauritius.

May 31, 2013: A.K. and Ader meet for the first time in Mauritius at the luxurious Hilton Hotel. The RCMP arrange for Ader to travel to Mauritius, and pay for his plane ticket, hotel and expenses. They also enlist the co-operation of police on the island. At a breakfast meeting, Ader tells A.K. that he was approached by one of the gang members who had kidnapped Lindhout several hours after her abduction. Ader says he was asked to work as a translator and negotiator for the group, but did not have any advanced knowledge of the kidnapping. He says he became “the group’s brains,” and filmed a hostage video sent to Al-Jazeera. The two men later sign a contract, which includes a disclosure clause: Ader repeats his story to fulfil the clause.

July 9, 2013: In response to more appeals for help in securing asylum, A.K. tells Ader that he has no government contacts. By this time, Ader is calling A.K. his “brother” “and “best friend.”

December 2013: A.K. advises Ader that, once he signs a book contract, he’ll get a $10,000 advance. He suggests the book money will solve his security concerns. 

2014: A.K. tells Ader that he has suffered a heart attack, and that their book plan has to be put on hold while he recovers. In reality, the RCMP need more time to solve legal and logistical issues, and to put the pieces in place to bring Ader to Canada.

June 9, 2015: Ader lands in Halifax and is put on a private jet to Ottawa. He meets A.K. at an airport hotel. As a welcoming gift, A.K. gives Ader a copy of Lindhout’s book, A House in the Sky. Ader tells A.K. he wants to apologize to Lindhout and explain his actions in Somalia. A.K. has told Ader that Lindhout has forgiven him.

June 10, 2015: A.K. and Ader meet in a hotel boardroom to discuss the book deal with “Chris,” an undercover RCMP officer playing the role of a publishing executive with a fictitious firm, Catalina Publishing. The meeting is secretly videotaped by an RCMP undercover team. With A.K. acting as Ader’s book agent, Chris walks them through a detailed contract that includes clauses about royalties, reserved publication rights, copyright infringement and dispute arbitration. The $234,000 deal includes a $10,000 signing bonus, the promise of future books and the possibly of a documentary on the Lindhout kidnapping.

In keeping with a disclosure clause, Chris asks Ader to tell him the full story of his involvement in the Lindhout kidnapping in order to protect his firm from negative publicity. Ader unfolds his story again: He was approached by a member of the gang that had abducted Lindhout and Australian Nigel Brennan; he agreed to work for the gang as a translator and hostage negotiator in exchange for a share of the ransom. Ader confirmed he used an alias, “Adam,” during his negotiations with Lindhout’s mother. Ader also told the undercover officers that he only had contact with the hostages for the first three months of their captivity, and that he didn’t know Lindhout was tortured or raped. He was paid $10,000 U.S. for his work as a negotiator. “I was expecting more,” he told the men.

June 11, 2015: Ader is arrested and charged with kidnapping under extraterritorial provisions of the Criminal Code.

Ottawa Citizen

Diaspora

Somali Man charged the deaths of 4 in fatal I-55 accident

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STAUTON, IL – A Colorado truck driver has been charged following an investigation into a multi-vehicle accident that killed 4 people and injured 11 others. Mohamed Jama, 54, of Greeley, Colorado, turned himself in to the Madison County Jail Monday.

The accident happened on southbound I-55 in Madison County on November 21, 2017.

The fatal accident killed 2 sisters, Madisen and Hailey Bertels and a friend, Tori Carroll, and an out of state woman, Vivian Vu in another vehicle.

Authorities say the accident occurred when a tractor-trailer driven by Mohamed Jama failed to slow down and stop for cars in front of him in a construction zone.

By the time it was all over, 7 vehicles were damaged and the people inside them injured or killed.

The sisters attended high school in Staunton.

The deaths deeply touched Staunton where people knew the young women or knew people who were their friends. Many in town were still grieving the loss. Matthew Batson said, “I’ll hear stories about them all the time, even though it’s been five months? Yes, it’s a lasting effect.”

The Madison County State`s Attorney Tom Gibbon said if convicted of all the crimes Mohamed Jama could spend the rest of his life in prison. With summer coming on and more construction zone Gibbons says there`s a warning for all of us.

“Each of us out there in our cars we really need to pay attention, watch out, slow down you never want to see something like this to happen again it so terrible for all the victim I’m sure that no person would want to be the cause of something like this.”

Jama is charged with 4 counts of reckless homicide and 8 counts of reckless driving. He`s being held in the Madison County Jail without bond.

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Books

CANADA: Edmonton author aims to boost diversity in children’s book publishing

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EDMONTON—Two years ago Rahma Mohamed’s then four-year-old daughter saw an Elsa costume, complete with blond braids, and pleaded with her mother to buy it so she would look “beautiful.”

That’s when Mohamed decided her kids needed more cultural inspiration than the blond princess from Frozen.

After a year of work, the first-time author published Muhima’s Quest, a children’s book that tells the story of a young African-America Muslim girl who wakes up on her 10th birthday and goes on a journey.

Now, Mohamed’s at work on her second book, which is due out at the end of the month. She’s on a journey of her own, she said, to boost diversity in children’s publishing.

“I wanted to create a character who had African descent and is a Muslim in a children’s book because I just found out that there were none that were available in the mainstream,” she said.

Her books show kids it’s OK to be different, she said. Take her first book: some Muslims don’t celebrate birthdays, she explains, and the little girl in the book struggles with her faith and questions why she doesn’t celebrate like her classmates do.

“The overall message is that we do things differently, but that part is what makes us beautiful,” Mohamed said.

She said she felt it necessary for her kids to see themselves represented in the books they read in order to “enhance their self-confidence, as well as bolster their sense of pride.”

Mohamed, who writes under the pen name Rahma Rodaah, self-published her first book and since last summer, has sold 200 copies locally.

“It does take a lot of resources and you have to self-finance, but I believe in the end it’s worth it,” she said.

She hopes to go bigger with her second book, which focuses on the universal concept of sibling rivalry, and features a young girl who plans on selling her little brother because she believes he is getting all the attention.

“My overall goal is to portray Muslim Africans who are basically a normal family.”

Mohamed says her previous book was well-received by parents at readings she had done at public libraries and schools.

“Most of them who are Muslims really loved that the kids could identify with the characters,” she said.

The books also acted as a conversation starter for non-Muslim families, she said.

She said, for her, the most exciting part of the journey is knowing that she is making a difference in shaping the minds of young Black Muslims.

“We are underrepresented, misunderstood and mostly mischaracterized. It is time we paint a different picture.”

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Minnesota

When radicalization lured two Somali teenagers … from Norway

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Mukhtar Ibrahim

In October 2013, two Somali teenage girls named Ayan and Leila shocked their parents by running away to join ISIS in Syria. Their radicalization story is unusual in that it happened in Norway.

Acclaimed Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad spent years researching what happened. Now her book, “Two Sisters: Into the Syrian Jihad” is available in the United States.

Seierstad, who discusses her book Monday night at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, said she didn’t go looking for the story.

“The story actually came to me,” she said. “It was the father of the girls who actually wanted the story to be written.”

His name is Sadiq, a Somali man who worked for years to bring his family to Norway. He hoped for a better life. He thought things were going well, then everything collapsed when Ayan and Leila disappeared.

When the girls left home, their parents were in shock, Seierstad said. “They hadn’t understood what was this about. Why? And then as months went by and they got to learn more about radicalization, they realized that all the signs had been there. That the girls were like a textbook case of radicalization. And he [Sadiq] wanted the book to be written to warn others, to tell this story to warn other parents.”

It is a perplexing story. Ayan and Leila were bright, and opinionated. They didn’t put up with being pushed around.

“And that is somehow part of why they left, in their logic,” said Seierstad, adding that the girls were convinced Syria and ISIS offered a chance of eternal life.

“They believed that life here and now is not real life. Real life happens after death. And this life is only important as a test. So the better your score, the better you behave in this life, the better position you will have in heaven for eternity. So isn’t that better?”

Seierstad is known for her in-depth reporting. Her book “One of Us,” about Anders Breivik, the gunman who killed 77 people in Norway’s worst terror attack, is an international best-seller.

When published in Norway Seierstad said, “Two Sisters” became the top-selling book for two years running. What pleases her most is the breadth of her readership. She gets email from young Somali girls, and also from government officials who want to prevent future radicalization.

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