Captive Canadian Woman Feared Dead in Pakistan

The Globe and Mail – March 17, 2011
Kidnapped in northern Pakistan in November 2008, West Vancouver’s Beverly Giesbrecht had dreamed of getting an interview with Osama bin Laden. A few months ago, there were unconfirmed reports in Pakistan media that she had died in captivity.
“She was in poor health going in,” her friend Mr. Cooper said of Ms. Giesbrecht, 53, a self-styled freelance journalist, who published a pro-Islamic website, Jihad Unspun, that was sympathetic to the Taliban. Mr. Cooper said he believes she died of hepatitis, after becoming sick while being held in unsanitary conditions.
Ms. Giesbrecht, who converted to Islam and took the name Khadija Abdul Qahaar, went to Pakistan in the summer of 2008 to conduct research on terrorism and with the hopes of interviewing top Taliban officials. Her visa application in Canada was supported by two letters from Al-Jazeera, but she wasn’t on staff with any media outlet, nor did she have a specific assignment. Pakistan government officials tried to negotiate through intermediaries for the release of Ms. Giesbrecht, but Mr. Cooper said the ransom demand – which in March, 2009, was for $375,000 (U.S.) – kept changing, and no deal was ever made.

Appears unlikely Taliban militants will kill Canadian hostage

Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal region have opted to delay plans to kill Canadian hostage Beverly Giesbrecht, but her captors are apparently still holding out for a ransom before releasing her. The abduction of Giesbrecht, 53, has become a sensitive issue, and tribesmen of the embattled area are reluctant to speak on the matter openly. However, some locals said that while there is no hard information about her release, it could come at any time.

In a video released last month, the West Vancouver resident said her captors warned that they would behead her if their demands for $375,000 USD weren’t met by the end of March. That deadline was later extended to April 6. The Canadian embassy in Islamabad has been working behind the scenes with Pakistani authorities to help secure her release.

Deadline for Canadian Muslim woman held hostage by the Taliban extended

The Islamic militants holding a Canadian hostage at the Afghan-Pakistani border region have extended the deadline for their ransom demands to be met, according to an associate of the Taliban commander thought to be in control of her. In a video released last month, West Vancouver resident Beverly Giesbrecht, 53, said her captors would behead her if their demands for $350,000 (U.S.) weren’t met by the end of March. She was seized at gunpoint in the Bannu region of northern Pakistan in November.

Canadian Muslim Journalist Kidnapped in Pakistan

Khadija Abdul Qahaar, a Web magazine publisher in British Colombia, along with her translator and guide, were seized at gunpoint while traveling in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan. Ms. Qahaar was known as Beverly Giesbrecht prior to her conversion to Islam, and publishes the website jihadunspun.com. Mark Federman, an expert in media studies at the University of Toronto, said he had not previously heard of jihadunspun.com. But looking at the circumstances of the reported abduction, “my skepticism detectors start flashing on this one,” he said. While Mr. Federman acknowledged the threat of abduction was very real in the region Ms. Qahaar was travelling, he questioned the timing of a website posting calling for money to deter abduction the week prior.

Lisa Monette, spokesperson for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs did not confirm the report, but did say a Canadian was missing in Pakistan. Monette added, “The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the High Commission in Islamabad are working with Pakistani officials right now and they are pursuing all appropriate measures.”

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