CBC – April 18, 2012
In 2011, while Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs publicly insisted it was trying to aid a Canadian held for more than two years by the Taliban, it was privately telling the RCMP to stop investigating the crime. Beverley Giesbrecht, a former businesswoman from Vancouver, was abducted in November 2008 while working as a fixer and journalist in Pakistan after she converted to Islam and adopted the name Khadija Abdul Qahaar.
In May 2011, the Department of Foreign Affairs revealed to CBC News that it believed Giesbrecht had died in captivity sometime in 2010, but a spokesperson added that it was continuing “to pursue all appropriate channels” to determine what happened. Documents obtained by CBC News through an access to information request, however, show that months earlier the department not only believed Giesbrecht was dead, but had told the RCMP it didn’t need to investigate.
Foreign Affairs would not explain why it asked the RCMP to end its investigation. After this story was published, department spokeswoman Aliya Mawani issued a written statement that, “as a matter of policy, DFAIT does not, and cannot, instruct the RCMP on any operational or investigative matter,” adding that, “only the RCMP can make a decision to terminate an investigation.”
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.
In October 2008 a Canadian Muslim named Beverley Giesbrecht was kidnapped in a remote region in northwestern Pakistan. Since then, her whereabouts and wellbeing are unclear. Giesbrecht has been held captive by a Muslim group since Nov. 11. She is somewhere in northern Pakistan or in Afghanistan.
A former magazine publisher and advertising saleswoman, Giesbrecht left all the trappings from her former life in West Vancouver and started calling herself Khadija Abdul Qahaar. The last direct contact that her closest friend in West Vancouver had with Ms. Giesbrecht was in July. According to one source who spoke this week to the National Post, a video of Ms. Giesbrecht in captivity surfaced last month. It is the third video to appear since her abduction last year, but the only one not to have been broadcast on television or on the Internet.
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.”
See full-text articles:
The Globe and Mail
The National Post