Sunday January 13, 2019 (RBB NEWS) –Ali Omar Ader is currently sitting in a Canadian prison after being sentenced in 2018 for his role in the brutal 2008 kidnapping of Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout.
But the story of how Canadian authorities found and trapped this kidnapper through an international sting operation sounds more like a dramatic Hollywood screenplay than a real-life investigation.
“We always refer to this operation as the Hail Mary play,” said an investigator with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who asked to remain anonymous as he continues to work undercover. “We didn’t think it would work. And as it was continuing… we were surprised ourselves.”
The investigator shared exclusive new details about a dramatic sting operation for the first time with Kate Snow in a “Dateline” NBC episode airing this Sunday at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. CT).
Lindhout was working as freelance journalist in Mogadishu when she was kidnapped by a group of young Somali men. They held her captive for 460 days, during which time they raped, assaulted and tortured her.
One of the few who spoke English called himself “Adam.” His real name was Ali Omar Ader.
During Lindhout’s time in captivity, Ader contacted her mother, Lorinda Stewart, in Canada to demand a ransom payment. For months, Stewart engaged in terrifying and excruciating negotiations with him before she was able to secure her daughter’s release.
For more on this story, watch NBC’s “Dateline” Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET (9 p.m. CT).
“I would not be here now if it was not for my mother,” Lindhout told “Dateline.” “My mom gave me life and she saved my life.”
Lindhout returned to Canada. She wrote a book called “A House in the Sky” and told her dramatic story in an episode of “Dateline.”
But that was not the end of the story.
In the months after her release from captivity, Lindhout received a message on Facebook out of the blue. It read simply “Hello.” It was from the kidnapper she knew as Adam.
“It was so scary that he could find me, even though I was safe and across the world and was at home,” she said.
Lindhout called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police right away, starting what would become a dramatic operation to bring the man to justice.
The investigator with the Canadian police reached out to Ader, posing as a media consultant for Lindhout’s family. The two men then spent the next several years talking and e-mailing, with Ader eventually revealing that he was well educated and he dreamed of writing a book about the history of Somalia.
“That’s our in,” the investigator recalled thinking, adding that their ultimate goal was to bring the man to justice.