In 2008, the 24-year-old waitress/amateur journalist traveled to Somalia in search of life-changing war-zone scoops, only to be taken captive on her third day in the country. Amanda is now telling the story of her horrific 15-month captivity in shocking, in-depth detail.
Amanda Lindhout, 29, may be on the heels of the release of her memoir, A House in the Sky (out Sept. 10), but four short years ago it looked doubtful that she would ever live another day. After Amanda, who was really just a waitress from Canada, naively wandered into the dangerous war zone of Somalia, Africa with her Australian ex-boyfriend, Nigel Brennan, the two were taken captive and tortured viciously by a group of revolutionaries. The tale that follows is truly breathtaking and terrifying.
‘A House In The Sky': Amanda Lindhout’s Horrifying Tale
Going where most professional journalists would not, into a place without an effective government that is controlled by factions of militia, Amanda recounts how she and Nigel were ill-prepared for such dire circumstances. And as easy targets, they were taken quickly — on their third day in Somalia.
Upon her capture, Amanda was immediately taken into a room and molested by an Islamic jihadi. The group that took them told them they would be released for a price — $3 million each. With the chances of their families coming up with that money close to none, Amanda and Nigel plotted that the best way to survive would be to convert to Islam.
Amanda Lindhout Converts To Islam
But the conversion only made things worse. The captured pair were forced to follow the laws of the Muslim religion — they no were no longer allowed to share the same room — all while their captors continued to starve and beat them and bend the religion’s rules: a Muslim may not rape another Muslim woman, but this was a special circumstance, they said; a Muslim may not take money from another Muslim, but this was a special circumstance, and so on.
Amanda recalls that she was raped on a nightly basis — it has been reported that Amanda gave birth to a son, named Osama, while in captivity, but she has not confirmed the claim, according to the New York Post. At one point, Amanda’s captors even forced her to lay down on a bed while they played Russian roulette, sticking an assault rifle to her head teasingly.
100 days into captivity, the jihadis held a knife to Amanda’s throat, intent on killing her before telling her to call her mother and tell her — $1 million in one week or she will be killed.
Amanda Lindhout & Nigel Brennan Are Freed
After a later failed escape attempt resulted in horrific gang rapes for Amanda, her family and Nigel’s took it upon themselves to free their loved ones. One of Nigel’s siblings reportedly risked his life to transport money to Somalia. Finally, on November 25, 2009, after 15 months had passed, Amanda and Nigel were freed.
Nigel published his memoir, Price of a Life, in 2011 — now it is Amanda’s turn. Her in-depth account will no doubt be difficult to read, but it is also an incredible story of survival. What’s more, Amanda has since returned to Somalia, where she works on behalf of her organization, the Global Enrichment Foundation, which aims to improve the lives of Kenyan and Somali women.
WATCH: Amanda Lindhout Delivers Gripping Speech
— Andrew Gruttadaro