| Issue 373
and Regional Affairs |
Ottawa, Canada, March 20, 2009 – A Canadian woman being
held hostage in northern Pakistan says her captors are planning to
behead her at the end of the month if a $2-million ransom is not paid.
In a video provided to the Globe and Mail and posted on the newspaper’s
website, a pale and haggard-looking Khadija Abdul Qahaar, 52, begins to
cry as she says her “time is very short and my life is going to end.
“I’m going to be killed, as you can see,” Qahaar says on the video,
pointing at a long knife hanging behind her.
“I’m going to be beheaded just like the Polish engineer, probably by the
end of the month. The deadline is by the end of March.”
Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak was beheaded by a Pakistani Taliban
group on Feb. 7, 2009.
In a shaky voice, Qahaar said she’s being held by the Taliban “someplace
near the Afghan border in either Pakistan or Afghanistan. I’m not quite
sure where I am.”
“A previous video has been made and distributed to my embassy, the
Pakistan government, to various different NGOs (non-governmental
organizations) and groups in order to try to get the demands that
they’re making met.
“Unfortunately nothing has happened.”
The former West Vancouver resident was kidnapped in November along with
three guides while travelling to record video.
Qahaar, who changed her name from Beverly Giesbrecht after converting to
Islam in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is the
owner and publisher of a controversial pro-Islamic web magazine called
Jihad Unspun, which is registered to a West Vancouver address.
Qahaar’s website was criticized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center for
Holocaust Studies, which flagged it as "a Canadian pro-terrorist
Lisa Monette, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, told
Canwest News Service Thursday night that officials were “aware of this
video, but we have no further comment.”
Shortly after the tape was released, the Canadian Journalists for Free
Expression said those holding Qahaar were demanding a ransom of $2
“It is apparent that the kidnappers are increasing the pressure to get
ransom money for her release,” said group president Arnold Amber in a
Qahaar had been visiting the tribal regions of Pakistan near the Afghan
border, collecting material for a documentary for the Al-Jazeera network
at the time of her kidnapping, the group said in a statement.
The group said it’s “extremely concerned by the lack of progress in both
this kidnapping case, and the Somali case in which Canadian journalist
Amanda Lindhout and Australian journalist Nigel Brennan remain in
captivity after almost seven months.”
Jihad Unspun, which has been publishing Mideast news since 2002, posted
a note on its website.
“With almost no resources, this tiny but remarkable woman raised the bar
for courageous reporting,” it says. “She knew that her integrity would
be attacked by both sides.
“Her primary goal is independent journalism that provides an alternate
voice to Western media. She was aware of the risks involved in her
latest journey, but had faith in those who were supposed to protect
Source: Ottawa Citizen, Mar 20, 2009