Journalists Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan, after their release from captivity.
Journalists Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan, after their release from captivity.

Light shed on Brennan's capture

TWO foreign reporters have shed light on the early days of Nigel Brennan’s capture and the efforts of one man that have so far gone unnoticed.

International journalists Eva Manasieva and Chris Gelken created a Facebook page called Voice For Amanda Lindhout as a forum for people to send messages of encouragement and support.

The pair have posted a tribute to a Mogadishu video journalist they call Ahmed, claiming he risked his life to facilitate the first “proof of life” phone call between Mr Brennan and a hostage negotiator in Nairobi.

“Like almost every Mogadishu resident, Ahmed effectively risks his life every time he steps out of his home. As a journalist, the dangers are so much greater — and as a family man with a wife and children to support, he is always alert to the fact that he is there to record the story,” the pair wrote.

“It was without a second’s hesitation that Ahmed responded to a request by one of Amanda’s friends to make enquiries into the kidnapping.”

Mr Gelken said Ahmed was under extreme pressure — both from the captors who wanted money from him for information about the hostages, and from the Australian and Canadian governments who wanted him to continue his contact with the gunmen.

“In the darkness of a Mogadishu night about two weeks after the kidnapping, Ahmed co-ordinated a complicated international communication that for the first time put the Canadian and Australian negotiating team in direct contact with the group holding Amanda and Nigel,” Mr Gelken said.

But they said Ahmed was eventually phased out as a Nairobi-based negotiation team was assembled.

“His usefulness (was) at an end, he was forgotten,” they said.

Mr Gelken said Ahmed now asked only for acknowledgement.

“(He seeks) acknowledgement not just for himself, but for all decent Somali citizens who have maintained their humanity and morality despite the awful conditions in which they live,” Mr Gelken said.

“People (have been) touched by decades of war and hardship, but not corrupted by it.”