Taliban insurgents active in Pakistan’s tribal region have offered to free a Canadian woman held since November in return for a $375,000 USD ransom. Gul Bahadur, the Taliban head in the volatile North Waziristan region, is alleged to be responsible for the kidnapping of Beverly Giesbrecht, a West Vancouver woman who was in the area working as a freelance journalist.
Giesbrecht, 52, also goes by the name, Khadija Abdul Qahaar, after converting to Islam in 2002. She is the publisher of a pro-Islamic website, Jihad Unspun. She was seized at gunpoint along with two local assistants while traveling in the Bannu district, a gateway to the North Waziristan tribal belt, which borders Afghanistan. There have been recent reports that a spate of kidnappings of Pakistani and foreign officials in the area have been triggered by the Taliban’s need for money.