The Globe and Mail – March 17, 2011
Kidnapped in northern Pakistan in November 2008, West Vancouver’s Beverly Giesbrecht had dreamed of getting an interview with Osama bin Laden. A few months ago, there were unconfirmed reports in Pakistan media that she had died in captivity.
“She was in poor health going in,” her friend Mr. Cooper said of Ms. Giesbrecht, 53, a self-styled freelance journalist, who published a pro-Islamic website, Jihad Unspun, that was sympathetic to the Taliban. Mr. Cooper said he believes she died of hepatitis, after becoming sick while being held in unsanitary conditions.
Ms. Giesbrecht, who converted to Islam and took the name Khadija Abdul Qahaar, went to Pakistan in the summer of 2008 to conduct research on terrorism and with the hopes of interviewing top Taliban officials. Her visa application in Canada was supported by two letters from Al-Jazeera, but she wasn’t on staff with any media outlet, nor did she have a specific assignment. Pakistan government officials tried to negotiate through intermediaries for the release of Ms. Giesbrecht, but Mr. Cooper said the ransom demand – which in March, 2009, was for $375,000 (U.S.) – kept changing, and no deal was ever made.

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