Ali Omar Ader contradicted his own testimony several times Wednesday during cross-examination by the Crown attorney.
In two-and-a-half days in the witness box, Ader has insisted he too was a hostage of the Somali terrorist group that held Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian Nigel Brennan captive for 15 months near Mogadishu.
The pair were tortured in captivity and Lindhout was raped during a time that she has called “460 days of hell”.
Ader told the court he was taken at gunpoint by the group in August of 2008 and forced to make ransom calls to both Lindhout and Brennan’s family, demanding millions of dollars for their release.
Ader claims he was a hostage of the same group, that he was beaten and shot while being held in an apartment near the famous Bakaara Market, forced against his will to make several ransom calls to the families and sticking to a script laid out by the terrorists.
However, a different story emerged during cross-examination under Crown lawyer Croft Michaelson.
Ader admitted during his time in captivity, he was allowed to leave the apartment for meals because “no one was cooking, you’d go to a restaurant to eat.”
Seemingly shocked at the revelation, Michaelson laughed and noted it was something new the court had not yet heard.
“Would you go out to the restaurants to eat on your own?” Michaelson asked.
“Sometimes by myself, sometimes people were with me,” stated Ader.
The new information contradicts previous testimony given by Ader who said while being held captive he was under constant supervision of gunmen from the group.
The admission came after Michaelson played audio of different ransom calls where Ader’s children can be heard in the background. The Crown contends Ader was never held captive by the group, but instead that he was the lead negotiator who was living at home with his wife and kids throughout Lindhout’s captivity.
Ader’s explanation was that his wife and children were only briefly with him at that moment. He said the city was under siege and they’d taken refuge with him as they happened to be in the area he was allegedly being held.
The Crown attorney also spent part of the cross-examination grilling Ader, saying he had several opportunities to contact authorities about his capture and the hostage-taking of both Lindhout and Brennan.
Michaelson asked Ader why he never once informed his sister — was a police officer — or the government, and pointed out that during the 15-month ordeal he was working as a travel agent and not being held by the gang.
“You said that the president of the transitional [Somali] government was someone you were close to, you could have called him and told him you were captive, correct?” Michaelson asked Ader.
“The situation in Somalia at the time was one where even the president couldn’t do anything for me,” responded Ader.
The cross-examination ended with Michaelson challenging Ader on each part of the testimony he gave in court. In doing so he reiterated the Crown’s case: that Ader was the lead negotiator for the terrorist group, was paid $10,000 for his role, and tried to sell letters Lindhout had written back to her mother for $20,000.
“Mr. Ader, I suggest to you, none of your evidence in this court has been truthful,” Michaelson sternly told Ader.
Ader simply disagreed with every assertion, saying he told the court the truth.
Closing arguments are expected to end Thursday.