Waitress-turned-journalist Amanda Lindhout landed in Somalia in 2008 to report on the conflict plaguing the region, but within days of stepping into the war-torn country, Lindhout and her photographer companion, Nigel Brennan, an Australian, were kidnapped by local militia and held for ransom.
During the 15 months they were held captive, Canada-born Lindhout was tortured and raped repeatedly by her teenage captors, Lindhout writes in her memoir, “A House in the Sky,” where she details the atrocities she endured in Somalia.
"I understood that it was a hostile, dangerous place and few reporters dared go there. The truth was, I was glad for the lack of competition. I figured I could make a short visit and report from the edges of disaster. I'd do stories that mattered, that moved people,” Lindhout wrote in the book, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
But, her plan went awry when their car was surrounded by a group of armed men who kidnapped them, and kept them locked up in a compound for a ransom amount of $3 million each.
In an attempt to appease their captors and make life easier for themselves, Lindhout and Brennan converted to Islam. But, their plans backfired when the jihadis told them that although Islam forbids taking money from other Muslims, and that a Muslim may not rape a woman of the same faith, theirs was a special circumstance, the New York Post reported.
The couple were separated as they were not married and because Islam does not allow two unmarried people to stay together. And, at one point, Lindhout writes, her captors put a rifle to her head and played Russian roulette.
The couple was freed in November 2009 in an off-road exchange after Brennan’s sibling arrived in Somalia with the ransom. It was initially reported that Lindhout gave birth to a son while in captivity. But, she has not addressed the rumors in the book.
Lindhout has since returned to Somalia and currently works for the Global Enrichment Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by her to improve the lives of Kenyan and Somali women.
Lindhout’s memoir will be out on Sept. 10.
Keerthi Mohan is an IBTimes reporter covering entertainment and human interest stories.