Kidnapped journalist warned of 'close calls'
Published Thursday, November 13, 2008 10:11PM PST
A West Vancouver, B.C. journalist has reportedly been kidnapped in a tribal area of northern Pakistan.
Beverly Giesbrecht, a Web magazine publisher in British Columbia who adopted the name Khadija Abdul Qahaar after converting to Islam after 9/11, was seized at gunpoint on Tuesday while gathering material for an upcoming documentary in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan.
An English language Pakistani newspaper reported the incident Wednesday, saying the journalist and her translator were seized by armed men, and police were combing the area to locate her.
Lisa Monette, spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, would not confirm the report, but did say a Canadian is missing in Pakistan.
On an Oct. 22 posting to her publication's website, Jihad Unspun, Qahaar appealed to her contributors for money to help her secure a visa to exit Pakistan, citing kidnapping fears.
"We have managed to get very good material out of the country to our production group but our physical safety is now paramount," Qahaar writes.
"As a woman, I have already had a few close calls in the tribal areas as kidnappers."
In the late 1980s, Qahaar worked in sales for Vancouver mayoral candidate Peter Ladner's Business in Vancouver, before buying the publication.
She later developed a magazine called Venture Quest, before moving on to focus her efforts on the website jihadunspun.com. A friend calls the website "an alternative source of news on the Islamic world."
"She had become very interested in Muslim and Islamic issues and was publishing in that whole arena," Ladner told CTV News. "This is distressing, especially if this is becoming a trend."
Foreign Affairs' Monette says she is not aware of any media requests to withhold news of the abduction as had been the case when CBC reporter Mellissa Fung was kidnapped in Afghanistan last month.
After being asked to honour a news blackout, Canadian news media did not publish reports on Fung's kidnapping until she was released safely last week.