British Columbia

RCMP not convinced Canadian was kidnapped by Taliban

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson offers the first comments from the RCMP since closing its investigation into the abduction of Beverley Giesbrecht, who was kidnapped in 2008 by the Taliban in Pakistan.

Commissioner offers first comments about case

Beverly Giesbrecht of Vancouver was captured by the Taliban, according to a man who was a captive with her. (CBC)

The head of the RCMP says Mounties who investigated the abduction of a Vancouver woman in Pakistan in 2008 were skeptical the kidnapping was real.

Beverley Giesbrecht was working as a freelance journalist when her car was ambushed by members of the Taliban in November 2008. The department of Foreign Affairs (DFAIT) believes Giesbrecht died in captivity two years later.

The RCMP investigation into what happened to Beverley Giesbrecht was called Project Spiel. It was shut down last year after the Department of Foreign Affairs told the Mounties it didn't need to keep digging

Until now, the RCMP has refused to comment. A spokesperson even insisted the investigation was still "ongoing".

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson sounded surprised when CBC News asked him about the case on Parliament Hill Monday.

"Whooo...well...ahm...." Paulson said, before saying that not everyone in the RCMP accepted that Giesbrecht's abduction was genuine.

"It was a little contentious as we went through the file throughout the life of the investigation," Paulson said. "There was some ambiguity as to whether the kidnap was a legitimate kidnap or not."

Before she was kidnapped, Giesbrecht had converted to Islam. She'd  also taken the name Khadija Abdul Qahaar and adopted pro-Taliban views while working as a freelance journalist.

She appeared in several ransom videos, looking gaunt and ill.  Salman Khan, who was kidnapped and later released, described Giesbrecht being hit and beaten by one of their captors.

At the time she was abducted, Paulson was an assistant commissioner responsible for National Security Criminal Investigations.  A number of  secret internal RCMP reports generated at the time, and obtained by CBC News, went through Paulson.

But Paulson said he couldn't offer a complete explanation for why the RCMP shut down Project Spiel.

"At the point at which we understood her to have passed on, I don' t know there was any evidence to support any investigation", he said. 



Curt Petrovich is a journalist and author with more than three decades of national, international and investigative reporting experience.