Dateline | September 06, 2013
>> narrator: into the war torn somalia in 2008 .
>> as i looked out my window, it was untouched paradise from the sky. but as soon as our plane touched down in mogadishu and we got off, i knew what many had told me about somalia was true.
>> narrator: the capital city seemed lawless. this was after all the city where 18 u.s. army rangers died in the battle for mogadishu depicted in the movie "blackhawk down."
>> we got a blackhawk down.
>> was there something in the area?
>> it was very palpable in the airport. a very chaotic environment.
>> narrator: the pair went to their hotel and met their local staff and security team, the people they hired to protect their lives. those first few days, they moved around somalia with ease.
>> i feel like i settled into the mogadishu experience.
>> narrator: back at home, amanda 's mother melinda was worried about her daughter.
>> every time i talked to her i told her i loved her. i couldn't say it enough.
>> narrator: amanda managed to tampa down her nervousness and get to work.
>> narrator: as you were going down the road, what were you doing?
>> i'm looking out the window, and i'm lost in thought. the vehicle started to slow down and i looked up. about a dozen armed men were emerging from where they had been hidden behind that vehicle with ak-47s. i just went into shock. the next thing i knew, my door was pulled open and i found myself lying facedown in the dirt, spread eagle with a gung he gun held to the back of my head.
>> that was the line in the standing of my life. there's my life before that moment and there's my life after that moment.
>> narrator: in that moment, she feared her life might end. but instead, she was picked up and shoved back into a car with nigel , three gunmen crowded into the front seat, several more in the back. she didn't know who they were or why they were being taken.
>> we went on this wild desert drive offroad. and one of the leaders of this whole kidnapping operation was in the front seat. i asked, is this about money? and he said to me, uh, it might be something like that.
>> narrator: 9,000 miles away from mogadishu ,'re in sylvan lake canada, amanda 's sitting on the porch, the radio said that amanda had been taken hostage.
>> do you remember john's voice on the phone?
>> he said i don't know what to do. i felt like we were so far apart and we didn't know where our daughter was.
>> narrator: melinda was still in shock when she arrived at her ex-husband's house. she was desperate to know what to do next.
>> i knew i had to pull myself together.
>> i think i would be a collapsed puddle on the floor.
>> i knew i couldn't. i couldn't. because if i did, who would she have?
>> narrator: canadian officials suspected this was a kidnapping. they scrambled to set up a recording system. they told melinda that amanda was likely taken by rebels.
>> narrator: they had amanda and her friend nigel . the ransom, 1.5 million for each of them.
>> so the next morning, right before noon, my cell phone rang and it was adam who was negotiator for the kidnappers.
>> narrator: when he called on day four, he had a surprise for lorinda.
>> okay, lorinda, talk to your daughter .
>> amanda ?
>> amanda , i love you, sweetheart.
>> narrator: that call was the first proof that amanda was still alive. l l lorinda being coached by the negotiators --
>> he has asked for $1.5 million.
>> oh, my god.
>> narrator: amanda begged her captors to understand that the ransom might never be paid.
>> my family is trying to make money.
>> narrator: then the call disconnected.
>> did you have that kind of none?
>> i was a single mom , raising my children. and her dad certainly wasn't in a position to pay that kind of money.
>> narrator: by then, canadian officials had routed lorinda's phone to an operations center they kept covert, she lived there, always ready for the next call.
>> after the first couple of weeks, we realized that this might go on for longer than we hoped.
>> narrator: on the other side of the globe, amanda and nigel couldn't know how long they would be held, but amanda feared the worst.
>> i was the only woman among 16 men, so i had lots of scary thoughts.