Michelle Shephard

Journalist Michelle Shephard met teenager Ismail Khalif Abdulle in Mogadishu, Somalia, in January 2010, as he fought back tears and told her how Al Shabab, Al Qaeda's proxy in East Africa, cut off his right hand and left foot in a public amputation. He had refused to join their group and the Shabab wanted to use him as a lesson to others.
 
Toronto's Somali diaspora and Sahal Abdulle, a former Reuters photojournalist and Somalia-born Canadian living in Nairobi, were moved by Ismail's story and vowed to help. Through an underground network of supporters, Sahal got Ismail out of Somalia and into Kenya. Soon after, the UN declared him a refugee in need of protection and the 18-year-old applied for asylum. Norway accepted him on an emergency basis and a year later, in January 2011, Shephard and Abdulle accompanied him to Harstad,Norway, where he now lives happily and goes to school.
 
Overcome by emotion, the teenager could not believe his change in fortune. "They could not break my spirit," Ismail said of the Shabab. "If they break your spirit you cannot go anywhere. They only took my hand and foot."

Michelle Shephard is the Toronto Star’s National Security correspondent and author of Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism’s Grey Zone (2011) and Guantanamo’s Child (2008). She has covered issues of security, terrorism and civil rights since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, and her reporting has taken her around the world to locales including Pakistan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and two dozen times to the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Shephard is a three-time recipient of the National Newspaper Awards and was part of a team that won the Governor General Michener Award for Public Service Journalism. She is currently producing a documentary on the Uighur detainees from Guantanamo.