A Season in Hell: Robert Fowler

Robert Fowler was no ordinary hostage, a career diplomat, former advisor to Prime Ministers ... a man who spent a lifetime as a political and geo-strategic analyst. His days in captivity allowed him to observe one of the world's most formidable terrorist organizations up close. Today we hear from Robert Fowler on what he experienced, what he learned and who might have set him up.

Part One of The Current


It's Thursday, November 3rd.

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A Season in Hell: Robert Fowler

We started this segment with a CBC news report from December 15th, 2008 - right after the Canadians Robert Fowler and Louis Guay mysteriously disappeared in West Africa. They were on UN business, Robert Fowler as the UN Special Envoy for Niger. They were taken hostage -- Robert Fowler says the bottom fell out of his world when one of the kidnappers identified them as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

For four harrowing months, Mr. Fowler was held by Osama Bin Ladin's West African affiliate. It's an experience he recounts in his new book A Season in Hell: My 130 Days in the Sahara with Al Qaeda. Robert Fowler joined us in our Toronto studio.

We did request interviews with both the Department of Foreign Affairs and the RCMP. Foreign Affairs sent us this statement which reads in part:

We do not discuss operational details that might compromise the safe return of someone else in the future. In each and every case, the government does everything it reasonably can to help citizens in distress....Canada remains grateful for (the efforts of authorities in Mali and Burkina Faso which) resulted in Mr Fowler and Mr. Guay returning home to Canada and their families.

We also sought comment from Niger's Embassy in Ottawa. That request also went unanswered.

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