Robert Fowler presentation: “Lessons Learned From Sleeping with Al Qaeda”
Former Ambassador Robert Fowler, one of Canada’s most distinguished diplomats, presented a riveting talk at the University of Ottawa on June 29th, 2015. The event was organized by ICJ Canada, along with the Security and Policy Institute of Professional Development, University of Ottawa.
Professor Mendes, President of ICJ Canada, introduced Ambassador Fowler as a dominant force in Canadian foreign affairs who experienced a most devastating life-threatening event. On December 14, 2008, Fowler, acting as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Niger, was kidnapped by Al Qaeda, becoming the highest ranked UN official ever held captive. In his presentation, Ambassador Fowler related how, along with his colleague Louis Guay, he lived, slept and ate with his captors for nearly five months, gaining rare first-hand insight into the motivations of the world’s most feared terror group. Ambassador Fowler discussed how his capture, release and subsequent media appearances have helped shed new light on foreign policy and security issues as we enter the second decade of the “War on Terror” and a new understanding of the so called “clash of civilizations”. The presentation was followed be a lively discussion moderated Professor Mendes with the 60 participants from the government, civil society, the diplomatic community and the legal profession.
Ambassador Fowler's book, A Season in Hell, is the compelling story of his captivity, told in his own words.