by Robert Fowler
Columnist Robert Fowler’s experiences in the al-Qaeda captivity are frightening as well as the picture of how they work. He writes, “In December 2008, I was making my third trip to Niger as the United Nations Special Envoy, attempting to broker a peace between the government and Tuareg rebel factions in the north.
One Sunday, two weeks before Christmas, my colleague, Louis Guay, and I were returning to the capital, Niamey, in a UN vehicle when a truck passed us, slewed in front and forced us to a stop.
Two AK47s were aimed at the face of our driver, and within the blink on an eye all three of us were torn from our seats and thrown into the back of their truck. The whole grab took perhaps 40 seconds.
Thus began our 56-hour descent into hell, a 1,000km off-road nightmare into the middle of the Sahara desert. Twelve hours into that appalling journey, we stopped
for a couple of hours rest.