Please Help My Friend Colin Recover His Kidnapped Children: Noor & Ramsay

Posted on Aug 21, 2010 | 17 comments


I’ve never made a public appeal before.  Then again, I’ve never had a friend in need like my dear friend Colin Bower who is trying to recover his two kidnapped boys Noor (8) and Ramsay (6).

The short story:
Colin & I have been close friends for 13 years when we started our MBA program together.  We then both lived in London and our children played together.  Colin moved back to his home town of Boston before I returned to the US and unfortunately he got divorced from his wife, an Egyptian national, in 2008.  He was granted full legal custody by the US courts of his two young boys (US citizens).  His wife created forged passports in a fake name and kidnapped his two children by illegally flying back to Cairo on Egypt Air.  He hasn’t seen them in more than a year and she is in hiding.

Mirvat el Nady now has an arrest warrant in the US and is wanted by Interpol (see here).  Colin is being supported by his Senator John Kerry and has received help from Vice President Biden and Attorney General, Eric Holder.  The problem is that Egypt doesn’t support the Hague Convention and doesn’t have an extradition policy with the United States so they don’t recognize any of the international legal rulings in Colin’s favor.  Colin has now won visitation rights in an Egyptian court, but Mirvat didn’t show up at the legally required meeting day / time in Egypt.

What can you do to help Colin?

  • Watch a short 3 minute video of Colin being interviewed by the Boston news station - this will make Colin’s situation come to life for you rather than just trusting my blog post.  It is a heart-breaking interview to watch for anybody but more so if you have children.  What would you do if your’s were kidnapped and taken abroad with no recourse?
  • UPDATE: I’ve set up a donation page where you can contribute (even small amounts appreciated) to Colin’s legal defense fund. I figure if I can get 1,000 people to give just $25 Colin will have greatly needed resources. Click here for donation page:
  • Visit this Facebook page with further details. Leave Colin a short note of support
  • Please share the Facebook page from the link with your network to help create awareness and like the page to receive updates
  • Sent out a Tweet with the text “I support the release of @colinmbower’s boys #noorramsay http://bit.ly/noorramsay
  • If you feel so inclined you could add “thank you @johnkerry for your support” (Colin lives in Boston so John Kerry is his senator. We hope the more public support Kerry sees the more active his support will be)
  • Please Retweet this post by clicking on the green retweet button and share it on Facebook by clicking on the blue FB share button
  • If you know any way to help (friends in government or any other ways you could recommend) please email me.  My email address is my Twitter handle at Gmail.

The slightly longer story:
Colin was married to an Egyptian national (who went to USC and had previously lived in the US) and had two boys, now 8 and 6.  We were close friends at the University of Chicago’s international MBA program.  We then both lived in London where Colin was a director at AOL Europe in their hey day and was then CEO of a tech startup.  When he left to set up his own company he worked out of my office.

I knew Colin and Mirvat (his former wife) both well.  I will refrain from any commentary about her character.  My wife & I went out with them as couples and I spent much time with Colin separately with our business school classmates when they were in town.  I knew Colin’s eldest son Noor really well.  He was born about 18 months before my first son so he was one of the first young babies and toddler I hung out with a lot.  When my first son was born and was a toddler the four of us used to hang out together.  Colin was a loving and affectionate father.  Our kids played well together and naturally my son followed Noor’s lead as the “big guy.”  A couple of years later Colin’s second son Ramsay was born.

Colin moved back to the US before I did.  He moved to Boston (where he resides today) near where he was raised in Manchester-by-the-Sea.  In 2008 Colin & Mirvat were divorced and Colin was awarded full legal custody of both children.  Mirvat was granted restricted visitation rights and was specifically barred from driving a car with the children (she wasn’t legally allowed to drive at all) or to leave the state of Massachusetts without written consent.

Mirvat’s family is well connected in Egypt.  When we lived in London we had attended parties at the residence of the Egyptian ambassador to England and went to several dinners with the children of prominent and internationally renowned Egyptian families that I won’t name here.  Mirvat was able to obtain falsified Egyptian passports with the name “Power” rather than “Bower” and she was able to fly out of the country on EgyptAir, whom Colin holds accountable for its lax security policies even post 9/11.

I spoke to Colin nearly weekly through his entire divorce proceedings.  His wife had access to large economic resources and I saw first hand how our justice system can be heavily biased toward parties with vastly superior financial resources.  After Colin won the much drawn-out US proceedings Mirvat opened a further legal battle in England where they shared joint property.  This further bogged down Colin from a time perspective as well as emotionally and financially.

Colin’s battle to win custody of his two children has now raged on for 3 years.  He hasn’t seen or spoken to them in more than a year.  To this day my phone conversations with him are still heart-breaking yet I’m struck by his resolve to win back his boys.  I could see weaker men giving up in the futility that the international system imposes.

I am amazed and inspired by Colin’s commitment to his boys.  He spends all of his working day working hard at his social media consulting firm because in his words, “I need to continue to be economically successful to finance the return of my boys and have a stable environment for them to return to.  My job and my fight for my boys are all I have now.”  He flies regularly to Cairo to try and increase his legal rights there and had spent months flying to London in their protracted property battle.  To say that Colin spends all of his free time and his money on his efforts understates the case.

Colin, I know things have been difficult.  But you’re an inspiration to fathers everywhere. I saw the love you gave Noor and Ramsay first hand.  And all of my love, thoughts and support goes out to you in your time of need.  Bring back #noorramsay

  • http://twitter.com/StaceyKann Stacey Kannenberg

    Shame on EgyptAir for turning a blind eye and letting this father be separated from his children! Shame on this mother for being selfish — obviously she is only thinking of herself and not of the needs of her children!! She doesn't care what laws she breaks nor that her kids have a father that they love and loves them in return! So sad!

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Exactly how I feel. And if you knew the full story you'd be even more disgusted but I feel that many of the details are not for me to share. Thank you for leaving your thoughts.

  • http://www.leftbraintorightbrain.com/ Scott Carleton

    Intense post. Certainly will spread the news. My best wishes for Colin.

    Mark, I responded to your tweet querying for a 'kickstarter for individuals'. I am building something akin to this principle but not within this post's intentions nor gofundme's style either. Let me know if you're interested in hearing about it and I'll drop you an email.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Sure, Scott. That would be great. Send me an email. I'm on vacation this week so if I don't respond please ping me early Sept.

  • asd löj

    “Authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to override international law in extraterritorial law enforcement activities”, 1989 Regan-administration

  • Rocque

    I am sharing this post. It is the least I can do. You are in my prayers, and I have seen prayers change things. I am not supposed to be alive, my mother is not supposed to be alive, but people prayed. Hold on to your faith, do not let bitterness and forgiveness take up the space for faith and trust that this will work out for good. I know it is easier to say then do. I am sorry for anyone who has to go through something like this.

    One question, can we donate via PayPal?

  • http://twitter.com/billmcneely Bill McNeely

    Mark,

    I put out the word to my network who work in the intel/security/military sectors. They may be able to offer direct assistance. Will keep you posted if I hear anything.

    Bill

  • Anja Stief

    I have a little baby boy myself and I can fully understand what it must feel for Colin to be separated from his children. My hope is, that he will be able to have them around as soon as possible. It is just irresponsible for EgyptAir to have not controlled the passports enough to see that they were fake.

    And to the boys' mother: What do you think you are to take these kids away?! They need their father, they love him as much as he loves them and you just didn't have the right to steal them! If you don't wanna rot in hell for what you've done, you should reconsider and give them back!

    To Colin: My thoughts are with you. What you have to go through touches people even in Germany. Keep your head up and don't give up hope.

  • Devon "SlingBlade"

    Bill it's Devon. Call me secline…

  • Manicich

    How horrible! This seems to be a political problem between the two countries. Egypt must be pressured to change their policy. What pressure is available to us? This is an outrage!

    Melody Anicich

  • Connie Peterson

    Mark – praying for your friend and the return of his precious children – what a gut-wrenching situation. Thank you, too, for making a stand as a father. Need more dads, like you, that will stand up and help put a permanent end to abuse.

  • Pj

    Hire a bounty hunter (I wish I had a better word) . It's a last resort, since they can be expensive, but they generally are effective. And, they're safe – just research. It's what they do for a living. Typically, you give them a down payment, and they receive the remainder at the completion of his or her task.

  • http://www.capitalistcounsel.com Lee Weinberg

    Any assistance from our Secretary of State or the State Department or Massachusetts Senators? This is sometimes the only way to get a result…

  • http://linkedin.com/in/toddwcarter Todd

    I'm unclear on why EgyptAir would be to blame. Does it, rather than the government, vet passports before allowing passengers into Egypt?

  • Annunciata

    Shame on the courts for taking these children away from their mother and forcing such drastic action.

    Children need to be with their mothers.

    She did the right thing.

    Maybe the Dad can see them when they're older.

  • Jonwaniak

    please contact me i might be able to help by doing an extraction but i would need more detailds

  • eileen mahoney

    I came to know Mr. Bower and his former wife professionally. He is a man of integrity, kindness and honesty. My husband and I would like to offer him our support and prayers. The sooner these boys can be reunited with him, the less pathology they will be exposed to. Respectfully, Dr.and Mrs Thomas R Mahoney