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Video: Father: Ex-wife smuggled our kids to Egypt

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    MATT LAUER, co-host: We're back now at 7:43 with a father who is desperately trying to get his kids back after his ex-wife snatched them and then took them overseas. Now US officials are getting involved. We're going to speak to the boys' father exclusively in just a moment, but first, NBC 's Jeff Rossen is here with the latest on this story. Jeff , good morning.

    JEFF ROSSEN reporting: Hi, Matt. Good morning to you. The boys are just seven and nine years old. Their father has no clue where they are. Somewhere in Egypt , that's all he knows. The kids are now with their mother who's basically in hiding. She lost custody here in the US, then smuggled the boys overseas to Egypt . This morning, new international pressure to bring them home.

    Mr. COLIN BOWER (Fighting to Bring Sons Home from Egypt): I've just arrived in Cairo .

    ROSSEN: Just days ago, Colin Bower caught this video in Egypt as he searched for his kids again. For this American dad , trip number six ended like all the others, desperate and alone. Colin hasn't seen his boys, his loves, in more than a year. He says they were literally stolen from him, stolen by their own mother, his ex-wife, Mirvat Elnady . They got divorced in Boston in 2008 . Colin won sole custody of seven-year-old Ramsay and nine-year-old Noor , but last summer, Colin says, his ex-wife took the kids, forged their passports and snuck them into her native Egypt .

    Mr. BOWER: I have no idea where they are. Nobody has told me where they are and I have been told that the Egyptian government knows where they are.

    ROSSEN: But the Egyptian government won't tell you.

    Mr. BOWER: The Egyptian government certainly hasn't told me.

    Hi , guys, it's daddy. It's been a whole year since we've talked.

    ROSSEN: Colin has launched a Facebook page with direct pleas to the boys.

    Mr. BOWER: I think about you every day. It's the first thing I think about when I wake up and it's the last thing I think about before I go to sleep.

    ROSSEN: Now there's an international arrest warrant out for the ex-wife, her face plastered on the Interpol Web site, wanted for kidnapping, but experts say that may not matter.

    Mr. ROBERT WALLACK (The Wallack Firm, P.C.): It's presumed that a mother should have custody of children in Egypt . And so it's one of the things that he's going to have to work against.

    ROSSEN: Under an Egyptian court order , Colin is supposed to see his kids twice a month. He shows up but says his ex-wife doesn't. Neither do the kids. Do you think they're being brainwashed to hate you?

    Mr. BOWER: Absolutely. I think that the mother practiced parental alienation prior to kidnapping them and taking them illegally to Egypt and I'm sure she's doing the same thing now.

    ROSSEN: Now Colin 's case is reaching the highest levels of government. Senator John Kerry has written three letters to Egyptian officials, saying in a statement, "I call upon the Egyptian government to do what it can to locate Noor and Ramsay and bring them home." And now the State Department is involved, too. Plus, this week, by mere coincidence, Egypt 's President Hosni Mubarak is in Washington for a preplanned summit with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton .

    Mr. BOWER: I want them to be on an airplane tomorrow. She has the ability to do that. The Egyptian government has the ability to return these children tomorrow. And that's what I want. That's what they deserve.

    ROSSEN: Diplomatic pressure worked for another American dad , David Goldman . He spent five years trying to get his abducted son, Sean , back from Brazil . After more than a dozen trips and endless heartache, the father-son reunion. Now they're living as a family back in New Jersey , a scene Colin dreams about every day.

    Mr. BOWER: In the meantime, be good boys, get lots of exercise, stay active, stay healthy and know that daddy loves you.

    ROSSEN: I spoke with the ex-wife's attorney by phone yesterday. He wouldn't comment on any of this, but there are developments in the case this morning. Late Tuesday, an official from the US Embassy was able to meet with the boys in Egypt and said they were in good shape, well-clothed and, Matt , talked actively about friends and activities.

    LAUER: All right. Jeff Rossen . Jeff , thanks very much. Colin Bower is here now for an exclusive interview. Mr. Bower , good morning to you.

    Mr. BOWER: Good morning, Matt.

    LAUER: That last piece of information that Jeff just gave us...

    Mr. BOWER: Yes.

    LAUER: ...has to be good news because now at least someone from the US Embassy knows where your boys are.

    Mr. BOWER: Well, it's good news because they know that the boys are safe and they know that the boys are in reasonable condition. They don't know where they are.

    LAUER: Did you learn anything else about that meeting? Anything else about your boys?

    Mr. BOWER: No, I didn't. I learned that exactly what the clip said in summary. But after a year's time, I'm sure that they were well on message and they were well coached for that visit.

    LAUER: You created this Facebook page and I want to play another portion of what you've recorded and then talk to you on the other side about it.

    Mr. BOWER: I want you both to know, Noorsy Bear and Z-Man , that daddy loves you and that daddy will always love you and that daddy will never, ever forget you and I know I'll see you soon.

    LAUER: Yeah. As a father, I find that recording heartbreaking because you have to know the chances of them actually getting to see it are slim. So in some ways it tells me you're recording that more for your own feeling than their feeling.

    Mr. BOWER: Yeah, originally I did. It was -- it was one way that -- that was -- it was frankly therapeutic for me to communicate with them in some fashion after a year because I hadn't been able to at all. But I also found out yesterday that, in fact, Noor , who is nine, is on the Internet and they did reference the Facebook page. In fact...

    LAUER: So he knows.

    Mr. BOWER: Yes, he knows. And I reached out to friends and family last night to post messages to him and to Ramsay .

    LAUER: When you go to Egypt , you have these twice a month court-ordered visits.

    Mr. BOWER: Yes.

    LAUER: When you go there, are you -- are you working with someone from the court? Do they meet you? Do they say they're trying to help you? Or are you left to fend for yourself?

    Mr. BOWER: Well, it's a court order . I'm there often with somebody from the embassy and my own local legal counsel. But the fact is there's nobody to force compliance on the Egyptian side, so she simply is not showing up and she said she won't show up for the next visit.

    LAUER: Is it true that if she doesn't comply on three separate occasions, she could face the loss of custody and even jail time?

    Mr. BOWER: That's what I've been advised, yes. But that's up to the Egyptian courts and then you have to rely on the fact that they would actually implement their laws.

    LAUER: Your next visit is scheduled for when?

    Mr. BOWER: A week from this coming Friday.

    LAUER: And any more optimistic that you may be put in contact with your sons than...

    Mr. BOWER: No. And in fact, I was told yesterday at this visit that they don't intend to honor this visitation, blatantly.

    LAUER: John Kerry , the State Department , Hillary Clinton ...

    Mr. BOWER: Yes.

    LAUER: ...meeting with the Egyptian delegation. Are you at all optimistic there? Have you heard anything in terms of whether it would be on the agenda?

    Mr. BOWER: Well, I know that Senator Kerry has reached out to the State Department . I know that Ambassador Scobey has reached out to the State Department and I'm hoping that it will be on the agenda. Certainly President Mubarak is at the White House today and Secretary Clinton will be speaking with him tomorrow and the Egyptian government has the ability to make this issue go away.

    LAUER: We're going to follow this story. Mr. Bower , thanks for joining us this morning.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 9/1/2010 9:02:18 AM ET 2010-09-01T13:02:18

This time of year, Boston resident Colin Bower should be feeling a father’s pride in watching his two growing sons start a new school year. Instead, he’s left pining for the boys he hasn’t seen in more than a year, since his ex-wife spirited them away to her native Egypt using forged passports. 

TODAY
Interpol lists the boys' mother as a fugitive.
Bower has traveled to Egypt six times, enlisted the help of U.S. Sen. John Kerry and the State Department and started a Facebook campaign in an effort to be reunited with 7-year-old Ramsay and 9-year-old Noor. But he doesn’t know if he’s any closer to getting his boys back than the day their mother sneaked them out of the country.

Still, Bower continues to post video messages to his boys on Facebook.

“It is, frankly, therapeutic for me to communicate with them in some fashion after a year, because I haven’t been able to see them at all,” Bower told Matt Lauer in an interview on TODAY Wednesday.

Video: Father: Ex-wife smuggled our kids to Egypt (on this page)

Whisked away to Egypt
Bower was granted sole custody of Ramsay and Noor following his divorce from their mother Mirvat el Nady in 2008. Bower handed the boys over to Nady for a visitation on Aug. 9, 2009, with Bower scheduled to pick them up from her home a week later. But on Aug. 11, she boarded a flight with Ramsay and Noor using Egyptian passports bearing the name “Power” to get them on the plane.

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At the time Bower was due to pick them up, he received a phone call from a mobile phone. On his Facebook page, Bower says the caller told him he “would not be able to see or contact his children again if he did anything about the fact that [my] children were missing.”

Bower contacted police and Nady was listed on Interpol as a fugitive wanted for U.S and international warrants for kidnapping. But she’s made herself — and the two boys — scarce. An Egyptian court granted Bower twice-monthly visitation with the boys in Egypt, but Bower told Lauer his ex-wife hasn’t produced the boys on his first two court-ordered visits.

“The fact is there is no one to force compliance on the Egyptian side, so she is simply not showing up,” Bower told Lauer. He is scheduled to fly to Cairo for a third scheduled visit next week, but Bower said he has been told “she won’t show up for the next visit,” either.

TODAY
Bower has not seen his sons since last August.
If Nady fails to deliver the children to Bower for a visit a third time, she will be in violation of Egyptian law, but Bower told Lauer an arrest by Egyptian authorities would require “that they actually implement their laws.”

Still, Bower is not without hope — and has actually seen some headway in recent days. On the eve of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s visit to the White House this week, Bower was informed that an Egyptian official had visited the boys to check on their well-being. Bower said he was told Ramsay and Noor are in good shape and talked excitedly about their friends and activities in Egypt.

But Bower told Lauer he believes his sons “were well on-message and well-coached for that visit.”

Bower’s spirits were buoyed that his video messages to his boys may actually have been seen by them. Bower told Lauer he’s learned elder son Noor has Internet access and is aware of his father’s Facebook page.

Now, Bower hopes that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton puts pressure on Mubarak to return his children to him when she meets with him this week. Already, Sen. Kerry has written three letters to Egyptian government officials requesting the children be put on a flight back to the U.S.

Bower hopes his situation has a happy ending much like the case of New Jersey’s David Goldman, who fought for five years with the Brazilian government to get his son returned to him before the pair were finally reunited last year.

In the meantime, Bower is left with the heartache of having gone 55 weeks without seeing his sons.

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“It’s been absolute torture on many levels,” Bower told WBZ-TV in Boston. “I can’t tell you what it’s like to lose a child, to lose two children, and not have any means of communication. It’s horrible. It’s a living nightmare.”

Visit his Facebook pagehere.

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