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The Kidnapping of Abu Omar aka Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr

 

Background

Media Reports

Legal Documents

Government Documents

Photo Credits

 

Newest Media Report: Italian Court Increases Sentences for 23 CIA Agents (15/12/2010/Agence France Presse)

 

Background

 

“In March 2003, the Italian national anti-terrorism police received an urgent message from the CIA about a radical Islamic cleric who had mysteriously vanished from Milan a few weeks before. The CIA reported that it had reliable information that the cleric, the target of an Italian criminal investigation, had fled to an unknown location in the Balkans. In fact, according to Italian court documents and interviews with investigators, the CIA’s tip was a deliberate lie, part of a ruse designed to stymie efforts by the Italian anti-terrorism police to track down the cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, an Egyptian refugee known as Abu Omar. The strategy worked for more than a year until Italian investigators learned that Nasr had not gone to the Balkans after all. Instead, prosecutors here have charged, he was abducted off a street in Milan by a team of CIA operatives who took him to two U.S. military bases in succession and then flew him to Egypt, where he was interrogated and allegedly tortured by Egyptian security agents before being released to house arrest. […]”

 

Excerpt of a Washington Post article from December 6th, 2005.

Surveillance photo of Abu Omar - shot by CIA operatives

 

Washington Post Diagram of the Kidnapping

 

Recent Media Reports

 

December 15th, 2010 - Italian Court Increases Sentences for 23 CIA Agents

1 news article from Agence France Presse

 

April 5th, 2010 - Italian Prosecutor is Tracking Convicted CIA Agents

1 news article from the Washington Post

 

February 1st, 2010 - Italy’s Secret Service Knew of CIA Rendition: Judge

2 news articles from Reuters & New York Times

 

November 6th, 2009 - Italian Court Convicts US Agents in CIA Rendition Case

1 news article from World Socialist Web Site

 

Media Reports Archive

 

Legal Documents

 

May 13th, 2009 - Complaint

Sabrina de Sousa vs. Department of State, Hillary Clinton & U.S.A./U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

 

“[…] For nearly fifty years, the concepts of diplomatic and consular immunity have remained steadfast principles of international relations. However, the recent investigation and subsequent criminal proceedings by Italian authorities into the role of twenty-six United States Government (‘USG’) officials in an alleged ‘extraordinary rendition’ in Milan, Italy six years ago has threatened to undermine those steadfast principles.

 

“The Plaintiff Sabrina De Sousa (‘De Sousa’) is one of those USG officials. For three years, De Sousa has been forced to watch from the sidelines as the USG refused to intervene on her behalf and affirmatively declare that she is immune from the Italian criminal proceedings. For three years, De Sousa has been intentionally deprived of any recourse to respond to the wide swath of allegations published by the media, particularly in both Italy and the United States. For three years, De Sousa has been ordered to remain silent and placed into a position where she has had to choose between her family overseas and her employment with the USG.

 

“Effectively abandoned and left to fend for herself by the very government she had faithfully served for over a decade, De Sousa has brought this action against defendants Department of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton in her official capacity as Secretary of State, and the United States of America (collectively referred to herein as the ‘defendants’) in order to seek vindication of her rights. She has brought this action pursuant to the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §2201, the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. §701 et seq., the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. §1651, the Department of State’s internal regulations and the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. [...]

 

“[...] De Sousa’s Employment Status in Italy

 

“33. In 1998, De Sousa was selected to serve as an FSO.

 

“34. In August 1998, De Sousa was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy as a Political Officer, Second Secretary. She was provided with a USG Diplomatic Passport that explicitly stated Sousa was abroad on a diplomatic assignment. Her position fell within the definition of a ‘diplomatic agent.’

 

“35. In May 2001, De Sousa was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Milan, Italy as a Consul. She was provided with a USG Diplomatic Passport that explicitly stated De Sousa was abroad on a diplomatic assignment. Her position fell within the definition of a ‘consular officer.’ De Sousa’s tour of duty was scheduled to end in May 2004.

 

The Alleged Kidnapping of Abu Omar and Resulting Criminal Proceedings

 

“36. On February 17, 2003, De Sousa was vacationing at a ski resort in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, nearly 130 miles from Milan, Italy.

 

“37. According to published news reports, on or about that same day, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr (also known as ‘Abu Omar’), was allegedly kidnapped in Milan, Italy by both USG and Italian intelligence officials. [...]

 

“38. Abu Omar was allegedly flown to Egypt and subjected to interrogation, including torture. [...]

 

“39. In January 2004, De Sousa’s tour in Italy ended and she returned to the United States. She continued to work at DOS and took part in public policy coordination efforts.

 

“40. In July 2005, Italian Prosecutor Armando Spataro issued arrest warrants for twenty-two (22) alleged Central Intelligence Agency (‘CIA’) operatives in relation to his investigation into the alleged kidnapping of Abu Omar. [...]. In July 2006, an arrest warrant for De Sousa was issued; she was identified as one of the four main USG officials responsible for coordinating the alleged operation. [...]

 

“[...] Actions by the United States Government

 

“46. Throughout the course of the criminal proceedings and while she remained an employee of DOS, De Sousa was instructed not to communicate with the Italian government-appointed defense lawyers representing her interests. She was also instructed not to speak to the media regarding the criminal proceedings or any aspect of the alleged kidnapping of Abu Omar.

 

“47. At no point throughout the course of the criminal investigation and pending criminal proceedings has the USG, through Secretary Clinton or another appropriate USG official, intervened and declared that De Sousa enjoys diplomatic/consular immunity. Conversely, at no point has the USG, through Secretary Clinton or another appropriate USG official, expressly waived the diplomatic/consular immunity of De Sousa.

 

“48. To date, the USG has not exercised its discretionary authority to bring criminal charges against De Sousa for her alleged involvement in the alleged kidnapping of Abu Omar. Upon information and belief, the USG has concluded that, even if the allegations are true, De Sousa’s conduct did not constitute a criminal offense under U.S. law. [...]”

 

September 27th, 2005 - Arrest Warrant for Betnie Medero, Vincent Faldo & James Harbison

Order by the Tribunal of the City of Milano (Italy)

 

“[…] THE JUDGE PRESIDING OVER PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATIONS

 

“Having examined the Prosecutor’s request, in which custodial measures are sought for:

1) MEDERO Betnie, d.o.b 3.29.1967 in the USA, US passport nr 016051676 issued on 4.27.1988;

2) FALDO VINCENT, d.o.b. 11.1.1950 in Massachussetts (USA), US passport nr 102026001 issued in Boston on 6.7.2000;

3) HARBISON James Thomas, d.o.b. 12.15.1948 in the USA.

 

“ARE UNDER INVESTIGATION for the following offences:

 

“Felony ex Arts. 110, 112 n° 1, 605 criminal code, whereby among themselves and together with others (also Egyptian nationals), including ROMANO Joseph L. III - with the consequent aggravating circumstance of the offence being committed by over five persons - for having kidnapped, depriving him of personal freedom, Nasr Osama Mustafa Hassan alias Abu Omar, apprehending him by force and forcibly making him enter a van, thereafter taking him first to the US military airbase at Aviano, where the United States of America Air Force 31st FW (Fighter Wing) is stationed, and thence to Egypt;

 

“[P]arties to the crime being Jenkins Anne Lidia, Kirkland James Robert, Castaldo Eliana Isabella, Ibanez Brenda Liliana, Castellano Victor and Gurley John Thomas in participating to the preparatory stages of the abduction (preliminary scouting and assessment of the location where it would take place, scrutiny of Abu Omar’s habits, research into neighboring areas to that of the planned abduction, as well evaluation of the most suitable route for a safe and hasty access to the freeway bound for Aviano);

 

“[P]arties to the crime being Asherleigh Gregory, Purvis George, Carrera Lorenzo, Harty Benamar, Harbaugh Raymond, Rueda Pilar, Sofin Joseph, Adler Monica Courtney, Logan Cynthia Dame, Duffin John Kevin, Channing Drew Carlyle, and Vasiliou Michalis, Medero Betnie, Faldo Vincent, Harbison James Thomas in participating to the above mentioned preparatory stages, and to the actual execution of the kidnapping together with the victim’s transfer to Aviano;

 

“[P]arty to the crime being Romano Joseph, US head officer in charge of security at Aviano base, for receiving the abductors and the victim at the said base, ensuring the formers benefited from a safe access to the base, and were able to put the victim on a plane taking him outside Italy;

 

“[P]arty to the crime being Lady Robert Seldon, for coordinating the action, as well as for guaranteeing connections and assistance to other parties to the crime, also as a consequence of his earlier presence and working activity in Milan.

 

“Abduction carried out in Milan, on 02\17\2003

 

“PRELIMINARY REMARKS

 

“The present request for custody measures is part of the procedure above indicated, in relation with which, on 06.22.2005, this office has issued an ordinance for custody measures for:

 

“1) ADLER Monica Courtney;

2) ASHERLEIGH Gregory;

3) CARRERA Lorenzo Gabriel;

4) CHANNING John Kevin;

5) DUFFIN John Kevin;

6) HARBAUGH Raymond;

7) HARTY Ben Amar;

8) LADY Robert Seldon;

9) LOGAN Cynthia Dame;

10) PURVIS L. George;

11) RUEDA Pilar;

12) SOFIN Joseph;

13) VASILIOU Michalis.

 

“Consecutively, the PP’s appeal having been accepted, the Tribunale del Riesame in Milan, with an ordinance dated 07.20.2005, has sought custody measures also for:

 

“14) CASTALDO Eliana;

15) CASTELLANO Victor;

16) GURLEY John Thomas;

17) KIRKLAND James Robert;

18) JENKINS Anne Lidia;

19) IBANEZ Brenda Liliana.

 

“The investigations made after the issuing of the two above mentioned ordinances for custody measures allowed us to identify three more persons - Medero Betnie, Faldo Vincent and Harbison James Thomas - guilty of having participated to Abu Omar’s abduction in Milan on 02.17.03. […]”

 

Government Documents

 

October 16th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Mr Spataro, Prosecutor (Milan, Italy)

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

“[…] In his introductory remarks, Mr Spataro informed the Committee that the investigations regarding the kidnapping of Abu Omar in 2003 had been closed on 6 October 2006. Referring to questions put by Members at his previous appearance in the Committee regarding the possible cooperation by or knowledge of the Italian government in the kidnapping of Abu Omar, Mr Spataro emphasised that there were still no evidence of any such involvement.

 

“During his investigations, he had interrogated or interviewed several persons from the Carabinieri and from SISMI, the Italian intelligence service. Among them were Mr Pironi from the Carabinieri, Mr D’Ambrosio, SISMI station chief in Milan at the time, Mr Mancini, head of the counterintelligence division of SISMI, General Pignero, SISMI agency chief for Northern Italy, and the head of the SISMI station in Trieste. He had wanted to interrogate Mr Pollari, the head of SISMI, but the latter had refused to answer any questions since the information that he had was covered by state secrecy.

 

“During interrogations, the Carabineri official Mr Pironi had admitted that he had taken part in the kidnapping by asking Abu Omar for his identification papers. He had used the opportunity of the identity check to take Abu Omar to the van in which he was abducted. According to Mr Pironi, the kidnapping had been prepared by the CIA and SISMI. SISMI had assisted by carrying out checks and observing Abu Omar for a certain period of time. Mr Pironi had agreed to take part in the kidnapping because he was told that SISMI was involved and with the hope that Mr Robert Lady, the CIA station chief in Milan, would help him to be transferred from the Carabinieri to SISMI. Mr Pironi did not know who the other people involved were, but there were two persons who spoke Italian. One he only heard briefly, the other he spoke with for a long time, and he spoke very good Italian.

 

“The identity of these persons had not been established. Mr D’Ambrosio, SISMI station chief in Milan, had told the prosecutors that it was Mr Castelli, CIA station chief in Rome and responsible for the CIA in Italy, who had planned the Abu Omar kidnapping, and that Mr Robert Lady had been opposed to the plan. According to Mr D’Ambrosio, Mr Robert Lady had asked him to tell his superiors about the plan, in the hope that SISMI would prevent CIA from going ahead with it. Mr D’Ambrosio had raised the matter with his superior, Mr Mancini, head of the counterintelligence division of SISMI.

 

“According to Mr D’Ambrosio, Mr Mancini had not expressed any views on the matter, and only asked whether Mr Lady was the source of the information, which Mr D’Ambrosio had confirmed. Mr D’Ambrosio was not able to go above Mancini, who said that he would convey the message to his superiors. Shortly thereafter, Mr D’Ambrosio was forced to leave the Milan office. Some time later he also left SISMI. The head of the Trieste SISMI office had said that he had been approached by Mr Mancini who had asked if he would be counted on for using ‘unorthodox methods’ with regard to terrorists. He refused and was transferred around the same time as Mr D’Ambrosio. In their investigations, the prosecutor had intercepted telephone communications between General Pignero, and Mr Mancini. The latter had expressed concerns that the prosecutor might identify people who on his orders had carried out checks on Abu Omar in preparation of the kidnapping. Mr Mancini admitted having organised a meeting of SISMI heads from northern Italy where it was decided to carry out the checks.

 

“According to Mr Mancini, General Pollari, the head of SISMI, had given him a list of names, including the name of Abu Omar, and given him indications to keep Abu Omar under observation in the run-up to the kidnapping. Mr Mancini had said that SISMI was only involved in the surveillance before the kidnapping. Mr Spataro had not found any evidence that SISMI had taken part in the kidnapping itself. General Pollari had refused to answer any questions, claiming that the information that he had was classified as a state secret which if revealed would compromise Italy’s relations with other governments. […]”

 

September 7th, 2006 - Exchange of Views with Carlo Bonini, Journalist of “La Repubblica”, Italy

Report by the Council of the European Union

 

“[…] Mr Coelho introduced Mr Bonini - an Italian investigative journalist dealing with national and international cases, including that of Abu Omar. Mr Bonini has been questioned by the Italian authorities and his computer has being searched. […]

 

“Mr Fava (PSE, IT) raised the question of the responsibilities of the Italian and US intelligence. Given that there seems to exist in Italy an agency dealing with particular information from journalists, he wanted to know how it worked, what its structure was and whether Mr Bonini was actually a victim of this particular agency. He also referred to an article by Mr Bonini of 8 July 2006 mentioning a carabinieri marshal who confessed to having taken part in the arrest of Abu Omar and asked whether Mr Bonini had any further information.

 

“Mr Bonini replied that he had found out about the existence of that secret agency in July 2006. Around 5 July, custody measures were taken by the police and his office was searched. He added that the task of the agency seemed to be the collection of data and its transfer to military secret services. He concluded that that office was not simply carrying out studies and gathering information, but rather manipulating information and trying to manipulate public opinion through disinformation. At least one case is known of a professional Italian journalist who was used to try to obtain certain information. Moreover, he claimed that a false dossier was created in order to suggest the involvement of Mr Prodi and that a campaign of disinformation was launched after the Abu Omar case. According to Mr Bonini, it is clear that Italian services were aware of Abu Omar rendition. Although Mr Pironi was the only one who admitted to having been involved in the Abu Omar rendition, investigations by the prosecutor of Milan revealed that the secret services at middle-management level were also involved in the arrest. […]”

 

 

Photo Credits

 

1) This surveillance photo of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr was found on a CD in the home of the CIA’s head officer in Milano, Robert Seldon Lady, according to Italian police. - 2003 - First published by the Italian newspaper “Corriere Della Sera”;

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