CIA agents wanted by Italy for kidnapping of radical imam
by Lorenzo Vidino
June 24, 2005
Today Italian newspapers announced that authorities in Milan have indicted 13 CIA operatives for the kidnapping of Abu Omar, a radical Egyptian cleric that "disappeared" from the streets of the northern Italian city in February of 2003. The step represents a major upset to the CIA's "rendition" policy and could create a potential rift with one of its closest allies in the War on Terror.
Abu Omar was allegedly kidnapped by a group of men one cold morning in Milan, taken to a US military base in Northern Italy and flown to Egypt on a CIA jet. According to Italian authorities, Abu Omar was locked up in an Egyptian jail and tortured after he refused to become an informant for the Mukhabarat. The indictment alleges that the whole operation was planned by CIA agents stationed in Italy and that at least 13 agents took part to it. The operatives' sloppiness led Italian investigators to identify them, as the 13 used their cellphones to make calls and their passports to book hotels. Investigators allege that the agents even went to a luxurious Venice hotel to celebrate the success of the operation.
Predictably, Italian media, which name the names of some CIA operatives involved in the operation, harshly criticize the CIA operation, which, technically violated Italy's sovereignity. The indictment could potentially create difficulties to US authorities, not only because the 13 are now "burnt," but also because it could jeopardize cooperation with Italy, an important al Qaeda place of operation and a key ally.