[Marxism] More conspiracy theories: Europeans Investigate CIA Role in Abductions PART 1
davidquarter at sympatico.ca
davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Sun Mar 13 13:26:22 MST 2005
Europeans Investigate CIA Role in Abductions
Suspects Possibly Taken To Nations That Torture
By Craig WhitlockWashington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, March 13, 2005; Page A01
MILAN -- A radical Egyptian cleric known as Abu Omar was walking to a Milan
mosque for noon prayers in February 2003 when he was grabbed on the sidewalk
by two men, sprayed in the face with chemicals and stuffed into a van. He hasn't
been seen since.
Milan investigators, however, now appear to be close to identifying his kidnappers.
Last month, officials showed up at Aviano Air Base in northern Italy and demanded
records of any American planes that had flown into or out of the joint U.S.-Italian
military installation around the time of the abduction. They also asked for logs of
vehicles that had entered the base. Italian authorities suspect the Egyptian was the
target of a CIA-sponsored operation known as rendition, in which terrorism suspects
are forcibly taken for interrogation to countries where torture is practiced.
The Italian probe is one of three official investigations that have surfaced in the past
year into renditions believed to have taken place in Western Europe. Although the
CIA usually carries out the operations with the help or blessing of friendly local
intelligence agencies, law enforcement authorities in Italy, Germany and Sweden
are examining whether U.S. agents may have broken local laws by detaining
terrorist suspects on European soil and subjecting them to abuse or maltreatment.
The CIA has kept details of rendition cases a closely guarded secret, but has
defended the controversial practice as an effective and legal way to prevent
terrorism. Intelligence officials have testified that they have relied on the tactic with
greater frequency since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Bush administration has received backing for renditions from governments that
have been criticized for their human rights records, including Egypt, Jordan and
Pakistan, where many of the suspects are taken for interrogation. But the
administration is getting a much different reception in Europe, where lawmakers and
prosecutors are questioning whether the practice is a blatant violation of local
sovereignty and human rights.
There are many practical and legal hurdles to filing criminal charges against U.S.
agents, including the question of whether they are protected by diplomatic immunity
and the matter of determining their identity. However, prosecutors in Italy and
Germany have not ruled out criminal charges. At the same time, the European
investigations are producing new revelations about the suspected U.S. involvement
in the disappearances of four men, not including the Egyptian, each of whom claims
they were physically abused and later tortured.
In Germany, a 41-year-old man, Khaled Masri, has told authorities that he was
locked up during a vacation in the Balkans and flown to Kabul, Afghanistan, in
January 2004, where he was held as a suspected terrorist for four months. He said
that only after his captors realized he was not the al Qaeda suspect they were
looking for did they take him back to the Balkans and dump him on a hillside along
the Albanian border. He recalled his captors spoke English with an American
German prosecutors, after several months of scrutinizing his account, have
confirmed several key parts of his story and are investigating it as a kidnapping.
"So far, I've seen no sign that what he's saying is incorrect. Many, many pieces of
the puzzle have checked out," said Martin Hofmann, a Munich-based prosecutor
overseeing the investigation. "I have to try to find out who held him, who tortured or
abused him, and who is responsible for this."
In Sweden, a parliamentary investigation has found that CIA agents wearing hoods
orchestrated the forced removal in December 2001 of two Egyptian nationals on a
U.S.-registered airplane to Cairo, where the men claimed they were tortured in
One of the men was later exonerated as a terrorism suspect by Egyptian police,
while the other remains in prison there. Details of the secret operation have shocked
many in Sweden, a leading proponent of human rights.
Although Swedish authorities had secretly invited the CIA to assist in the operation,
the disclosures prompted the director of Sweden's security police last week to
promise that his agency would never let foreign agents take charge of such a case
"In the future we will use Swedish laws, Swedish measures of force and Swedish
military aviation when deporting terrorists," Klas Bergenstrand, the security police
chief, told reporters. "That way we get full control over the whole situation."
Clues to a Mystery
In Milan, the Egyptian-born cleric attracted the attention of counterterrorism police
soon after arriving in Italy in 1997 from Albania. Known as Abu Omar, his full name
was Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr. He was 42, a veteran fighter from the wars in
Bosnia and Afghanistan and a wanted man in Egypt, where authorities had charged
him with belonging to an outlawed Islamic radical group.
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