Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Who Really Kidnapped Abu Omar?

by soj Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 11:20:57 AM EST

Naturally, everyone's been focused on the London bombings lately. But something perhaps far more sinister, with further implications, has been going on in Italy.

At the end of June, a major story broke that CIA operatives had kidnapped a man named Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr ("Abu Omar") off the streets of Milan in 2003. The man was flown out of an American airbase to Egypt, where he was "rendered" or turned over to authorities there to be tortured to extract information.

That investigation is still ongoing, but on July 2 the Chicago Tribune presented an alternative view: that Abu Omar was actually a CIA informant who had stopped cooperating:

Evidence gathered by prosecutors here, who have charged 13 CIA operatives with Abu Omar's kidnapping, indicates that the abduction was a bold attempt to turn him back into the informer he once was.

According to the prosecutor's application for the 13 warrants, when Abu Omar reached Cairo on a CIA-chartered aircraft, he was taken straight to the Egyptian interior minister.

If he agreed to inform for the Egyptian intelligence service, Abu Omar "would have been set free and accompanied back to Italy," the document said.

Alternatively, the senior official said, the Americans may have hoped the Egyptians could learn something by interrogating Abu Omar about planned resistance to the impending war on Iraq.

Abu Omar refused to inform, according to the document, and spent the next 14 months in an Egyptian prison facing "terrible tortures." After a brief release in April 2004, he was imprisoned again.

The source of the prosecution's information is Mohammed Reda, another Egyptian imam living in Milan and one of the first people Abu Omar called during his brief release.

Asked to assess Reda's credibility, the prosecution official asserted that "in this case, he had no reason to lie. And when he made his first statements, he was unaware he was being intercepted" by a police wiretap on his cell phone.
According to the article, Abu Omar was recruited in 1995 by the Albanian National Intelligence Service, known by the acronymn ShIK. Due to a lack of funding, the ShIK turned over control of its counter-Islamic terrorism program to the American CIA.

ShIK picked up Abu Omar in a general security sweep and after interrogating him, they discovered he was a fount of information about Islamic organizations including Jamaat al Islamiya, which later fell under the "umbrella" of Al-Qaeda.

Although Abu Omar seemed to have an amicable relationship with both Albanian and later Egyptian security services, in 1997 he moved to Italy where he was granted "political refugee" status. He moved to Milan and began to preach, and after September 11, these sermons grew more "fiery". Italian authorities began to suspect he was part of a network:
When the Milan prosecutors applied for a warrant for Abu Omar's arrest, the only alleged offenses they listed were "association with terrorists," aiding the preparation of false documents and abetting illegal immigration.

Although the police had grounds for Abu Omar's arrest, the tap on his phone and the microphones hidden in his apartment and the Via Quaranta mosque made him far more valuable as a window into the comings and goings of other jihadists.

"When you find an important member of an organization," the senior prosecution official said, "you don't arrest him immediately, you follow him. When Nasr disappeared in February [2003], our investigation came to a standstill."

What mystified the Italian authorities was why the CIA would want to take Abu Omar out of circulation—especially since they were sharing with the CIA the fruits of their electronic surveillance of Abu Omar—and why the Egyptians would want him back.
What makes the case even more mysterious is how poorly it was conducted - agents using ordinary cell phones, staying in luxurious hotels - and nearly every move traced and recorded by Italian police:
According to the police version of events, the CIA's special removal unit (SRU) can whistle up private jets to fly its captives unseen across international frontiers.

A Learjet allegedly took Abu Omar from the joint US base at Aviano in Italy to another US base at Ramstein, Germany, then a chartered Gulfstream V whisked him to Cairo. Yet barely a dollar was spent on making the team's communications secure.

The secret agents used ordinary cellphones. Italian investigators put names to the abductors by matching their calls to the phone contracts they had signed. And they could be sure of the team's movements because they could see when the calls had been made and from which cellphone.

In at least one case, calls were traced to a phone that was apparently returned to a US diplomatic pool. After a silence it was reactivated by an American citizen using the antenna 100m from the US embassy in Rome.

Investigators suspected Abu Omar was taken to Aviano, on discovering three calls made after the abduction by the apparent leader of the SRU to the mobile of the base's then security chief.

A second surprise is the numbers involved. The Italian investigators say they have identified 23 members of the operation, and have been able to put names to 20 of them. At least six were women and -- a third surprise -- there seem to have been intimate links between male and female colleagues.

SRU members made several, apparently recreational, trips within Italy as they waited to seize Abu Omar and, on at least two occasions, couples booked into double rooms.
The Italian government, including Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, later stated that they had absolutely no knowledge of the operation to abduct Abu Omar.

Which leads to a real conundrum - Abu Omar was being tracked and his movements monitored, his phone calls recorded, and all of this information was being passed on directly to the CIA. So why would the CIA suddenly swoop down and abduct this man in broad daylight (with witnesses) and neglect to tell the Italian authorities? And why would they do such a bungling job that nearly every step they made was later traced by the Italian authorities, up to and including the names of the people involved?

Now set aside that story for a minute and let's switch gears to a parallel story - that of Gaetano Saya and the DSSA.

On July 1, Italian police made two arrests as part of an investigation into an organization called the Department of Anti-Terrorism Strategic Studies (DSSA). The investigation, started in Genoa, extends into more than nine regions and involves at least two dozen individuals.

The DSSA was an organization created after the 2004 Madrid bombings (March) to "combat Islamic extremism". While it has an official sounding name, it is actually an independent organization headed by a man named Gaetano Saya. Saya recruited up to 150 members of Italian police and security agencies to simultaneously work for DSSA. These members would share with DSSA the work their organizations were conducting, and it seems at least one member gave DSSA access to the Interior Ministry's computer network (with its anti-terrorism information).

Many of the DSSA-affiliated members are considered "top" police officials. And while the Genoa investigation says that DSSA was gaining access to this information illegally, Saya says that DSSA's work was both "legal" and "well-known".

So who is Gaetano Saya? He's a well-known member of an extreme nationalist group called "Destra Nazionale" or "National Rightists" in English. Their website is online and can be viewed here. It's very open about its mission, which is to defend and support Italian "patriots" and to defend the "homeland". It's also anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim extremists and uses a lot of imagery of soldiers of the Middle Ages in the Crusade to reclaim the "Holy Land" from Muslims. I note here that most of the figures pictured look like members of the Knights Templar.

Saya's organization is an offshoot of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), which was a neo-fascist party founded after World War 2 by supporters of Mussolini.

The MSI was officially disbanded in 1995, with the more moderate (but still virulently nationalist) wing becoming the Allianza Nazionale (a coalition member of the gov't). More hardcore splinter factions emerged, including Mussolini's granddaughter's Alternativa Sociale and the Fiamma Tricolore (three-colored flame). And of course Saya's MSI-DN faction, which is not even a registered political party.

It was when Saya was arrested that RAI news reported that he and his associates might be linked to the Gladio network, which piqued my curiosity.

The word "Gladio" is Latin and refers to a short sword carried by Roman soldiers. Operation Gladio was a codename for a NATO operation set up shortly after the end of World War 2 by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). Time for a brief history lesson:

NATO was formed on April 4, 1949 as an alliance of the United States (and Canada) and western European countries to counter the threat of the Soviet Union. While Nazi Germany was firmly defeated, the threat of Soviet military domination of Europe was considered a realistic possibility.

SHAPE was created in 1951 as a way to unify the command of NATO, with Eisenhower as the first Supreme Allied Commander. One of SHAPE's first secret projects was Operation Gladio, a network of anti-communist "sleeper cells" referred to as "stay behind" (it's also interesting to note here that SHAPE's official symbol is of two crossed Gladio swords). Their mission was that in the eventuality that communist forces came into power in W. Europe, these cells (consisting of people who didn't flee, or "stayed behind) would be activated to perform "partisan" or "guerilla" activities behind the lines. In other words, commit terrorism, distribute propaganda and coordinate with non-communist countries' agents to sabotage the conquering communists.

The CIA was the primary financier of Operation Gladio and it is reported that Allen Dulles was one of the principle architects of Operation Gladio.

Operation Gladio was extremely extensive in Italy because there was (and remains) a strong Communist movement there. While the demise of the Soviet Union ended the overriding need for any Operation Gladio, it seems evident that remnants of that network still exist, their focus now shifted more to anti-immigrant, xenophobic and anti-Muslim activities.

One of the most famous, or notoriously public, members of Operation Gladio was a man named Licio Gelli, who was both a fascist supporter of Mussolini as well as a member of Masonic and other secret societies. One of those secret societies was a "Masonic" organization called Propaganda Due (P2), which Gelli was the leader of. I say "Masonic" because it is an offshoot of the establishment Masonic organization.

In 1981, a police raid on his house in Arezzo found documents that listed all of P2's members, which caused a major political scandal (and forced the Prime Minister to resign) because a lot of important politicians, government employees, intelligence agency members/agents and military officers were all members. I might add here that one P2 member was Silvio Berlusconi, now the Prime Minister of Italy, although at the time he had not run for any political office.

P2 has been involved with, or alleged to have been involved with, a long list of secret criminal enterprises, from the murder of Prime Minister Aldo Moro to the 1980 bombing of a train station in Bologna (at the time the mayor was Communist and the Communist party was dominant in local politics) to the murder of Roberto Calvi, who had strong ties with both the mafia and the Vatican.

Exploring what P2 has been involved with or allegedly done leads one into tinfoil hat territory (including the death of Pope John Paul 1), but it must be stated that it is clear that P2 continues to exist today and that it has strong ties to the network of Operation Gladio.

Whether Fiamme Tricolore, Operation Gladio, the DSSA or Gaetano Saya's MSI-ND, there is an established xenophobic and virulently nationalistic and anti-Islamic group of powerful people operating in Italy. And while Saya may be somewhere far down the list, it seems reasonable that his ideology and activities are consistent with this network.

Now... there are allegations that it wasn't actually the CIA who abducted Abu Omar off the streets of Milan in 2003, but agents tied to this network:
Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga has quickly distanced the parallel intelligence network from official intelligence and police networks by claiming the two men arrested are just criminals and not tied to the Italian Gladio, which a number of intelligence experts believe Cossiga once headed. Cossiga also defended the secret U.S. intelligence operation in Italy that is presently under attack by Milan prosecutors. Cossiga said that by not telling the Italian government of the operation, the U.S. avoided having its secret plans spread throughout the Middle East.

By mentioning both the Milan and Genoa cases, Cossiga may have unintentionally linked the two. The parallel intelligence network is reportedly the outgrowth of a Gladio network consisting of six divisions that operated in Italy, North Africa, and the Middle East during the Cold War. The P-2 Lodge, headed by fascist leader Licio Gelli, reportedly maintained close links to former Secretary of State Alexander Haig and his one-time foreign affairs adviser, Michael Ledeen.

A number of SISMI agents and assets have also been tied to the group, including Francesco Pazienza, an SISMI agent, and Rocco Martino, who said he was the source of the faked Niger yellowcake uranium documents that were laundered through Rome and used as proof by the Bush White House that Saddam Hussein was shopping for uranium in Niger. That charge prompted the CIA to send Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger, resulting in a retaliatory outing of Wilson's wife as a covert CIA operative and exposure by the White House of the CIA's covert weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation network.
If so, it would explain the apparently unprofessional actions the group who abducted Abu Omar, using ordinary cell phones and conspicuously living the high life in major Italian hotels. It also helps explain the apparent contradiction of the CIA abducting a man whom they had under full surveillance and why they wouldn't inform the Italians of their plan to grab him.

In fact, Robert Bauer, a former CIA agent, stated that the CIA would never have abducted Abu Omar without informing the Italians beforehand:
"I just have one clear and simple thing to say about this story of the Egyptian imam. In my career I have never seen, taken part in or known of one single extraordinary rendition operation carried out by the CIA without the assent of the country in which a suspect was kidnapped. Never."
Michael Scheuer, another ex-CIA (known for his book Imperial Hubris and also for being the former chief of the Bin Laden taskforce), said that he thought Italy's SISMI (akin to the CIA but a division of the military) had authorized the abduction, but Berlusconi said:
"Neither the government, nor diplomatic corps, nor the director of the SISMI, nor the information and security apparatus ever received any sort of advisement from United States authorities." Berlusconi later summoned the US ambassador, Mel Sembler, and is reported to have told him that the US must respect Italian sovereignty.

"It is a known fact that Italy is the country that, on the eve of the war in Iraq, helped our administration fabricate fake evidence which justified our military intervention," said Bauer. "And so it isn't even imaginable that the CIA, on the eve of the war in Iraq, could have even conceived of embarrassing Silvio Berlusconi with a clandestine operation that didn't have Italy's approval."

"The Abu Omar case has turned into a mess because no-one should ever have known about it. But as Italy has an independent judicial authority and those who carried out the operation did it in a superficial way, we find ourselves here discussing it," the former CIA agent said.

"In clandestine operations, they don't use mobile phones, they use transmitter receivers which they take with them for the occasion. The team removing the target doesn't stay in big hotels, but lives in a "sterilised" apartment rented earlier, and not in the name of a non-existent American citizen, but rented to an non-existent European citizen."
Looking at Saya's website however, he seems to agree with Bauer in the fact that Nicolo Pollari, the head of SISMI, was affiliated with his organization, leading to the possibility that he did secretly authorize the abduction of Abu Omar. Authorities have found a greeting card from Pollari to Saya in Saya's home in Florence, which Saya's wife is saying "proves" that the Italian authorities were well aware of DSSA and its activities. According to Saya:
About the [DSSA's] existance, the Interior Ministry, Ministry of Defense, Justice Department, Attorney General's Office, the [Italian version of the] IRS, the American and Israeli Embassies all knew. And SHAPE, the Supreme Allied Command of Europe."
In a separate but related case, an agent named Antonio Arconte (whose code name was Agent G71), who worked for the Italian Ministry of Defense, has given information to prosecutors in Palermo, including 40 pages of documents that allegedly show that Nicolo Pollari had falsified documents about the abduction of Aldo Moro.

Clearly there's a lot more investigation that needs to be conducted before anyone will get to the truth, whatever that is. In my own research, it seems that more questions have been asked than answered, but it seems imperative that the spotlight be kept on this case.


Many thanks for this story.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 12:04:54 PM EST
I'll second that.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal
by chocolate ink on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 05:03:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Italian angle is the scariest of all angles.  Everytime I look at it, it makes me feel like building a bombshelter and lining it with tin-foil.

The history of Italian espionage is far stranger than fiction.

by BooMan on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 01:57:07 PM EST
Since Badoglio's government in 1943, Italian espionage and American espionage have been intimately intertwined.

They've tried all possible positions.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 05:37:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sirocco will (again) call me a kook for this. whatever.

the implications of this abduction are clear to whomever wants to see these implications. first thing when dealing with info coming from the world of secret services is to believe nothing and to question everything. second is to always remember that, if we outsiders get any info from that world, it is for a reason and not by chance, in most cases anyway.

now, lets ask two questions:

  1. why would anybody OUTSIDE the CIA want to abduct this person, a good intel source to the italian anti-terror forces, and take him to egypt to be tortured ?

  2. why would the CIA want to abduct this person, a good intel source to the italian anti-terror forces, and take him to egypt to be tortured ?

lets try to find answers.

1) this would depend on who this "anybody outside CIA" is. if we take "CIA" to be people from any of the 15 or so known secret services from the US, for the sake of argument we could say that "others" could be either employees of one of the many western or "allied" secret services, organized crime, or some muslim secret service. we know from above that abu omar was cooperating with the albanian ss and later with the italian ss, having been on good terms with both. also, according to above, he received refugee status and soon afterward started to preach. why would sismi want to kidnap abu omar ? i dont know, it does not make any sense to me.

the same for the albanian secret service: it really makes no sense. the mafia ? somehow difficult to believe that a radical muslim preacher and informant would in any way endanger their prostitution and drug smuggling operations. apart from all these groups having no discernible (to me) motives to kidnap the guy, how could they call in a jet from the american gulag express, start from aviano, make a stopover at an american base in germany and hand him over to an american ally (egypt) to be tortured ? i see no motive and i see no capability with these groups to do such a weird thing.

2) now lets ask ourselves why would the CIA want to abduct an informant ? by what we know he was cooperating with the albanian secret service who turned the anti-muslim operations over to the CIA because they didnt have money themselves. so he was cooperating with the CIA from the start. later he was also in good terms with the egyptian secret services, but then he decides to move to italy (it does not say he had to flee) in order to receive "refugee status". thus we come to the next questions:

  • how can somebody "caught in a security sweep" in albania can return to egypt and still be in good relations with the security services there ?

  • why would somebody in good terms with the secret services of his country go abroad and receive "refugee status" ?

  • why would italy give "refugee status" to somebody in good terms with the security services of his country ?

i happen to know first hand how difficult it is for anybody to receive refugee status here in austria. the authorities check the people thoroughly and i am sure the italians are as thorough. austrian stats are clear: each year between 400-600 persons receive the status of refugee according to geneva conventions, out of 30K-40K applicants.

my take on these three questions is that abu omar was an informant all the way, and, given that he was preaching in a "fiery" way, i suppose he was more than merely an informant. lets suppose he was an intel operative sent by the egyptians and under supervision of western intel agencies. would that fit what he was doing, namely informing on his people and at the same time radicalizing them until one of his flock perhaps would do something regretful ?

so, if we accept that he was an intel operative under total control of western intel agencies, why would the CIA want to kidnap this person ?

because he was playing the part of rabble rouser ? i think that given his history, he must have been sent to do exactly that, probably according to the wishes of the italians and the americans and ...

now, if it was not because he was a fiery preacher, could it have been because of something else he was doing ? his job as an informant ? dont forget he was informing to the SISMI, and the SISMI was telling the americans everything, at least according to what soj posted above. but lets suppose that he was too good an informant and that the SISMI was beginning to come to conclusions of their own regarding the activity of "islamists" like abu omar. lets suppose, for the sake of argument, that he was giving them insights into what and who "al-qaeda" is and the americans did not like that at all. lets suppose the americans were scared shitless the italians would come to conclusions which would influence their policies in ways very disfavorable to american interests.

lets suppose the italians were getting info thru abu omar which showed that "al-qaeda" is a sham, a false flag op run by the CIA, the brits, and other associates of ill repute. lets suppose for just a moment that they decided to extract poor abu omar before the shit hit the fan. and lets suppose they did it too late and they sent a bunch of incompetents to do the job because else we'd never have got wind of this. would this answer question 2 ?


the article by wayne madsen which is referenced above comes to the same conclusion, but he goes further and says that nicola calipari was probably shot in connection with this. i've been reading that the italians and the brits are planning to get out of iraq soon. could those decisions be related to the abu omar case ?

on being a kook and living in tinfoil hat territory, i can assure you all that it is no fun. on the one side you have all kind of people who would not believe you and who are disposed to insult you and smack you down as a "conspiracy theorist". on the other side, you see things happening which constantly confirm your low opinion of the political class and your wildest suspicions. niccolo machiavelli said about conspiracies that those scheming should keep their plans to themselves, but that there was no great danger if the plans leaked, because in most cases these outsiders would be unable to do anything about the schemers, and if they tried to spread their knowledge nobody would believe them until it was too late do do anything about the conspiracy anyway.

by name (name@spammez_moi_sivouplait.org) on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 02:10:19 PM EST
why would anybody OUTSIDE the CIA want to abduct this person, a good intel source to the italian anti-terror forces

Man, if you would just get the basic evidence right...

He was a source to the CIA, not the Italians.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 02:15:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I live in a small apartment in Romania and the only group or person I work for is myself.  Therefore I have no secret or inside knowledge of what happened.

That being said... you must remember that there is more than one intelligence agency in the USA and that the CIA has long been on the "outs" with the White House.  It is not inconceivable that non-CIA intelligence agencies in the US worked with the Italian DSSA to extract Omar in some attempt to "break" a case.


Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 03:01:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The CIA was the primary financier of Operation Gladio and it is reported that Allen Dulles was one of the principle architects of Operation Gladio.

Each western country part of the Atlantic Alliance had set up a shadow government, interlaced with the real world of state officials, military, police and corporations. Intention was to start functioning by a Soviet invasion of Europe, possessed weapons and explosives caches, fuel storage and bomb experts to sabotage pre-determined targets.

In Belgium, the Nijvel gang has been suspect for their members belonging to this secretive organisation. In the Netherlands it was dismantled - but who can tell? Possible links with a number of high-level bribes offered in deals for military equipment, fighter planes and helicopters.

Just my own analysis of a long range of news tid bits, executions, killings and unsolved or inexplicable crimes committed.

NATO SG Willy Claes and the Agusta affair, Prince Bernhard and the Lockheed affair, Murder of Cools in Luik and the strange affair of VanDenBoeynants.

USA WELCOME: Make Yourself Known @BooMan Tribune and add some cheers!

by Oui on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 03:57:09 PM EST
Abu Omar was an informant for the Albanian Intelligence Service, ShIK. ShIK was practically created with CIA help. Many of their agents are on the CIA payroll. It's a technicality but Abu Omar did not directly turn over information to the CIA.

In spydom his behavior is fairly common. It works both ways. Perhaps he got something in exchange.

Italian authorities investigating Abu Omar never knowingly dealt with the CIA. The Dambruoso investigation was carried out through the DIGOS, which collaborates with the FBI. It's not them to know if the FBI agents were undercover CIA agents, or that the FBI passed on information to the CIA. DIGOS sources have declared that they feel they were double-crossed by the FBI agents and Robert Seldon Lady. It was not known at the time that Lady was a CIA tramp.

Madsen is vintage tin-foil. Garbled timelines, facts with a generous side-order of fancy.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 04:30:38 PM EST
I agree with you about Madsen however the fact remains that a group of people abducted a man off the streets of Milan in broad daylight in February 2003, the run-up to the war of Iraq, and spirited him away through the American air base at Aviano.  

Whomever Abu Omar was feeding information to, the mystery in this case is why was his abduction handled so unprofesionally?


Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 11:47:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most likely because the CIA, like all other bureacries, is chock full of incompetent officers and fiedl workers. I thouhg their failings in the  Cold War had alerady established that,not to mention 9/11 and the war on terror.

Having lived in italy for several years, I have to agree with deGondi. This is moving too much into tin-foil territory. I don't the DSSA was involved in the kidnapping, though I'm sure they would like to claim credit for it.

by gilgamesh (expat at 6719 dot it) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 03:44:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again I admit that much of this is heading into "tinfoil hat" territory.. however it's not just the unprofessional conduct of the group who abducted Abu Omar, it's the political ramifications of why the American gov't wouldn't inform the Italians, especially since the US knew for a fact the Italians had this man under close surveillance.

In other words, there are two mysterious components to this case:

  1. Why his abduction was handled so unprofessionally; and
  2. Why it was handled so poorly at the political level, esp between two key allies

I can't say the DSSA did this because I have no idea who did it.  But I sourced two CIA people who said that the agency doesn't operate that way.


Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 04:38:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But one of the points of controversy, leaving asdie everything else, from the POV of the Italian papers and newmaginzed I've been reading, is precisely the question of wthere or not the Italian goverbement knew about the operation.

If it did, it would constitute a vere severe violation of the constitution and this gives the governemtnt an obvious incentive to deny its involvement.

It was definetely messed up badly on both sides, but then so was "caso Calipari."

by gilgamesh (expat at 6719 dot it) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 06:39:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Italy we are privy to lot more info than is on the net thanks to paper editions. Which means that there are a lot more blind men here to sass out the elephant.

My impression is that there was a good deal of brashness and cock-sure arrogance in handling the kidnapping. When la Repubblica first carried this story in February there was a lengthy account of Abu Omar's telephone calls to his wife and a friend when he was briefly under house arrest in Egypt. He told his friend that the primary interest of his captors was to convince him to become a double agent for the Egyptians and the CIA. According to his account- and we have no reason to doubt it since it was an intercepted private conversation- his captors said that they would put him on the next plane back to Milan if he had accepted. He didn't and spent the next fourteen months on a steady regime of torture.

Now, one might conclude from this that since Abu Omar had been soft with the ShIK, his captors might have been gambling on a round-trip ticket. Hence their brashness in carrying out the operation. (I think WP carried this version, too.)

There is another possible scenario hinted to in various Unità and la Repubblica articles that are, well, not on line. You'll just have to trust me. According to the investigating authorities, there is evidence that the operation was run by the Rome case officer, Jeff Castelli, who has been characterized by some reporters as being overbearing. According to this scenario, Seldon Lady was against the operation but obeyed as a good soldier should. Castelli was "recalled" to Washington by Tenet in the summer of 2003 apparently for maverick behavior both in the Niger caper and the Abu Omar case. However, in an interview, Scheuer defends both Jeff Castelli, and Jim Pavett, whom he indicates as the Langley officer in charge of the Abu Omar operation.

The actual ground work for the operation was allegedly done by CIA operative, Victor Castellano.

There are plenty of cases of CIA operations within allied territories that contradict Scheuer and Bauer. Now that they're on the talk-show celeb circuit maybe they're chipping in with a little damage control. I'm sure Langley silently approves.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 05:28:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Italian authorities claim to know nothing about the rendition of Abu Omar, this article claims differently: Nicolo Pollari, the head of SISMI, are supposed to secretly have authorized the abduction of Abu Omar.
Only problem, Pollari is now dead, and can't tell his story.

Reminds me of those guys rendered by the CIA from Sweden. Swedish authorities claim they know nothing about that.
Now there's some saying Anna Lindh, our former Secretary of State, is supposed to secretly have authorized that rendition.
Only problem, Anna Lindh is now dead, she was fatally stabbed in Stockholm 9/10 and she died the day after, 9/11 2003.

by high5 (high5104@gmail.com) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 07:10:32 AM EST
Nicolò is quite alive and well, thank you. He just had din-din with Sembler at the Embassy July 4th party. Well, he really just dropped in to say hello.

But quite frankly whether alive or dead, he's not the sort of person to talk. He still has a job which does require some discretion...

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 04:06:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Damn, those Italian names. I confused Nicola Calipari with Nicolò Polari. My bad.
by high5 (high5104@gmail.com) on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 02:51:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries