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Eurojust Insignia and Headquarters In Dan Hague, the Netherlands
Italy Says CIA Agents Guilty of Abduction, Issues Europe-Wide Arrest Warrants
The Italian police say they have hard evidence that 13 CIA agents planned and executed what has become known as a 'rendition', when they abducted an Imam named Abu Omar from Milan and flew him to Egypt, where authorities are said to have tortured him.
By Paolo Biondani
June 27, 2005
MILAN: As of Monday, 13 CIA agents are being sought for
arrest throughout Europe. The agents are accused of abducting Imam Abu Omar
in Milan and taking him to
According to the American press, the CIA
is believed to have taken steps to relocate the operatives outside Europe. The investigation, which so far has involved the U.S. Consulate in
Milan, has now widened to include the
WANTED ALL OVER EUROPE
The public prosecutor's office has asked
police forensic scientists to enhance the photos of the 13 CIA abductors to
facilitate the Europe-wide search. The entire "photo album" will be forwarded
to Eurojust and Europol, the coordinating body for Europe's
police forces, to be circulated in particular at airports and border posts.
The ID photos of the wanted agents were seized by DIGOS officers at the 23
Italian hotels that the agents stayed in during three-months of preparation
for the week-long abduction operation. The three women and ten men used their
American passports to register at the hotels, many of which kept photocopies
of the documents. Some of the photocopies are a little dark, hence the request
to forensic scientists to make all thirteen faces identifiable.
EMBASSY CELL PHONES
CIA procedure does not necessarily involve
advising the local U.S. Embassy of covert operations. According to the arrest
warrants, in the case of the Abu Omar abduction the problem was that the abduction
was coordinated by Robert Lady, who was the CIA station chief working under
cover as "Consul of the
In this already delicate situation, police discovered that the cell phone used by Harty Benamar, one of the agents that carried out the abduction, was reactivated a year and a half later. [The abduction is said to have taken place on February 17, 2003].
The new user was an American citizen, S.L., who changed the number with a new SIM card but kept the cell phone, which can be identified by its IMEI code. The initial investigation found that the new user was working for the American diplomatic service in Rome. In addition to this, during normal business hours the cell phone always utilized the same base station, the TIM antenna in Viale Molise 4. This is the nearest base station to the American Embassy, which is only 100 meters away.
This seemingly incautious telephone reactivation convinced police that the cell phone was part of a batch supplied to the U.S. Embassy. Since some of the abductors were believed to have returned the phones to the Embassy after the operation, the reactivation of the phone used by S.L. confirmed police suspicions.
During the abduction, Bob Lady is known
to have used a landline and cell phone belonging to the Milan consulate. In addition, the cell phone of "subscriber
16," another of the abductors, was used by one of the six as-yet-unidentified
agents. This phone received a number of calls from two public phones in Rome. The pay phones are located in Via Veneto 2 and
Via del Tritone 56, both very close to the U.S. Embassy. It is suspected that
the pay phones were used to avoid direct contact between "subscriber 16" and
AT THE PENTAGON
In the next few hours, Milan will issue a formal request to