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Italy: Documents sent to European Parliament committee on renditions allege other renditions and details of Abu Omar cover-up and the Britel rendition
01 November 2006
Documents sent to the European Parliament's committee investigating renditions in October 2006 by the Milan prosecuting magistrate Armando Spataro and Francesca Maria Longhi, the Italian lawyer representing rendition victim Abou Elkassim Britel, a Moroccan who has Italian citizenship, provide new details of the cover-up that followed the Abu Omar kidnapping, document the Italian authorities' knowledge of the Britel rendition, and refer to the possible rendition of an Egyptian national, Mohammed Morgan, from Italy to his home country in late September 2003.
Another alleged rendition and details of Abu Omar cover-up
A document confiscated in a flat used by SISMi (Italy's military intelligence service) in Rome on 5 July 2006, that was sent by investigating magistrate Antonio Spataro to the European Parliament's committee looking into renditions, indicates that SISMi provided false information to suggest that Mustafa Hassan Osama Nasr, aka Abu Omar, had absconded, and knew since at least 15 May 2003 that he was detained and being interrogated in a secret location in Egypt. The document contains a compilation of SISMi notes concerning the Abu Omar case.
Abu Omar was kidnapped in Milan on 17 February 2003, before being taken to the U.S. airbase in Aviano (in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia), interrogated and flown to Egypt. Details of the investigations that were underway into the Al Qaida network in Italy, in which Abu Omar was suspected of being a key element in contact with Al Ansar in Iraq and the Egyptian Al Jihad network, as well as providing money and false documents to allow alleged members of terrorist groups to travel, are also included in the documentation. Claims in official SISMi documents that Abu Omar usually only carried photocopies of his documents but was carrying his authentic ones on the day of the kidnapping are dismissed as "false" by Spataro - this may have been a way to infer that the man had disappeared voluntarily by going underground. In reference to the Abu Omar case, a note by the research department dated 15 May 2003 includes an aside stating, "according to the CIA he is under arrest in Egypt, interrogated in a secret location".
A note from SISMi dated 27 July 2003, details the allegations made by Abu Omar's wife in a note that was distributed outside mosques and Islamic centres accusing the Italian police and authorities of involvement in, and responsibility for, the kidnapping (he had been under surveillance until his kidnapping). She also criticised the Muslim community and its leaders for not doing enough to help her to find out what had happened to her husband. Commentary concerning the note claims that relatives living in Cairo had found out that Abu Omar was in an Egyptian prison and that responsibility for the kidnapping was still being attributed to the Egyptian intelligence services, which had denied its involvement. A note about an article published in Albanian newspaper Gazeta Shiqiptare on 5 September 2003 states that the author cited Italian secret service sources indicating two possible scenarios: a kidnapping by the Egyptian secret services, or that Abu Omar had voluntarily gone into clandestinity. Nonetheless, it later claims that the author probably used open sources, that is, reports from the Italian press, rather than obtaining the information directly from SISMi sources.
A second alleged rendition is also referred to, that of the Egyptian national Morgan Mohammed. A "very reserved" SISMI note dated 30 October 2003 states that rumours in the Islamic community suggested that Morgan Mohammed was in detention in Egypt, and that three non-EU nationals had seen him being forced into a van in Vigevano, the town in Lombardy where he lived, around a month earlier. Reda Mohammed, an imam from Milan's Via Quaranta mosque, is reported as suggesting that the man had suffered the same fate as Abu Omar. The imam also reportedly argued that the Egyptian secret services' stategy to elimi