Monday, June 27, 2005

Italy Seeks Revenge

It happened in 2003, a month before the Iraq war started. Here's Joy of Knitting's take on it:

Last Friday Milan’s District Attorney Office issued arrest warrants for thirteen CIA agents who had allegedly kidnapped an imam attached to a Milan mosque and suspected of being a terrorist. Apparently, they had subsequently taken him to the Aviano American military base (Northern Italy), then to Ramstein American military base (Germany) and finally to Egypt, where he was interrogated and perhaps tortured.
And Italy is hopping mad. There are several MSM reports, including The Boston Globe, though none say why Italy waited more than two years to issue the warrants.

The Globe notes that the warrants list dates and places of birth, credit card numbers, and American addresses of the alleged kidnappers. While the article speculates that these would be aliases anyway, the deliberate publication of the information shows the depth of the Italians' ire.

The man who was kidnapped was an imam in Milan, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. He was believed to be a member of Ansar al-Islam and to have ties with the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and al-Qaeda -- all of which may point to a motivation for the kidnapping, perhaps? Nasr, a native of Egypt who sought political asylum in Italy, had lived there for two years prior to his disappearance.

"He was involved in an organization that sent people to training camps in Kurdistan," said (an) Italian law enforcement official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. "He was involved in preparing false documents and passports for sending people in Iraq, [perhaps] to train for bomb attacks."

DIGOS, the Italian counter-terrorism police, had been closely following Nasr's activities. That came to an end when he disappeared. The following year he contacted his wife, telling her he was in Egypt and had been tortured by the authorities there.

Joy's take on the story is one of puzzlement at her country's anger:

At first I thought that it was something done just to abide by the official rules, and then forgotten about. After all, we are supposed to be on the same side and if Americans had overstepped their mark in the pursuit of an alleged terrorist a polite protest could suffice. I was wrong. Today, Monday, the Italian arrest warrant was transformed into a European arrest warrant and Italy has decided to go after the American agents employing the full force of the law.
She also has a long memory, recalling Italy's refusal to help years ago:

This reminds me of the time when Italian authorities refused to hand over the Islamic terrorists who had hijacked the Italian cruise ship “Achille Lauro” and killed one of the passengers, American Leo Klinghofer, and then allowed at least one of them to escape. I was so nauseated then that I’ve been wanting to apologize to someone in the US ever since.
Apology accepted. Now, Europe: continue with your snit fit. The war will go on without you.