Italian Arrest Warrants Issued for CIA Agents

An Italian judge has issued arrest warrants for three CIA Agents and a U.S. military official for allegedly kidnapping Osama Nasr Mostafa.

An Italian judge has issued arrest warrants for four Americans — three CIA agents and a U.S. military official — in connection with the investigation into the alleged kidnapping of an Egyptian-born Muslim cleric in Milan in 2003.

Judge Enrico Manzi told CNN he also issued arrest warrants for two Italians, who are members of the Italian military intelligence service Sismi.

The warrants against the four Americans are in addition to warrants issued in December for 22 other Americans alleged to have been involved in the purported abduction.

The case revolves around the alleged kidnapping of Osama Nasr Mostafa Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, in February 2003.

At the time of his disappearance, Milan prosecutors were investigating him for alleged links to terrorism.

Prosecutors allege that a CIA team seized him, flew him to Egypt, and used torture as part of an interrogation there.

These allegations are troubling, if true. If the CIA actually kidnapped someone on Italian soil against the wishes or without the knowledge of the Italian government, then that would be a startling breach of the national sovereignty of an ally. What cause would any ally of ours have to trust us if we treat them like vassal states rather than partners? Stay tuned on this one, because even if the allegations are false, the investigation might turn up even more allegations of wrongdoing, which would tarnish America’s reputation in Europe even further.

If the allegations are true, it may well be that other allegations of active U.S. operations in Europe without authorization are true, also. Such operations in the sovereign territories of our allies might even be considered an act of war. It’s certainly an act of contempt for the valid legal considerations of our allies. If it turns out that we are behaving in this way, what’s to stop other countries from treating our sovereignty with equal contempt?

FILED UNDER: Europe, Intelligence, Military Affairs, National Security, Terrorism, World Politics, , , , , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.


  1. M. Murcek says:

    The CIA can’t seem to keep the right or the left happy these days. Hard to say what to make of that. A few weeks ago, Joe Wilson was hero to the left (because of his wife’s saintly CIA connection.) Can’t say I really remember who the last CIA operative was who was a hero to the right. Blackford Oakes?

  2. cirby says:

    …but do you want to take odds on whether the kidnapping actually happened, or if it was an official (and legal) Italian government op that they just didn’t inform the judge about?

  3. cirby,

    That’s a legitimate point, though it seems they would know, given how long ago it happened.

    IIRC, CIA agents kidnapped a guy a couple of years ago in Germany, with the national government’s knowledge, but the agents failed to remove the abductees’ cell phone batteries, allowing the local police to track them.

  4. Bhoe says:

    If it turns out that we are behaving in this way, what�s to stop other countries from treating our sovereignty with equal contempt?

    You don’t seem to get Bush’s logic: the US plays by a different set of rules than everyone else. We don’t worry about silly, euro-questions like the one you posed.

  5. Typical blogger story – jump to conclusions and speculate on the results before you really know what happened. Make assumptions based on claims from one side. Because, you know, Italian judges aren’t known to do and say stupid, crazy things.

  6. Don’t forget there has been a government change in Italy since this happened. I can as easily imagine that what had been approved clandestinely before would now be denied by the new government.

  7. legion says:

    Hell, there’s a gov’t change in Italy every few months, isn’t there? 🙂

    I can’t find the article right now, but I read just yesterday that the Italians arrested one of the senior directors of their own SISMI military intelligence agency in connection with the rendition investigation… I guess they’re taking it pretty seriously.

  8. Anderson says:

    The kidnapping itself is old news; what’s new is that there’s a government in Italy that’s interested in pursuing, not covering up, the story.

    Laura Rozen is all over this story, and if you’re not already following her excellent blog, this is a good time to bookmark it.

    Note as well that, contrary to the implication of the posted excerpt above, there’s reason to believe that Italian intel (joke here) was involved with the kidnapping.

  9. Legion,

    You are right that Berlusconi was an unusually long serving prime minister with the first post world war II full 5 year term (plus an 8 month term in the mid 90’s).

    I think the average for Italian prime ministers is about 1 year. So expect to see a new face about this time next year, which could have an impact on any court cases.

  10. Wayne says:

    Sorry for parsing words, if it was clandestine then Italy wouldnâ??t have been informed and the person involve if caught would be on their own. Covert Operation may have received permission from foreign government.

    As for allies spying on us, it already occurs. We had very close allies pulling eavesdropping at a military base overseas and were told to knock it off. We and every other nation in the world have operatives in many other countries including allies. Care is taken to not to be over aggressive and if caught varying actions do occur. Of course much of it depends on the mission that is being partake.

    This case sounds like a headstrong judge that is not going playing along with its government.

  11. Anderson says:

    Now, that’s weird: my earlier comment doesn’t show up in the thread, but when I click to add *this* comment, there it is.

    Wandering the purgatorial fogs of the OTB spam queue, I expect.

    Anyway, Laura Rozen’s blog, (maybe the naked HTML will foil the queue), is the place to keep up with this story.