Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr

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Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, is an Egyptian cleric, who was captured by American intelligence officials while he was living in Italy. Suspected of involvement in Jemaah Islamiah, he was interrogated at U.S. facilities, and then sent, by extraordinary rendition, to Egypt. Egypt, after imprisoning him with alleged torture, putting him in house arrest, and imprisoning him again, later released Nasr. [1]

Targeting and capture

Earlier, he was described as a CIA asset in Albania.[2] He was wanted, by Italy, for involvement in Jemaah Islamiah. Nasr fled to Albania but also sought refuge in Germany and Bosnia before settling in Italy in 1997.[3]

According to Italian anti-terrorism officials, the Central Intelligence Agency sent them a false report about his activities, to hide the fact that he already had been captured. ""The kidnapping of Abu Omar was not only a serious crime against Italian sovereignty and human rights, but it also seriously damaged counterterrorism efforts in Italy and Europe," according to Armando Spataro, the lead prosecutor in Milan. "In fact, if Abu Omar had not been kidnapped, he would now be in prison, subject to a regular trial, and we would have probably identified his other accomplices."[3]The anti-terrorism police said that telephone calls from Nasr, April and May 2003, who was under house arrest in Egypt, warned family and "religious colleagues at a Milan mosque that his Egyptian interrogators wanted to abduct three other people as well, transcripts of the wiretaps show. He was taken back to prison shortly thereafter when Egyptian security officials discovered that he had been in contact with the people in Italy, according to court records."

"Mohammed Reda, an Egyptian exile who lives in Milan, told Italian investigators that Nasr warned him on the phone that he was next on the Egyptian government's list of kidnapping targets."

Italian indictment of intelligence personnel

The prosecution is by an independent authority in Milan, and the Berlusconi government was not comfortable with it. Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, a member of Berlusconi's cabinet, had not approved the Italian extradition requests.[4]

The Italian government indicted 7 Italian and 25 American intelligence officials in 2007. They include Nicolo Pollari, former head of SISMI, the Italian military intelligence agency, and former station chief of CIA operations in Milan, Robert Seldon Lady, who said he opposed the capture, [5]

An Italian judge suspended the trial in 2007, awaiting a decision by the Constitutional Court as whether wiretaps and other intelligence information was admissible at trial. [6] That higher court ruled, in 2009, that state secrecy had been violated, and rejected much of the evidence. [7]


  1. Egypt releases 'rendition' cleric, BBC News, Monday, 12 February 2007. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
  2. John Crewdson, Tom Hundley. Abducted imam aided CIA ally, Chicago Tribune, July 3, 2005. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Craig Whitlock. CIA Ruse Is Said to Have Damaged Probe in Milan: Italy Allegedly Misled on Cleric's Abduction, Washington Post, Tuesday, December 6, 2005, p. A01. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
  4. A Cleric's Journey, Washington Post, Tuesday, December 6, 2005. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
  5. Italy orders CIA kidnapping trial, BBC News, 16 February 2007. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
  6. Elisabetta Povoedo (June 19, 2007), "Kidnapping Trial of C.I.A. Agents Is Suspended by Judge in Italy", New York Times
  7. Rachel Donadio (March 12, 2009), "Italian Court Upends Trial Involving C.I.A. Links", New York Times