Abu Omar

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Person.png Abu Omar  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Abu Omar CIA.jpg
Image from the CIA's surveillance of Abu Omar recovered during investigations by the prosecuting authorities in Milan
Born18 March 1963
Victim of • “Extraordinary rendition”
• Torture
An Egyptian cleric who was kindnapped in Milan by the CIA in 2003 and sent to Egypt where he was subject to torture.

Abu Omar, also known as 'Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr', is an Egyptian cleric. In 2003 he was living in Milan, Italy, from where he was kidnapped and later tortured in Egypt.[1] This prompted a series of investigations in Italy, culminating in the criminal convictions (in absentia) of 22 CIA operatives, a U.S. Air Force colonel, and two Italian accomplices.

Abduction by the CIA

On February 17, 2003, Nasr was abducted by CIA agents [1] as he walked to his mosque in Milan for noon prayers, thus becoming an effective ghost detainee. He was later transported to a prison in Egypt where he was tortured.[2]

In April 2004, while his incarceration had been downgraded to house arrest, Nasr placed several phone calls from Egypt to his family and friends. He told them he had been rendered into the hands of Egypt's State Security Intelligence (SSI) at Tura prison, twenty miles south of Cairo.[3] He said he had been subjected to various depredations, tortured by beating and electric shocks to the genitals, raped, [4] and eventually had lost hearing in one ear.[5] At the time of the calls he had been released on the orders of an Egyptian judge because of lack of evidence. Shortly after those calls were made he was re-arrested and placed back in prison.

Omar's case has been qualified by Swiss senator Dick Marty as a "perfect example of extraordinary rendition". On 4 November 2009, an Italian judge convicted in absentia 22 CIA agents, a USAF colonel and two Italian secret agents of the kidnap.[6] Eight other American and Italian defendants were acquitted.[6] USAF Lieutenant Colonel Joseph L. Romano, at the time of the conviction commander of the 37th Training Group of the 37th Training Wing, and 21 of the American defendants received five-year prison sentences. Former Milan CIA station chief, Robert Seldon Lady, received an eight year prison sentence. The convicts were also ordered to each pay 1 million Euros to Omar and 500,000 Euros to Omar's wife. [7] These convictions have been viewed in the media as being largely symbolic as none of these individuals are currently in Italian custody, and the Italian government has declined to seek their extradition.

The abduction prompted a series of investigations and intrigues within the Italian intelligence community and criminal justice system; in the Italian press, these are collectively referred to as the Imam Rapito (or "kidnapped Imam") affair.

Release in February 2007

On February 11, 2007, Mr Omar's lawyer Montasser el-Zayat confirmed that his client had been released and was now back with his family.[8] After four years of detention, an Egyptian court ruled that his imprisonment was "unfounded." [9]

He still could face arrest as a suspected terrorist and associate of terrorists if he returns to Italy.


A Document by Abu Omar

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)
Document:My CIA Renditionstatement17 March 2011"Extraordinary rendition"


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:The Rendition of Abu OmararticleAugust 2007John Foot
Document:Why the CIA went astray over Abu Omararticle6 July 2005Trowbridge Ford
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