Giles Trendle: European Collusion in Rendition


Europe seems to have been caught giving a nod and a wink in the dark to the CIA policy referred to in media circles as ‘extraordinary rendition’.
Fourteen European states colluded with the CIA in secret US flights ferrying terror suspects around the world, according a report published last week by Europe’s human rights watchdog.
The Council of Europe report states that the policy practiced by the CIA, which has become known as “extraordinary rendition”, could operate only with “the intentional or grossly negligent collusion of the European partners”.
Extraordinary rendition involves seizing terror suspects and taking them to third countries without court approval. There have been allegations some were tortured.
At the end of last year we made a documentary on extraordinary rendition. We discovered there appeared to be evidence that the Europeans knew more than they were letting on about the seizure and transport of citizens or suspects on their soil.

We filmed in Milan where in February 2003 an Egyptian terror suspect, known as
Abu Omar, was abducted as he walked down a street in the middle of the day. A witness saw 3 or 4 men bundle him into the back of a van which then drove off. It is believed Abu Omar was spirited away to Egypt where he was imprisoned and tortured.
Italian investigators conducted an investigation and ordered the arrest of 22 people they suspect are CIA agents who carried out the abduction.
The Italian government has consistently denied any complicity in Abu Omar’s abduction.
But this does not fit with the version of events described by former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer — widely regarded as the creator of the rendition policy in its current form. Scheuer has stated that the head of Italy’s SISMI military secret service authorized the abduction of Abu Omar. Scheuer told us in an on-camera interview: “The operation was approved by the Italians and probably requested by the Italians.”
Further suggestions of Italian complicity came from a local Milan policeman we interviewed who informed us that, prior to Abu Omar’s abduction, he had been involved in a well-planned surveillance operation of the Egyptian suspect. The policeman was surprised when an Italian magistrate suddenly stopped the surveillance operation. Just a few weeks later, Abu Omar was abducted.
“When we found out about the abduction of Abu Omar we naturally thought there had been two different plans in operation,” the policeman told us. “Our surveillance operation had been suspended because some other organization — either national or international — had already been working on the case.” The policeman told us he believed the CIA had taken over the Abu Omar case from the Italians — clearly with Italian consent.
There is also mounting evidence that Germany may have been complicit in the arrest of a German citizen called Khaled el-Masri.
Earlier this month it was reported that Germany’s external intelligence service, the BND, said it knew about the American seizure and detention of el-Masri sixteen months before the country was officially informed of his mistaken arrest.
El-Masri says he was abducted during a vacation in Macedonia on New Year’s Eve 2003 and taken weeks later to a U.S. prison facility in Afghanistan, where he said he was shackled and beaten. His crime was in having the same name as another Khaled el-Masri, a suspected Al-Qaeda member wanted by the Americans. Some months later the CIA realized they had the wrong man and he was released in a remote area in Albania.
El-Masri told us, in an exclusive interview, that during his captivity in Afghanistan he had been visited by a man called Sam. El-Masri explained that he believed Sam was a German intelligence official.
Europe has tried to distance itself from any suggestion of collusion with the Americans in their policy known as extraordinary rendition. It seems increasingly evident that there has been cooperation — however active or passive — veiled in a garb of plausible deniability. Such deniability is becoming increasingly tenuous.
Giles Trendle is the Senior Producer on Al-Jazeera’s flagship current affairs documentary programme entitled ‘Top Secret‘.


11 comments on “Giles Trendle: European Collusion in Rendition

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  4. pauline says:

    people here that also read Wayne Madsen regularly know he has been reporting on these CIA “extraordinary rendition” flights for quite some time.
    here’s a couple of recent examples —
    June 8, 2006 — Yesterday, the Council of Europe’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights released a report on CIA rendition flights. The report contains the names of many of the airports used as transit and staging points that were reported by WMR. [Search “CIA” and “rendition” in WMR archives]. This is the list from the CoE Report:
    Category A: “Stopover points”
    (points at which aircraft land to refuel, mostly on the way home)
    Roma Ciampino
    Santa Maria (Azores)
    Category B: “Staging points”
    (points from which operations are often launched – planes and crews prepare there, or meet in
    Adana-Incirlik (Turkey)
    Palma de Mallorca
    Baku (Azerbaijan)
    Category C: “One-off pick-up points”
    (points from which, according to our research, one detainee or one group of detainees was picked up
    for rendition or unlawful transfer, but not as part of a systematic occurrence)
    Category D: “Detainee transfer / Drop-off points”
    (places visited often, where flights tend to stop for just short periods, mostly far off the obvious route,either their location is close to a site of a known detention facility or a prima facie case can be made to indicate a detention facility in their vicinity)
    Guantanamo Bay
    Timisoara / Bucharest (Romania)
    Szymany (Poland)
    May 14, 2006 — U.S. ally Azerbaijan denies CIA rendition flights landed there. A few weeks after Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliev (who, like George W. Bush the son of a Cold War-era spy boss and former President — Gaidar Aliev — and who was elected president in a fraudulent election) visited the White House, the oil-rich nation and neighbor of Iran denied it had hosted CIA rendition flights. However, the European aviation authority, Eurocontrol, registered 63 CIA flights from Frankfurt to Baku, Azerbaijan.
    WMR was provided by a reliable European source with the following identified CIA flights to Azerbaijan:
    21.01.03 N8183J Tepper Aviation
    from Frankfurt, Germany overflight Austria to Baku
    23.04.03 N312ME Aviation Specialties
    from Goose Bay, Canada to Frankfurt, Germany (dep. 24.4.) to Bucharest, Romania to Baku
    06.05.03 N157A Aviation Specialties
    from Baku to Bucharest, Romania (dep. 10.5.) to Frankfurt, Germany
    13.06.03 N313P Premier Executive Transport
    from Washington, DC to Frankfurt, Germany to Baku
    16.06.03 N58AS Aviation Specialties
    from Baku to Bucharest, Romania to Ramstein, Germany
    09.07.03 N379P Premier Executive Transport
    from Baku overflight Iceland to Glasgow, UK
    13.12.03 N88ZL Lowa Ltd.
    from Wilmington, NC to Cleveland, OH to Baku
    15.12.03 N88ZL Lowa Ltd.
    from Baku to London, UK to Newburgh, NY
    23.04.04 N85VM Assembly Point Aviation
    from Schenectady, NY to Guantanamo to Washington, DC (26.4.) to Shannon, Ireland to Baku
    28.04.04 N85VM Assembly Point Aviation
    from Baku to Shannon, Ireland
    12.08.04 N85VM Assembly Point Aviation
    from Washington, DC to Ireland, Shannon (dep. 13.8.) to Kabul, Afghanistan to Baku
    15.08.04 N85VM Assembly Point Aviation
    from Baku to Shannon, Ireland
    20.05.05 N4009L Stevens Express Leasing
    from Aberdeen, UK to Munich, Germany (dep. 21.5.) to Bucharest, Romania to Baku
    08.07.05 N1HC United States Aviation Co.
    from Richmond, VA to Baku
    28.10.05 N505LL Path Corporation
    from St. John’s, Canada to Ponta Delgada, Azores to Barcelona, Spain (dep. 31.10.) to Istanbul, Turkey (dep. 1.11.) to Baku (Report Turkish newspaper)
    15.11.05 N505LL Path Corporation
    from Baku to Istanbul, Turkey to Amsterdam, Netherlands (dep. 18.11.) to Reykjav�k, Iceland to Frobisher Bay, Canada to Grand Forks, ND
    Just after George W. Bush hosted the dictator Aliev, Vice President Dick Cheney was in Astana, Kazakhstan praising that nation’s dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev while, at the same time, lambasting Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for crushing democracy there. The Bush regime’s Central Asia policy is based on oil and supporting dictators in return for basing rights and logistics support for U.S. torture flights. Aliev and Nazarbayev are in lock step not only with the Bush administration but with those who control the Bush administration — the Russian-Ukrainian-Israeli Mafia (RUIM), the same entity that supports “Al Qaeda.” Putin broke up the Mafia’s control of Russia’s industries, including the energy industry, earning the wrath of the Mafia oligarchs and their facilitators in the White House and Pentagon.
    Nowhere is the Bush-RUIM link more evident that in the Balkans. Recently, it was disclosed by Amnesty International that the Pentagon contracted with Aerocom, a Moldovan company owned by RUIM kingpin and UN- and US Treasury Department -blacklisted arms smuggler Viktor Bout, to fly 99 tons of Kalashnikov AK-47s and ammunition from Eagle base in Tuzla from July 2004 to 2005, ostensibly for use by Iraqi security forces. The remainder of the 200,000 assault rifles were said to be shipped from Eagle base to Iraq via the Croatian port of Ploce. The rifles and ammunition came from Bosnian, Serbian, and Montenegrin stockpiles. Some of the Bosnian weapons were originally purchased from Bosnian Defense Fund assets — the Washington and Sarajevo-based fund for weapons purchases was established in the 1990s by Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and Marc Zell at Riggs Bank in Washington and the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo from contributions solicited from Arab and Muslim nations.
    Tepper Aviation, a Crestview, Florida-based CIA proprietary with links to the Mossad, flew weapons to Bosnia during the 1990s. It is now involved in torture flights.
    It is now being reported that the Pentagon’s Kalashnikovs never made it to Iraq. WMR has been told by reliable sources in Latin America that some of the weapons are now in the hands of right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, and other Latin American nations for use against populist leaders and candidates for office.
    The imprimatur of RUIM is found throughout the Bush administration — Chertoff, Abramoff, Kidan, and Marc Rich’s one-time attorney, Scooter Libby — are symptomatic of the disease of international organized criminal control of the U.S. government, as well as those of Israel, Britain, Bosnia, Albania, Croatia, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Dubai, Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and now, Iraq. Putin stamped this disease out in Russia and Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, France, Italy, Lebanon, Syria, South Africa, and other nations are well aware of the links their opposition forces have to these same criminal syndicates.


  5. Den Valdron says:

    None of which alters the moral culpability of the United States government and its people for engaging in the practice of torture and engaging in transporting people across international borders for the purpose of torture.
    The fact that the United States was able to bully (and yes, ‘bully’ is the right word, the American regime is not shy to make threats to trade and other bilateral issues) smaller governments into acceding to its wishes, or that in some cases, those smaller governments were willing accomplices, is almost irrelevant.


  6. Pissed Off American says:

    Can you imagine the furor that would be created if Iraqi agents kidnapped these criminals, Bush and Cheney, off the streets of America, and sent them to say, Syria, to be “interogated” about the acts of TERRORISM that they have committed against the people of Iraq???


  7. Marky says:

    I appreciate context when I know that our government renders people to Uzbekistan, whose leader renders his own citizens—as in dipping them in boiling oil.
    Then again, they probably don’t thus “render” people they wish to interrogate, so all is well.


  8. Punchy says:

    Wait, people are surprised that the Europeans knew about this? Hmmm…when one flies a small, unmarked plane across large swaths of European territory, here’s guessing the Europeans are going to want to know who’s flying it and to where. To believe we would pilot airplanes over other countries and NOT tell them what’s going on is beyond laughable.


  9. jerrys says:

    sorry, make that “that they could NOT prove, in any accepted sense of the word prove”


  10. jerrys says:

    Is this the same report in which the European Human Rights watchdog (an amusing concept to begin with) said that they could prove, in the accaepted sense of prove, that there were ANY such secret prisons?


  11. JohnStuart says:

    “But this does not fit with the version of events described by former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer — widely regarded as the creator of the rendition policy in its current form.”
    The notion of Mike as the “creator” of rendition is a blog-myth.
    The notion of rendition as a relatively recent policy is a MSM-myth.
    The origins of the rendition policy are obscured in the mists of time, but it moved into the mainstream back in the days of the ANO (remember when the Abu Nidal Organization played the role we now attribute to Al Qaeda?).
    When ANO cells were rolled-up overseas, the members were screened for any presumptive connections to countries in the Middle East where the services were friendly.
    If Abu-X showed any connection with Jordan, for example, then Abu X would be rendered to the Jordanian services (with the guys in the Amman station allowed to either observe or get an early edition of the product).
    The policy won points with friendly services, sometimes produced useful product, and scared the living daylights out of those rendered (who often volunteered quite a bit on the flight in hopes of not being rendered to the country towards which they were heading).
    The process of rendering was in place long before young Mike started his first class at Camp Peary.
    Since Al Jazeera is going to devote considerable time to exploring the story, they should, in fairness, devote a decent share to the numerous Arab services who eagerly sought US action to render folks to their tender mercies.
    The story of rendition is a complex, multi-layered one. The US is a player, the European services are players, the Arab services are players, Southeast Asian services are players, and, of course, the terrorists and their bosses are players.
    The context for rendition is neither a Sunday school pageant nor a morality play. It needs to be understood in the context of the stakes and the character of all of the players.


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