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Selective WikiLeaks: The Untold Story of Abu Omar

12:51 PM, Dec 27, 2010 • By JOHN ROSENTHAL
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The investigation would lead to the issuance in June 2005 of a warrant for Abu Omar’s arrest. The Italian arrest warrant affirms that Abu Omar was no mere member of said terrorist organization, but indeed “a Kaid, a supreme commander.” It concludes that his “engagement in supporting the terrorist cause” is “documented by numerous elements of proof that are unquestionably serious and concordant.” Much of this evidence consists of taped conversations between Abu Omar and other terror suspects. Transcripts of these conversations are included as supporting material in the warrant.

The Italian arrest warrant identifies Abu Omar as an adherent of “the most radical wing” of the Qaeda-affiliated Egyptian Islamist organization Gama’a Al-Islamiya. The historical chief of Gama’a Al-Islamiya was Omar Abdel-Rahman: the notorious “blind Sheik” who is reputed to have been the inspiration for the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and who is presently serving a life sentence in an American prison. The warrant affirms that Abu Omar and his co-conspirators were planning terror attacks “in Italy and abroad.” Prior to his disappearance in early 2003, however, their principal activity appears rather to have been the recruitment of European Muslims to join the al Qaeda-affiliated jihadist organization Ansar Al-Islam in northern Iraq.

The Spiegel article mentions none of this. It does, however, note that “Omar claims he was brutally mistreated by Egyptian intelligence officers” and even that “American officials were present while he was being tortured and interrogated.” It is true that Abu Omar has made such claims. But, as it so happens, Italian surveillance tapes of phone conversations that he had with his wife Ghali Nabila and another associate in Italy clearly contradict these claims. In the taped conversations, Abu Omar makes light of the conditions of his confinement in terms suggesting collusion between him and the Egyptian authorities supposedly holding him prisoner. In one conversation Omar goes so far as to describe his year in prison as “the best year of my life. . . . Thank God.”

Note that none of the above revelations about the Abu Omar case required any leaks of classified material. All of the information comes from a published Italian arrest warrant. The document is available online here. Whether out of ignorance or deceit, news organizations like Der Spiegel and WikiLeaks’s other privileged “media partners” have as a rule neglected to divulge its contents or even its mere existence to their readers.

Nonetheless, one passage in the Italian surveillance transcripts might be of special interest to Der Spiegel’s home audience: namely, the passage in which Abu Omar has a lengthy conversation at the Via Quaranta mosque with an otherwise unidentified “man from Germany.” The visitor from Germany describes a project to create a jihadist “battalion” consisting of European recruits. “The man behind the program is close to Emir Abdullah and we are grateful to Emir Abdullah,” he explains to Abu Omar. The arrest warrant identifies “Emir Abdullah” as none other than Osama Bin Laden.

It should come as no surprise that the European jihadist network of which Abu Omar was part had connections to Germany. As discussed in my “Germany’s War on the War on Terror,” almost every major Qaeda-linked attack of the last decade has had some significant tie to Germany.

Who is the mysterious “man from Germany” that appears in the Italian surveillance transcripts? Was it perhaps Mamoun Darkazanli, the notorious al Qaeda financier who is the object of an Interpol wanted notice and who continues to live as a free man in Hamburg? Or was it perhaps Reda Seyam, the open partisan of jihad and reputed financier of the deadly 2002 Bali bombings who continues to live as a free man in Berlin? Both Darkazanli and Seyam are reported to be personal acquaintances of Osama Bin Laden.

Or could it have been Seyam’s friend Khaled Al-Masri (a.k.a. Khaled El-Masri)? Masri is another alleged and iconic “victim” of extraordinary rendition, and the Spiegel article on Abu Omar duly notes what it calls an “uncanny resemblance” between the two cases.

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