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A Foreign Abduction Unlikely To Get Much FOX News Attention

Reported by Ellen - June 24, 2005

Here's a tale of abduction and torture of a religious figure in exotic locales. Tie in the US War on Terror and possible misuse of taxpayer funds and you ought to have enough lurid details for any FOX News producer to want to ship out a TV host immediately in order to gather every single detail. But don't expect Bill O'Reilly to be packing up his loofah any time soon. In this story, the alleged kidnappers are not just Americans but 13 CIA agents in Italy - with another 6 agents being investigated - and the victim is "only" an Egyptian borm imam.

The FOXNews.com report is taken from Associated Press. The fact that no FOX News reporter was assigned to the story tells us right off the bat the level of importance FOX gives to it. Nevertheless, the details are chilling:

ROME - An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 CIA agents for allegedly helping deport an imam to Egypt as part of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, an Italian official familiar with the investigation said Friday.

The agents are suspected in the seizure of an Egyptian-born imam identified as Abu Omar on the streets of Milan in February 2003, according to the official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome declined to comment.

Prosecutors believe the agents seized Omar as part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, according to reports Friday in newspapers Corriere della Sera and Il Giorno.

Investigators traced the agents through check-in details at Milan hotels and their use of Italian cell phones during the operation, the reports said. All the agents are American and include three women, Il Giorno said.

The reports said another six agents were being investigated for helping prepare the operation.

They said police also received an eyewitness account from an Egyptian woman who heard Omar calling for help and saw him being bundled into a white van as he walked from his house to a mosque.

...Italian papers have reported that Omar, 42, called his wife and friends in Milan after his release last year, recounting he had been seized by Italian and American agents and taken to a secret prison in Egypt, where he was tortured with electric shocks.

A few details not given in the FOX News report but which can be found in a nearly identical AP report on Yahoo are as follows:

On Friday, Corriere della Sera cited another Milan-based imam as telling Italian authorities that Omar had been tortured in Egypt after refusing to work in Italy as an informer.

According to the testimony, Omar was hung upside down and subjected to extreme temperatures and loud noise that damaged his hearing, Corriere reported.

...Corriere said Italian police picked up details, including cover names, photos, credit card details, and U.S. addresses that the 13 had given to a number of five-star hotels in Milan around the time of Omar's alleged abduction.

...The report said investigations showed the 13 ran up $144,984 in hotel bills in Milan, and two couples took holidays in northern Italy after delivering Omar at the Aviano air base.

I doubt this story will garner much more than a mention on the "news ticker" crawl at the bottom of the FOX News TV screen. There's just too much to discuss about Natalee Holloway.

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