Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Germany Going After CIA Spooks

The short arm of German law is coming for the CIA. They want to arrest 13 suspected (always suspected, not like CIA agents roam about handing out business cards blowing their cover) CIA agents for their role in the 2003 abduction of a German national. Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, says he was abducted in December 2003 in Macedonia and flown by the CIA to a detention center in Afghanistan, where he was allegedly abused. Al-Masri says he was released in Albania in May 2004 after the CIA discovered they had the wrong man. Oops! The 13 suspects were crew and passengers on an aircraft which flew el-Masri from Macedonia to Afghanistan. My friends at Deutsche Welle have this interesting bit: Public broadcaster NDR had reported earlier that most of the CIA employees sought lived in North Carolina in the United States. NDR said Spanish authorities had learned the identities of all 13 agents on board and had copies of some of their passports. Although all of the names were believed to be aliases, NDR said it was possible, using other data, to learn their real identities. The report said three of the suspects worked for Aero Contractors, believed to be the CIA's secret airline.German arrest warrants are not valid in the United States but if the suspects were to travel to the European Union they could be arrested. Maybe during Oktoberfest? Germany, as you CEEI readers know, Hamburg, to be precise, was a hangout for the 9/11 terrorists. As the German muckracking mag, Der Spiegel, reported in 2005, it was a key 9/11 suspected who fingered al-Masri. Here's a good bit from that article: One of the key figures in the deadly Sept. 11 attacks, the Hamburg-based Yemenite Ramzi Binalshibh, told the CIA of a coincidental meeting he had once had on a train ride. He was told of a man by the name of "Khalid al-Masri" who had apparently urged Mohammed Atta's Sept. 11 pilot crew to get training in Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan. Binalshibh was also told that this man "al-Masri" had helped Atta's men establish contact with a senior al-Qaida member in the city of Duisburg in western Germany's Ruhr region. Not satisfied with the CIA's mea culpa it goofed, ( and who would be?) Al-Masri has filed a landmark suit, with the help of the ACLU, against the U.S. The suit, as the BBC, nicely sums up here, claims that former CIA director George Tenet and other CIA officials violated US and universal human rights laws when they authorised agents to kidnap Mr Masri. The lawsuit says Mr Masri suffered "prolonged arbitrary detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment".

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