Refuelling and rendition: Ireland's role in the war on terror
US court records from a case involving Richmor Aviation, another company that operated CIA rendition flights, show that at least 13 flights operated by Richmor involving US personnel landed in Ireland between 2002 and 2004. It’s unclear whether detainees were on board during these stopovers. However, Richmor-operated flights were involved in the extraordinary rendition of the Egyptian cleric Abu Omar, suspected by the CIA of involvement with radical Muslim groups.
In February 2003, as he was walking to his mosque in Milan, Omar was allegedly stopped by a police officer and asked for identification before being forced into a van and driven to a Nato air base in Aviano, Italy. From there he was flown to Germany and then to Cairo, where he claims he was tortured for seven months. He was eventually released by an Egyptian court that ruled his detention was “unfounded”.
In September 2012, an Italian court upheld in-absentia criminal convictions for 22 CIA agents and one pilot involved in Abu Omar’s abduction. Omar and his wife have also filed a petition against Italy before the European Court of Human Rights.
There is also suspicion that Richmor-operated flights refuelled at Shannon before transporting Abd al-Nashiri, a Saudi national whom the US believes masterminded the attack on USS Cole in 2000 and who remains in US custody at Guantánamo Bay. Captured by US forces in Dubai in 2002, he was taken to a CIA prison in Afghanistan, and then to Bangkok.
According to a UN report, on December 4th, 2002, the CIA transported al-Nashiri on a chartered flight from Bangkok to a secret CIA detention site in Poland. It is alleged that US interrogators subjected al-Nashiri to a mock execution with a power drill as he stood naked and hooded.
In its report, Open Society bases its evidence of Ireland’s complicity on three high-level reports from the European parliament, the Council of Europe and the UN that expressed serious concern about the country’s “alleged co-operation” in CIA renditions. “There is no doubt that high-ranking Bush administration officials bear responsibility for authorising human-rights violations associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, and the impunity that they have enjoyed to date remains a matter of significant concern,” it says.
“But responsibility for these violations does not end with the US. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the US under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable.”