Joseph L. Romano

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Joseph L. Romano
Allegiance United States, United States of America
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1976 - Present
Rank Colonel
Unit 37th Training Group, Lackland AFB, Texas[1]
Commands held 1st Security Police Squadron, Langley Air Force Base, Va.
9th Security Police Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, Calif
31st Security Forces Squadron, Aviano AB, Italy
586th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, Camp Bucca, Iraq
37th Training Group, Lackland AFB, Texas
Battles/wars Iraq War
Awards Bronze Star
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with 1 silver leaf cluster
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal
Joint Meritorious Unit Award with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Meritorious Unit Award
National Defense Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
NATO Medal

Colonel Joseph L. Romano is an officer in the United States Air Force and one of 26 American nationals charged by Italian authorities with the 2003 kidnapping of Italian resident cleric Hassan Nasr as part of an alleged covert CIA operation. Romano was subsequently convicted in absentia of kidnapping.[2] On 5 April 2013, Giorgio Napolitano, the President of the Italian Republic, pardoned Romano.[3]

Background and career[edit]

In his own words, Romano comes from a family with a legacy of military service, to include his father who served as a corporal in the Korean War.[4]

Recent activities[edit]

Investigation by Italian authorities[edit]

Image from the CIA's surveillance of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr recovered during investigations by the prosecuting authority of Milan [5]

At the time of the Hassan Nasr kidnapping, Romano was commander of the 31st Security Forces Squadron stationed in Aviano Air Base near Venice. On June 27, 2005, he was made subject of a Europe-wide arrest warrant,[6][7] centering on contentions of Italian authorities that he was in charge of security operations during the kidnapping of Nasr in February, 2003. The subsequent formal transmission of the arrest warrants to the Eurojust judicial coordination office meant that they became immediately effective throughout all E.U. member countries, and that Romano and all 22 other U.S. nationals named in the warrant were subject to immediate arrest within their respective jurisdictions. Among the evidentiary points cited in the warrant, issued by the Tribunale di Milano, were the fact that one of the four subscribed numbers traced by authorities as having transmitted from the scene of the kidnapping to Aviano was "assigned to, owned and used by" Col. Romano.[8]

A formal indictment was issued by Judge Caterina Interlandi on February 16, 2007.[9] Romano – the only military officer among the 26 U.S. nationals indicted – has refused to comment on the allegations. “I have nothing to say,” he has said, referring questions about the “alleged incident that I’m supposedly involved in” to Air Force senior leadership and the service’s public affairs office.[10]

On November 4, 2009, Romano, along with 22 other Americans, was convicted in absentia in an Italian court for his alleged role in the Hassn Nasr kidnapping. The judge in the case, Oscar Maggi, sentenced Romano to five years in prison. However, it is very unlikely Romano will ever serve any time. Reacting to the verdict, Pentagon press secretary Geoff S. Morrell stated "Our view is the Italian court has no jurisdiction over Lieutenant Colonel (Joseph) Romano and should have immediately dismissed the charges. Now that they have not, we will, of course, explore what options we have going forward". Referring to all the convictions, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly stated "We are disappointed by the verdicts against the Americans and Italians charged in Milan for their alleged involvement in the case involving Egyptian cleric Abu Omar".[11]

Deployment in Iraq[edit]

Romano commanded the 586th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron that deployed to Camp Bucca in December 2004.[12] The unit, was activated in October 2004 and originally called the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron; in March 2005 the unit was renamed the 586th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. The unit was assembled in 45 days and consisted of security forces personnel from 17 bases representing every major command in the Air Force. The Airmen performed three of the Army's traditional missions—detainee operations, patrolling duties, and convoy escort duties. In an unusual move, the airmen also helped provide force protection for the Army camp.[13]

Transfer to the Pentagon[edit]

Since 2005, Romano has worked at Section 31P of The Pentagon.[14] In August 2006, he was selected for promotion to colonel,[15] but as of December 2006 he was still holding the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Promotion and assignment[edit]

As of 2009 he was promoted to colonel and reassigned to Lackland AFB, Texas. Romano was given command of the 37th Training Group of the 37th Training Wing.[16]


Romano, through his lawyer Cesare Bulgheroni, asked for pardon.[17] On April 5, 2013, the President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano accepted Romano's request, discharging him from crimes related to the kidnapping allegations.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Biographies: COLONEL JOSEPH L. ROMANO III". The Official Web Site of Lackland Air Force Base. Archived from the original on 2010-06-13. Retrieved 2010-06-18. 
  2. ^ "CIA agents guilty of Italy kidnap". BBC News. 2009-11-04. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  3. ^ "Italy pardons American in CIA snatch case". ANSA. 2013-04-05. Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Piano/Esteri/2005/11 Novembre/11/imam.shtml "Foto della Cia svela il sequestro dell'imam", Corriere della Sera, 12 novembre 2005.
  6. ^ Italy Says CIA Agents Guilty of Abduction, Issues Europe-Wide Arrest Warrants
  7. ^ UK Indymedia - WE "OUT" AN EX-CIA AGENT - Bush Admin's Renditioner in Italy Scandal
  8. ^ Tribunale di Milano, Felony ex Arts, No. 10838/05
  9. ^ Barry, Colleen (2007-02-17). "Alleged agents of CIA charged". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  10. ^ "Ex-Aviano officer won't comment on alleged abduction". Stars and Stripes. 2006-12-10. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  11. ^ Gina Doggett (2009-11-04). "Italy convicts 23 US agents in CIA kidnapping trial". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 2009-11-09. [dead link]
  12. ^
  13. ^ Lobb, Jerry (2005-06-03). "Airmen guard camp, detainees in Iraq". Air Force Link. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  14. ^ CIAs INDICTED (Romano, Castelli, Russomondo, De Sousa), also top Italy Spies - Indymedia Ireland
  15. ^ AF announces selections to colonel, lieutenant colonel, major
  16. ^ Barry, Colleen (Associated Press), "Italy convicts Air Force O-6 in CIA kidnap case", Military Times, November 4, 2009.
  17. ^ "Comunicato di Grazia del Pres. Giorgio Napolitano". 
  18. ^ Emsden, Christopher (5 April 2013). "Italy to Pardon U.S. Officer in Rendition Case". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 April 2013.