[lit-ideas] Re: Who killed Nick Berg?

  • From: JulieReneB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 31 May 2004 07:50:38 EDT

 I saw an article citing forensic folks a few days ago -- their conjecture 
was that Nick was already dead (and bled out) before the filming and that the 
video was staged for shock value.  Desecration of a human body is a huge no-no 
in the culture.   Do you have reason to think other than that? 
Julie Krueger

========Original Message========
Subj:[lit-ideas] Who killed Nick Berg?
Date:5/30/2004 2:49:12 PM Central Daylight Time
Sent on:    

There is widespread discussion on blogs about this. The video is very likely
fake. But who faked it?


Who killed Nick Berg?
May 29, 2004    The Sydney Morning Herald.

Conspiracy theories about how the kidnapped American died in Iraq are flying
around the world. Richard Neville explores the explanations.

Iraq in flames, Washington an object of disgust. What to do? At this pivotal
moment, CNN and Fox News are tipped off to a clip of an American citizen
being beheaded. The victim is a 26-year-old idealist from Pennsylvania, Nick
Berg. Despite the perpetrators being masked, the vile deed is deemed the
work of al-Qaeda.

The clip was first "discovered" on an Islamic website in Malaysia. Its
Arabic title reads "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi shown slaughtering an American".
al-Zarqawi is a 38-year-old Jordanian militant who fled to Iraq in 2001
after reportedly losing a leg in a US missile strike. al-Zarqawi's face is
widely known and he credits himself with the deed, so why a mask?

The timing of the video was brilliant for the West. Media pundits judged the
crime a deeper evil than the systemic torture of innocent Iraqis. But some
people sensed a rat. But if it was not al-Qaeda, who? Surely not Uncle Sam.
That's too dark, even for the CIA.

While this video shows a human body having its head chopped off, it does not
necessarily portray an act of murder. Berg's headless body was found dumped
on a Baghdad roadside on Saturday, May 8.
Three days later, the "live beheading" clip was uploaded from London to the
Malaysian website http://www.al-ansar.biz. The statement in the video is
signed with al-Zarqawi's name, dated May 11. After Fox News and CNN had
downloaded the video, it disappeared from the site.

As no autopsy is available, little is known about the state of the body. No
time of death, no forensic analysis. On April 6, a month before the
discovery of the corpse, Berg had been released from custody. But whose

Dan Senor, adviser to the US Presidential Envoy in Iraq, has said Berg was
never held by the Americans. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the Coalition's
deputy head of operations, claimed he was in the custody of Iraqi police
from March 24 to April 6. However, the Iraqi police chief, Major-General
Mohammed Khair al-Barhawi, told Associated Press "the Iraqi police never
arrested the slain American".

Berg's family are certain his jailers were the US military. His father,
Michael, had been told so by the FBI. He has produced an email from a US
consular official in Baghdad, Beth Payne, confirming that his son was in the
hands of the US. (Later, another official said this was an error.) On April
5 in the Philadelphia office of the US Supreme Court, the Berg family had
launched an action against the US military for false imprisonment. The
following day, Berg was released.

The issue of custody is significant; in his final moments on screen Berg is
wearing an orange jumpsuit of the kind familiar from Guantanamo Bay. The
official reasons for Berg's arrest were "lack of documentation" and
"suspicious activities". He carried sensitive electronic equipment for which
he lacked documents. In custody, he was visited three times by the FBI. Such
interviews are bound to have been recorded but no transcripts have been

After his release, Berg travelled to Baghdad and the $30-a-night Al-Fanar
Hotel. A fellow hotel guest told Newsday that Berg recounted how Iraqi
police had quickly handed him to US authorities in Mosul and that he had
been held the entire time in a jail where his guards were US soldiers.

Berg was in Baghdad to win contracts for his family firm, Prometheus Methods
Tower Service, a provider of communications facilities. He often "worked at
night on a tower in the neighbourhood of Abu Ghraib", according to The New
York Times.

The family last heard from him on April 9, when he said he was planning to
leave Iraq via Kuwait as soon as it was safe. Berg was last seen walking
with his bags the following day, apparently hoping to find his way through
the turmoil engulfing the city and make it to the border.

On March 7, 2004, two weeks before his arrest in Mosul, an "enemies list"
had been posted on a conservative website, FreeRepublic.com. The list was
compiled from signatories to an anti-war petition, and its implied purpose
was to encourage readers to harass those it named.

Berg's father was on that list, as was the family firm, Prometheus. This
information may well have triggered the arrest of Berg in Iraq.

Berg's politics are not clear. His father, Michael, has described his son as
a "staunch supporter" of US President George Bush. Friends said Nick
believed he could help rebuild Iraq "one radio tower at a time". According
to The New York Times, he was attracted to the Hebrew concept of tikkun
olam - healing the world through social action.

The first few seconds of the video shows Berg sitting on a white plastic
chair in an orange jumpsuit. He speaks directly to the camera in a relaxed
way: "My name is Nick Berg ... I have a brother and sister, David and Sara.
I live in Philadelphia." His white chair is identical to those in the
photographs of the Abu Ghraib prison tortures, but such chairs are probably
common in Iraq. It is highly likely that this segment is edited from the
interrogation of Berg during his 13 days of custody.

In the next scene, Berg is sitting on the floor with five masked figures
standing behind him. We do not see the figures enter. Berg looks lifeless,
though his body appears to make slight movements. A man reads a lengthy
Arabic statement in a passionless monotone. He is identified as "Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi", a Jordanian associate of Osama bin Laden who is tied to dozens
of terrorist acts.

Yet a leaflet recently circulated in Falluja, by no means a reliable source,
claims that al-Zarqawi was killed in the Sulaimaniya mountains of northern
Iraq during a US bombing. A US military report last month has claimed
al-Zarqawi was killed in the bombing of Falluja.

Also, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has said that al-Zarqawi was
fitted with a prosthetic leg in a Baghdad hospital, yet the tape shows no
evidence of a limp. CNN staff familiar with al-Zarqawi's voice have been
quoted as saying the voice does not sound like his.

Among the many curiosities raised on the web about the fanatical five are:

· They are well-fed, fidgety, and reveal glimpses of white skin.

· Their Arabic is heavily accented (Russian, Jordanian, Egyptian).

· An aside in Russian had been translated as "do it quickly".

· One character wears wears bulky white tennis shoes.

· The man on the far left stands in the familiar "at ease" military posture.

· The men's scarves are worn and tied by people who "haven't a clue", says
conspiracy theorist Hector Carreon, like actors in Hollywood movies.

· There is even a voice at the end that seems to ask in English, "How will
it be done?" [http://www.aztlan.net/nick_berg_how_done.htm]

None of this proves a grand conspiracy, but it does raise questions. In the
final segment of the tape, Berg is thrown to the ground, but doesn't move.
During the decapitation, starting at the front of the throat, there is
little sign of blood. The scream is wildly out of sync, sounds female, and
is obviously dubbed.

Dr John Simpson, executive director for surgical affairs at the Royal
Australasian College of Surgeons, told Ritt Goldstein of the Asia Times, "I
would have thought that all the people in the vicinity would have been
covered in blood, in a matter of seconds ... if it [the video] was genuine".

Simpson agrees with other experts who find it highly probable that Berg had
died before his decapitation.

But there is still the problem of Berg's slight body movements while sitting
on the floor, before the beheading. According to a blogger (internet
diarist), Nick Possum, "this footage was subsequently modified frame by
frame to make Berg's body move very occasionally". Apparently, this can be
achieved with "commonly available software".

Possum believes "the available evidence surrounding the case suggests that
it was a 'black operation' by US psychological warfare specialists ... to
provide the media with a moral relativity argument to counter the adverse
publicity over torture at Abu Ghraib". The use of FBI footage in the opening
sequence, if confirmed, suggests the involvement of high-level US Government

I do not know who killed Nick Berg, or how he died. But there's something
fishy about this video.

In the end, the question is: who killed Nick Berg, and why?

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