What follows is my rather lengthly analysis of the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Nick Berg, an American.
It is a four-part series, posted to my blog over the past four days, and contains every scrap of information I could find about this. It is not intended as an attempt to answer questions so much as to ask them. We all deserve to know what happened.
I know you've already heard about the beheading of Nick Berg. However, I think something suspicious is going on and it's worthwhile to investigate.
First, the mainstream story and then my analysis of it:
Prisoner abuse - Iraq style: U.S. hostage beheaded
By Andrew Miga
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
WASHINGTON - In a horrific display of prisoner abuse Iraq-style, al-Qaeda-linked radicals beheaded an American hostage and vowed more will be ``slaughtered'' to avenge the ``Satanic degradation'' of Iraqi detainees by U.S. troops.
`It shows the true nature of the enemies of freedom,'' said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. ``They have no regard for the lives of innocent men, women and children. We will pursue those who are responsible and bring them to justice.''
A video of 26-year-old civilian contractor Nick Berg's decapitation by five armed men wearing black ski masks and wielding a large knife was posted on an Islamic militant Web site.
``The worst is coming,'' one of the men said. ``You and your soldiers will regret the day that you touched the ground of Iraq.''
The gruesome murder bore grim echoes of the execution of former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl two years ago - and came as the Bush administration is scrambling to contain fallout from the prisoner abuse scandal at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.
``My name is Nick Berg, my father's name is Michael, my mother's name is Suzanne,'' said Berg, a civilian telecommunications worker in Iraq seen wearing an orange prison-style jumpsuit with hands and feet bound before his execution.
A scream can be heard on the video as Berg's head is slowly cut off by a knife-wielding masked man. The men shout ``Allahu Akbar!'' - ``God is great'' - as Berg's killer displays the severed head.
``We tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls,'' the killer said, reading a statement before the murder. ``You will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins slaughtered in this way.''
The murderer claimed his group tried to exchange Berg for Iraqi prisoners - but U.S. officials reportedly knew of no such offer.
Fugitive terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants, claimed responsibility for the execution. Al-Zarqawi has a million U.S. bounty on his head.
Berg's family said U.S. officials deserved part of the blame because their son was wrongly jailed for 11 days in Mosul as violence worsened there. If Berg had not been detained, he may have evaded the unrest, they said.
``They caused his death indirectly by detaining him,'' Berg's father Michael told reporters at his West Chester, Pa., home.
Berg's parents said their son was in Iraq as an independent contractor. They remembered him as a free spirit who as a Cornell University student traveled to Ghana to teach villagers how to make bricks.
He had been missing since April 9. His body was found on an overpass in Baghdad. Berg was arrested by Iraqi officials in Mosul in March, but released April 6 after his parents filed a suit in federal court in Philadelphia charging their son was illegally imprisoned.
There are dozens of incorrect and misleading facts in that article, but I posted it because it had the same general tone and information as most other articles printed in newspapers around the world. Now it's time to analyze what was said:
The abuse is called "Iraq style"
The article says the perpetrators are a group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is a man of Jordanian descent who has primarily been active in Lebanon, Afghanistan and possibly Pakistan. Never once has he even been alleged to have operated in Iraq. So how could this beheading be "Iraqi style"?
Not to mention that the transcript (see below) from the tape doesn't ever say or mention Zarqawi or Iraq at any time.
"It shows the true nature of the enemies of freedom"
That's what the White House says. How does this show they are enemies of freedom? Assuming they were killing the man in an attempt to scare off or persuade Americans to leave Iraq, wouldn't their motive then be for the freedom of Iraq?
What exactly does beheading an American have to do with "freedom"? It's not even against Iraqi law to behead prisoners. You know how I know this? Because there is no law in Iraq other than what Americans say it is.
Furthermore the White House says "they" (I guess Al-Zarqawi and company) have no regard for the lives of "innocent men". How do we know Nick Berg is innocent? He was arrested by Iraqi police and questioned several times by the FBI. Was he a criminal or wasn't he?
The video was shown on an Islamic website
Oh yeah? What website? Because all I've seen are websites posting copies of frames from the video and one or two sites with the original video. But where is the original website? I've literally searched through hundreds of websites and they all say "an Islamic website" without ever identifying it or linking to it. I've even been on some (mostly Israeli) websites which monitor these kinds of pro-Islamic or pro-Jihad websites and even they don't have the original link or website [see below for further info on this].
Every news organization around the world suddenly broke this story all at once but no one can find the original site? Is that because they don't want anyone doing a DNS lookup or finding out other information about the true owner/sponsor of the site? I don't know the answer ok, I'm just asking questions.
You and your soldiers will regret the day you touched the ground
My Arabic is a little rusty but I believe this is the true transcript from this tape:
Praise to Allah who honored Islam with His support, humiliated the infidels with His power, controlled everything with His Command, and tricked the infidels. Prayers and peace be upon the one that raised the banner of Islam with his sword.
Nation Of Islam,
Great news! The signs of dawn have begun and the winds of victory are blowing. Allah has granted us a great victory, in one of his battles in Fallujah. Thanks to Allah alone.
Nation of Islam,
Is there any excuse left to sit idly by? How can a free Muslim sleep soundly while Islam is being slaughtered, its honor bleeding and the images of shame in the news of the satanic abuse of the Muslim men and women in the prison of Abu-Ghraib. Where is your zeal and where is the anger for the religion of Allah? And where is the jealousy over the honor of the Muslims and where is the revenge for the honor of the Muslim men and women in the prisons of the Crusaders?
As for you, scholars of Islam, it is to Allah that we complain about you. Don't you see that Allah has established the evidence against you by the youth of Islam, who have humiliated the greatest power in history and broken its nose and destroyed its arrogance?
Hasn't the time come for you to learn from them the meaning of reliance on God and to learn from their actions the lessons of sacrifice and forebearance? How long will you remain like the women, knowing no better than to wail, scream and cry?
One scholar appeals to the free people of this world, another begs Kofi Annan, a third seeks help from 'Amr Musa and a fourth calls for peaceful demonstrations as if they did not hear the words of Allah "O Messenger, rally the believers to fight!"
Aren't you fed up with the jihad of conferences and the battles of sermons? Has the time not come for you to lift the sword, which the master of the Messengers was sent with?
And we hope that you will not intervene as usual by denouncing what we do to please the Americans. The Prophet, the master of the merciful has ordered to cut off the heads of some of the prisoners of Badr in patience. He is our example and a good role model.
As for you, Bush dog of the Christians, we promise you things that will displease you. With Allah's assistance, hard days are coming to you. You and your soldiers are going to regret the day that you stepped foot in Iraq and dared to violate the Muslims.
Another message for the collaborator and traitor Pervez Musharraf; we say to you, we can not wait to welcome your soldiers. By Allah, we will target them before the Americans and will avenge the blood of our brothers in Wana and others.
As for you, mothers and wives of the American soldiers, we say to you that we offered the American Administration the chance to exchange this prisoner for some of the prisoners in Abu-Ghraib, but they refused. We say to you, the dignity of the Muslim men and women in the prison of Abu Ghraib and others will be redeemed by blood and souls. You will see nothing from us except corpse after corpse and casket after casket of those slaughtered in this fashion.
"So kill the infidels wherever you see them, take them, sanction them, and await them in every place"
Clearly the speaker is making reference to a whole host of issues there, from Musharraf to Kofi Annan to Wana to Amr Musa. The articles I've read all focus exclusively on Iraq and Americans even though it's clear that most of the message is directed towards other Muslims, whether Iraqi scholars or the president of Pakistan.
You may be wondering about some of those references, so let's take them one at a time.
"Wana" is a city in Pakistan in the province of Waziristan, which is near the Afghanistan border and is also home to the fiercely independent tribal people who are accused of "sheltering" Al-Qaeda and "foreign fighters", some of whom are allegedly Osama bin Laden and/or his buddies. It's been the scene of a lot of fighting between those tribes and the Pakistani Army, as you can read about here.
What is kind of odd is that, in general, the tribal forces have been "winning" more of these skirmishes than the Pakistani Army. The Pak Army is caught in a strange sort of bind, which is that they're pressured from the top (because of allegiance to the United States) to catch "Al-Qaeda" and "Taliban" and their sympathizers, but are afraid to use too heavy a hand against the locals because it would cause severe unrest and disruption in the nation's stability. It doesn't look too good for the Pak Army to be firing missiles and tank rounds into dusty mud villages inhabited by other Paks.
You'll notice that the link goes to the arrest of a "high ranking Al-Qaeda" member called "Abdullah". You can read more about his "capture" and the fighting in Waziristan here to realize what a joke it would be to have anyone truly upset about the ongoing operation in Wana.
As for "Amr Musa", Mr. Musa is the secretary of the Arab League. Here is an interesting article about him. He is clearly a moderate and it's not hard to see why he is disliked by some more fundamental elements.
The gruesome murder bore grim echoes of the execution of former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl two years ago
Well, that's an interesting comparison isn't it? Daniel Pearl was more than just a WSJ reporter. He was also an Israeli citizen and his killers alleged he was a spy. Was he a spy? I don't know. But both Mr. Pearl and Mr. Berg are Jewish men acting in a civilian capacity deep inside hostile, Muslim countries. Berg has also been to Israel even if he wasn't necessary a citizen. It's certainly an odd coincidence, if that's what it is.
Here is what his friend said about Nick Berg's arrest by Iraqi police:
'He said: 'You want to hear an interesting story? They thought I was a spy because I had a Jewish last name and had an Israeli stamp in my passport,' " said Hugo Infante, 31, a Chilean freelance journalist. ''He wasn't [upset]. It was like an adventure for him."
Aziz Taee, 40, an Iraqi business associate of Berg's who has lived in the Philadelphia area for most of the past 20 years, said Berg ''was in a taxicab after midnight, stopped during a routine check. The police saw in his passport the Israeli stamp."
On a trip to Iraq in December, Berg flew to Tel Aviv and then Amman, Jordan, before driving overland to Baghdad, his mother, Suzanne Berg, said in a telephone interview.
Suzanne Berg said her son never mentioned an Israeli stamp as a reason for his arrest. ''He wrote us an e-mail about his detention and said it was because he was an American out late and it was unusual," she said. ''That's the first I heard anything about that."
I'll tell you why Suzanne Berg said her son never mentioned it. Anyone can tell you that if you want to travel to Israel and then a country hostile to Israel (Jordan or Iraq for example), you can request that the Israeli customs agents stamp a separate sheet of paper so that it won't appear in your regular passport. I know because I've had it done.
Looks like there's a new update on the Judaism angle:
Death Ends Slain American's Religious Journey
By Forward Staff
May 12, 2004
Being Jewish may have cost Nicholas Berg his life, said the father of the 26-year-old American contractor who was decapitated by Islamic militants in Iraq.
The Forward has learned that the slain American had, during the past year, intensified his study and observance of Judaism, and taken to wearing tzitzit, or ritual fringes. His father, Michael Berg, mentioned that his son had a set of tzitzit with him in Iraq, in an interview with the Associated Press.
The Islamic militants who executed Berg claimed to be followers of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the one-legged Jordanian terror master with links to Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network. As reported in March by the Forward, terrorism analysts believe that Zarqawi places a higher value on Jewish and Israeli targets than does bin Laden and his other associates.
So far, however, the Islamic militants who killed Berg have made no reference to their victim's religion.
While it remains unclear what role religion played in Berg's death, his friends told the Forward that Judaism certainly had become a more important element in his life.
"In the past year or year-and-a-half," Berg "was starting to wear tzitzit; he was starting to become more observant," said Aaron Spool, a longtime friend of Berg's. Spool, who has also become more religious, characterized Berg's late-in-life turn to Jewish observance as "a quest for knowledge," adding that once Berg started, "nothing got in his way."
Berg, who had his own apartment in West Chester, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, regularly attended services at Congregation Kesher Israel, a local Conservative synagogue, and had undertaken an intense study of the Bible, Spool said.
The decision by Berg's killers to film his execution and place the video on the Internet drew immediate comparisons to Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was killed in 2002 by militants in Pakistan. Seconds before Pearl was murdered, his captors forced him to declare on tape that he was Jewish. Pearl's parents issued a statement Tuesday offering condolences to the Berg family.
In the moments before Berg's death, he identified himself and his family but made no mention of being Jewish. "My name is Nick Berg," he said. "My father's name is Michael. My mother's name is Susan . . . I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah."
Berg's father told the Jewish Exponent that he and his wife had wanted to keep their son's Jewish identity out of the news for his own protection. The father told the AP that he did not think his son wore his tzitzit in public. Still, the father was quoted as saying, "There's a better chance than not that they knew he was Jewish. If there was any doubt that they were going to kill him," Michael Berg reportedly said, "that probably clinched it, I'm guessing."
Berg, who formed the company Prometheus Methods Tower Service in 2002, was an engineer and entrepreneur who went to Iraq to develop cellular infrastructures.
The leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein and James Tisch, issued a May 11 statement arguing that "the brutal murder today of Nick Berg at the hands of terrorists in Iraq and the barbaric behavior of Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza, mutilating the bodies of the Israeli soldiers killed by a road side bomb, underscores the evil that we are fighting in the war on terrorism."
Berg's parents, meanwhile, were sounding a drastically different note, as they blamed the Bush administration for the death of their son. Michael Berg, who previously signed on to an advertisement organized by the anti-war group Answer, said that Berg might have left Iraq much earlier had he not been detained, first by Iraqi police and then by U.S. forces, starting March 24. American officials were reportedly attempting to determine whether Berg was a U.S. citizen and what he was doing in Iraq. According to Berg's father, he was released April 6, one day after they filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was being held illegally.
U.S. officials are disputing the account of Berg's father, saying that American forces never detained their son and played a key role in securing his release from Iraqi police.
The Bergs told reporters that they last heard from their son April 9, when he told them he was attempting to find a safe way to leave Iraq. His remains were discovered May 8.
Spool said Berg's Iraq work was a product of his "humanitarian" nature, of a piece with previous ventures to Africa. There, Spool said, Berg "helped build a bridge one year" and "taught ceramics to different tribes." One of Berg's talents, he said, was that he was "able to teach a lot of different people how to improve their infrastructure." Spool noted that Berg did volunteer work "while running his own business, while learning Torah."
During a preliminary trip to the Middle East last year, according to Spool, Berg encountered many people who questioned Israel's right to exist. "He heard a lot of anti-Israel sentiment in various parts of the Middle East," Spool said. "He just said that they had different views than he had."
Michael Berg, who opposed the war, was quoted in the New York Times as saying that his son had a more positive outlook on the U.S. presence in Iraq. Speaking of his slain son's view of the invasion, Michael Berg reportedly said, "He looked at it as bringing democracy to a country that didn't have it."
A scream can be heard on the video as Berg's head is slowly cut off by a knife-wielding masked man.
Yes a scream can be heard but you can't actually see Mr. Berg's mouth when this "screaming" is going on. I've spent most of this morning talking to people who are familiar with dead bodies and autopsies and gruesome deaths of all types. Some of them have seen video footage of beheadings as well. There's almost a universal sentiment among them that cutting off someone's head produces a lot of blood, yet in the video none is ever seen. Even when they hold up his head, there is no blood dripping from it.
The time stamp in the video clearly shows more than 10 hours difference between the first half, the "speech" and the second half, the "beheading". The evidence shown in the video seems to be that Mr. Berg was dead when they cut his head off, which would explain also the lack of struggling shown in the video.
Fugitive terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants, claimed responsibility for the execution
Couple of odd and misleading things about this. First of all, there were widespread reports that al-Zarqawi is already dead. Regardless of whether or not he is dead, Mr. Zarqawi has an artificial leg (prosthetic). Yet in a close examination of the videotape supposedly showing Mr. Zarqawi, you cannot see any evidence of anyone with an artificial leg.
Notice of course if you read that last link that there is an accusation that the United States was using Zarqawi for political purposes in Iraq (this was March 2004). Jordan has already used Zarqawi for political purposes, claiming he was the mastermind behind the murder of an old American man. Morocco, Turkey and Germany also say he was giving orders right and left for a series of attacks as well.
The only problem is that there is ample evidence Zarqawi and bin Laden were rivals:
"This is a very important document," says Bruce Hoffman, a terror expert at RAND Corp. in Washington. "It confirms that Zarqawi was running a parallel organization - not completely divorced from Al Qaeda, but separate. And that [Zarqawi] competes with Osama bin Laden and sees himself as somewhat of an emulator, or even a successor in the Muslim world."
Zarqawi's origins are with an organization called Asbat Al-Ansar and without getting into too many details, most of their enemies are not the west but Muslims who are "not Muslim enough". Their main beef for years has been the Lebanese government, whom they feel is too secular and not religious enough. Here is a BBC report on him and you'll notice they too wonder whether he is Osama's "lieutenant" or rival.
Could it still be Zarqawi on the tape? Sure, it could be anyone. But Zarqawi's face is well known and it is an odd choice that he is masked. It would be like Osama bin Laden covering his face on a videotape that he himself (supposedly) released to show his power/prowess in fighting the Americans. Why hide from that? What's the point of releasing a tape where you say it's you and then not show your face to prove it?
Again: Zarqawi's face is EXTREMELY WELL KNOWN around the world.
Berg's family said U.S. officials deserved part of the blame because their son was wrongly jailed for 11 days in Mosul as violence worsened there. If Berg had not been detained, he may have evaded the unrest, they said.
There is a ton of evidence concerning this, and it's all bizarre.
The best place to start is here, a report in a local newspaper from May 8, 2004 which is 4 days before the beheading video/pictures/story came out worldwide.
In that article, it describes that Berg's parents are grief striken because they haven't heard from their son since April 9, 2004 (one month before). That's important for several reasons, primarily because it is odd that Berg is shown on the videotape wearing an orange prisoner type jumpsuit approximately one month after he supposedly wasn't in jail anymore.
Here is the Berg family timeline for their son:
Dec 21, 2003 - goes to Iraq for the first time
Feb 1, 2004 - Left Iraq because he couldn't find work
March 14, 2004 - Returned to Iraq
March 24, 2004 - Called his parents said he was coming home on March 30 flight
March 24, 2004 - Last time he called or emailed his parents
March 30, 2004 - Didn't get on the flight
March 31, 2004 - FBI agents show up at parents home, say Nick is in jail in Iraq but won't say why
April 5, 2004 - Berg parents file suit against Department of Defense including Rumsfeld
April 6, 2004 - Nick released from jail, calls parents. Said he had been arrested by Iraqi police in Mosul on March 24.
From other sources, we learn that Mr. Berg was living in a Baghdad hotel until April 10, when he "disappeared". Then on May 8, 2004 American soldiers find his body and head "hanging from a highway overpass" on May 8, 2004 in Baghdad.
The FBI apparently has admitted that the three interviews with the jailed Nick Berg took place on March 25, 26 and one more time in "early April". The FBI also has admitted to doing an extensive background check on Mr. Berg, which leads us to our next suspicious point.
From this website, it's quite clear that Nick Berg had some enemies who perhaps forwarded his father's name and information to FBI or other channels in Iraq. We learn that Nick Berg's first trip to Iraq was uneventful but then during his second trip he was arrested by Iraqi police. Certainly an odd coincidence and quite unfortunate that Nick Berg's father had such hateful enemies, who may or may not have contributed to his detention.
What is also unusual is that the Berg family was told of their son's decapitation but asked that the manner of his death not be released to the general public. Suddenly then, seemingly out of nowhere, the videotape of it is released on some obscure website I cannot find and every newspaper worldwide picks it up? Very odd.
And of course the political timing could not be more perfect for the United States. There is talk now that no further pictures or evidence of Iraqis being tortured by Americans will be released.
What's also quite odd is that the U.S. government is saying that they offered Nick Berg a free plane flight out of Iraq, but he refused. Refused a free plane flight when he wanted to leave the country? That's odd.
We also learn that not only does Berg have Iraqi neighbors from back home, but also has an Iraqi uncle:
Michael Berg told the AP that Nicholas' paternal aunt, now dead, married an Iraqi man named Mudafer, who became close to Nicholas. In one of the e-mails, Nicholas Berg describes going to the northern city of Mosul, where he introduced himself to Mudafer's brother, identified as Moffak Mustaffa.
The United States also continues to say Berg was never in their custody, just the custody of the Iraqi police. What the fuck? How could the Iraqi police hold one single American without the consent and authorization of the United States? General Kimmitt, the highest ranking American in Iraq, says this:
Kimmitt said U.S. forces kept tabs on Berg during his confinement to make sure he was being fed and properly treated because "he was an American citizen."
Oh yeah? Then what were the charges? Why was he held in an Iraqi jail for so long? Why did a lawsuit against the AMERICAN military result in his release from IRAQI jail?
There are certainly more questions than answers, and I don't want to act or seem like I know something that others don't. I'm just doing my best to piece together theevidence I've discovered concerning the unfortunate and untimely death of what appeared to be a very sweet and kind man. I feel sorry for the Berg family and my condolences go out to them.
I just cannot help but feel that somehow the events relating to Mr. Berg's death are being manipulated for the Bush administration's political profit, and for that I am truly sorry.
This is a picture of the ghouls (see the guy eating the pizza?) waiting outside the Berg family home, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of them as they grieve for their loved one, Nick Berg, beheaded on camera and seen by the entire world.
I don't know if I am more disgusted by the sight of these ghouls or knowing that I and everyone else interested in the tragic and violent end to Nick Berg's life contributed to this.
There's plenty more updates:
We've got to track down the mysterious Omar Abu Omar, the owner of the website which published the video of the beheading. We've got to figure out who exactly is operating out of "33 New Dream Street" in Nurnberg, Denmark. If you live in Denmark, maybe you can call 965 154 41211 for all of us and find out.
Meanwhile here is an email a U.S. "consular officer" sent to the Berg family on April 1, 2004.
Then we've got Nick Berg giving a 9/11 suspect use of his email (why? why not use hotmail?). Then we've got the mysterious "Oklahoma" connection, ala Timothy McVey and now Zacarias Moussaoui, the guy who is supposed to be some kind of terrorist but hasn't been convicted of shoplifting despite being on trial for.... how long has it been? Months? Years?
Then we've got all this crap about Zarqawi being a "poisons expert" like he's on the A-Team or Charlie's Angels or something. It won't be long before there's an action figure series of all these Al-Qaeda guys.
And how can we forget the "anonymous CIA official" declaring for certain that some piece of shit digitized home video is DEFINITELY this Al-Zarqawi guy. Why is he wearing a mask if he's so proud of what he did? Since when do Al-Qaeda masterminds start wearing masks? And wearing a gold ring? Wearing of gold by men is specifically forbidden by Islam. Any Muslim could tell you that.
Then we've got Al Jazeera, a channel which should know it's Arabic, saying the Arabic was not that of a native. Plus a whole hatful of conspiracy theories, which isn't surprising that the United States has barely EVER fought a war without some sort of conspiracy to egg it on:
- Spanish-American war: Fake "attack" on the Maine
- Vietnam War: Fake "Gulf of Tonkin" attack
- World War 2: Fake "sneak attack" on Pearl Harbor
- Iraq War 1: Fake "incubator babies" on the floor report
- Iraq War 2: Fake "proof" of WMD's of all kinds (including SPY planes!)
- Panama: Fake "need to arrest" CIA-sponsored President Noriega
- Grenada: Fake "communist threat"
I won't even mention the fact that all the warbloggers and war porn lovers are now frothing at the mouth for revenge. Revenge on who? Revenge on some Lebanese/Palestinian/Jordanian guy with a fake leg who is a "poisons expert"?
What about the fact that George W. Bush his fucking self condemned the beheading but completed passed by an opportunity to get Zarqawi back in 2002? Huh? What do you say about that?
In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.
The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.
"Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn't do it," said Michael O'Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.
Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.
The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.
"People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president's policy of preemption against terrorists," according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.
In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.
The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.
Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi's operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.
The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late -- Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone. "Here's a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we're suffering as a result inside Iraq," Cressey added.
And despite the Bush administration's tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi's killing streak continues today.
Somebody want to explain THAT to the Berg family???
Look... do I know who killed him? No. Do I know how it was done or why or who? No. But it's easy to see who benefits from this and who doesn't. The "who doesn't" are the Iraqis, who no longer have the (temporary) sympathy of the greater American public. Now ask, "who benefits from that?" and that should point us in the right direction.
By the way, if you said "Zarqawi benefits", I think you're barking up the wrong tree.
Quick! Time for a pop quiz. Which countries were first to condemn the beheading?
Give up? Answer: Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Surprised? I mean come on, in Saudi Arabia they behead people officially!.
Want to hear something ELSE surprising? Both Hamas and Hezbollah have condemned it too. Sense a pattern here?
"Hizbullah condemns this grisly act which has caused great harm to Islam and to Muslims by this group which falsely claims to belong to the religion of mercy, compassion and genuine human values," the statement said.
"By its suspicious actions and links, this group belongs to the Pentagon school - the school of killings, occupation, crime, torture and immoral practices as exposed by the big scandal in the occupation prisons."
Osama Hamdan, Hamas' representative in Lebanon, denounced both Berg's killers and President Bush.
"I condemn this brutal act and sympathize with the family of the slain American person, who I consider a victim of the wrong U.S. policies in the region," Hamdan told The Associated Press. "U.S. President George Bush and (Berg's) killers are equally responsible."
Both Hizbullah and Hamas said the beheading damaged Arab causes, and predicted the United States would use it to turn attention away from the prisoner abuse scandal.
Weird huh? VERY weird.
I'll let George Bush, the fucking idiot who got all of us into this mess, have the final word:
As Berg's body was being flown home to the US on a military transport plane, Mr Bush flatly dismissed the claim by his killers that they were avenging the humiliation prisoners had suffered at the hands of US soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
So even though the fucking guys who did it said they did it BECAUSE of Abu Ghraib, they're wrong??
I want a sip of whatever he's drinking. It must be some good shit.
Gosh I hate to do this, but today there are even MORE bits and pieces to the puzzle of Nick Berg's life and death to piece through. Shall we begin?
Well, we already know about the link with the "20th 9/11 hijacker" Moussaoui but did you know they met on a bus ride?
This is interesting because the Berg family does not seem to be hurting for money (that's not a criticism, just a fact). So why was young Nick taking a long bus ride to college? I mean, why didn't he either have a car or else live close enough to walk?
And why share your "email" information with anyone? Anyway it's clear that the FBI interviewed him at some point (while on American soil) concerning this, which makes it even more unusual that the FBI would later be interviewing him while in custody in Mosul, Iraq.
It's also extremely odd that Moussaoui didn't get the password/information from Nick Berg, he got it from a THIRD person, who at this point is still unidentified.
Then today we've got Berg's father directly blaming President Bush and Rumsfeld, which is an extremely strong and harsh thing to say. Nick Berg's father ALSO said that the Patriot Act was a "coup d'etat". Wow! Those are some angry words.
Read this excerpt carefully:
"I have a written statement from the State Department in Baghdad ... saying that my son was being held by the military," Berg said. "I can also assure you that the FBI came to my house on March 31 and told me that the FBI had him in Mosul in an Iraqi prison.
I already linked to the email showing that the United States had Mr. Berg in custody, NOT the Iraqi police. Mr. Berg is saying the same thing there. Why won't they admit it? If they said "oh we thought he might be a terrorist" or something, then at least it'd be more truthful than saying they didn't hold him when the Berg family has all kinds of proof they did. Why lie about it?
The most revealing article today is about Hugo Infante,a Chilean journalist who was apparently one of Berg's best friends in Iraq. Mr. Infante ALSO confirms that Berg was being held in the custody of Americans. This has to be taken as something to be without a doubt, a.k.a. a fact.
Then we find out that Berg was held not just in an Iraqi prison but in an Iraqi prison for foreigners. That's weird. Especially since the FBI and CPA authorities continue to maintain that this prison was under the control of the official Iraqi police.
Leaving Berg aside, how were the other foreigners being treated by collaborated Iraqi police? Interesting question.
The most sinister clue that Infante leaves us is this quote: "I thought, my God, this is the guy. A different guy. More skinny, more pallid". Indeed the pictures of Berg do NOT look very much like the beheaded man in the video. Yet we know Nick Berg was buried today by his family, so we have to assume at least one of them identified the body. Right?
It also seems that both Berg as well as his other non-aligned American business buddies in Iraq were all making LOTS of money. That in itself is an interesting piece of information. I wonder who is paying them, Iraqis or American contractors (and subcontractors)?
Then we get this link wherein the Mosul Iraqi police deny EVER holding Berg, not in March and not in April. What the fuck, right?
However, police chief Major General Mohammed Khair al-Barhawi told reporters Thursday that his department had never arrested Berg.
"The Iraqi police never arrested the slain American," he said. "Take it from me... that such reports are baseless."
Let's review the various stories, shall we?
Berg arrested (by Iraqi police) for having Israeli customs stamp in his passport
Berg arrested (by Iraqi police) for being "linked to terrorism" because he shared his password with Moussaoui
Berg arrested (by Iraqi police) for his "own protection" because it was a dangerous area
Berg arrested (by Iraqi police) for having suspicious electronic equipment
Berg in custody of Americans, per emails sent by U.S. consular office to Berg family
Berg in custody of Americans, per Berg family statements
Berg in custody of Americans, per Chilean friend who knew Berg
Berg in custody of Americans, per the Iraqi freaking police chief in Mosul
Berg in custody of Iraqi police, which means in custody of Americans, per common sense
Which is it? Then we get an even weirder piece of information:
Despite the police chief's statement, a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Berg was detained by Iraqi authorities "for his own protection" because his behaviour in Mosul seemed unusual for a westerner.
He had been seen travelling in taxis and moving about the dangerous city without any escort, the official said. He added that Berg, who was Jewish, had written materials which were "anti-Semitic" in tone, the official said without elaborating.
Anti-Semitic? What? After that article in the Forward about his increased sense of Judaism and being a Jew? Which is it? Is he in touch with his Jewish identity or is he writing anti-Semitic stuff?
According to this report, it was a copy of the Koran and some other pretty hateful literature. But why?
Well, at least we seem to know Nick Berg's last job in America prior to going to Iraq: working for radio station WHWK, a country music station.
We already know he had an Iraqi business partner from the United States, and now we find out he EXPECTED to have a contract when he returned for his second visit. Who that contract was supposed to be with is unknown, but I can't imagine that ANYONE would have enough money for large-scale communication towers except the American military and its contractors. Yet his business was not licensed or registered in Pennsylvania (his home state) and it was NOT on the list of approved contractors in Iraq.
There's also new information on the "Al Fanar" hotel, where Berg spent his last known nights in early April. It's apparently a place where every peacenik, activist, progressive, liberal and anti-war Westerners all hung out. In other words, the few foreigners not currently in Iraq to support the occupation OR to fight against the Americans. There's also credible evidence that the local CIA station was right near this hotel. Odder and odder.
By far the most CHILLING information I just learned is that Berg was working on towers at Abu Ghraib, the now infamous prison in Baghdad. It also appears he was taking a lot of pictures, including while working at Abu Ghraib. Coincidence?
That link also mentions again the Iraqi contract he had or thought he had. We also learn that on April 14, the American consular office "sent a private contractor" to see if Berg was still at the Al Fanar hotel. What the fuck? What kind of private contractor? A Blackwater special ops guy? An Israeli interrogation specialist? Or some Filipino truck driver?
There are also still a ton of questions about the video and the supposed perpetrator, Al-Zarqawi.
I already mentioned Al-Jazeera's article where they say the Arabic is not that of a native speaker (which Zarqawi is). I've seen a report where someone says you can hear one man speaking to another in Russian on the video.
If you look at the video, it also appears that there is one guy who begins the head cutting part and then the tape jumps and magically that guy is off to the side while a new guy is right there (they have different colored head masks).
Here is a link to a March 2004 article listing all the mysteries about al-Zarqawi, who regularly gets blamed for every attack, just like Osama used to (where the hell is Osama anyway? Is the guy in a coma or dead or what?).
The most significant excerpt is this:
Perhaps the strongest argument in favor of Zarqawi as culprit was a leaflet signed by an unprecedented 12 underground opposition groups, insisting that he had been killed already by American bombs; the leaflets were distributed after the Karbala and Baghdad blasts in the Sunni triangle towns of Falluja and Ramadi. And they may even be right. "There is no direct evidence of whether he's alive or dead at this point," said Brigadier General David Rodriquez, deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs, at a press conference Thursday.
12 separate underground opposition groups say Zarqawi is dead?? Why would they all get together and say that? Are they all under his command and so lie about him or maybe could it be the truth?
Then we've got President Bush in Wisconsin saying he's 100% certain Zarqawi did it. How can he be so sure? Because the U.S. government was tracking Zarqawi in and out of Baghdad! If that's so, why didn't they arrest him??
One other tangential issue, and I know this is true because I've seen some video excerpts of it (some of you know the sickos I work with), but it was fairly commonplace for Afghanis the U.S. supported to behead captured Russians during that awful war in the 1980's. Where was the revulsion then? There were also beheadings during the civil wars in Yugoslavia, many of the unfortunate men beheaded being Serbs. In both cases, where was the outrage?
And finally, good old Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Iraqi who is making Rumsfeld's hair get whiter, is saying that the beheading was fabricated by the United States. It's not really a question of whether or not he's right, the immediate significance is, how many Iraqis believe him?
Oh, I should mention that two teachers have been suspended and the city of San Diego is in a furor over the fact that some teachers played the video of the beheading in class. I definitely believe that's not the kind of thing those teachers should be doing (if they did it), but the most troubling part is all the fuss and counseling these kids will get because of the "harm" of seeing/hearing the video.
I say that because their parents and government find images of war "harmful" but continue to vote for it and finance it anyway. Irony.
The fourth part in a series on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the untimely demise of Nick Berg, an American citizen.
Let me first say that this is not an attempt to build an accusation of a "conspiracy". This is actually to ask more questions than to provide answers, through a careful study of the facts and information released via the media about Nick Berg, what he was doing in Iraq, whom he met, and under what circumstances did he die.
Today's very first link is this article by Seymour Hersh, which does not concern Nick Berg but rather how the torture and abuse of Iraqis by Americans at Abu Ghraib came about. This is a critical piece to this puzzle, because there is no doubt that the RELEASE of the video of Nick Berg's death came at a time when the number one focus in America was on the torture of Iraqis.
After this video, the focus became less clear, with some Americans now wanting "revenge" for Nick Berg's death and others wanting further clarification. There have also been movements by American politicians to block the further release of Iraqi torture photos, so clearly the Berg video had a significant impact.
But back to Berg himself.
We have learned that the Berg family specifically requested to receive Nick Berg's body when it arrived in the United States. However, it was the Department of Defense that specifically DENIED them permission to do so. Why? The poor man is already dead, why deny the family the right to receive his earthly remains?
The most obvious explanation would be that if the Berg family went to Dover, Delaware (where it arrived), they would bring publicity and cameras and reporters with them, thus bringing attention to OTHER flag-draped coffins of Americans coming home from the war. And we all know, it is practically illegal to film these coffins. Another less likely explanation (but still possible) is that some kind of doctoring or manipulation of his body was performed, perhaps to discourage an autopsy to find out how Nick Berg REALLY died.
Considering his family is Jewish and that he was given a Jewish burial, it was fairly unlikely that they would have ordered an autopsy (generally prohibited in Judaism), but perhaps because of the anti-war sentiments of the Berg family, it still might have been done. Alas, we will never know because he was indeed buried without an autopsy being performed.
I'd like to note that I'm not the only one upset with the ghoulish behavior of the press, which tried to crash the burial ceremony:
Several dozen photographers and TV crews filmed from behind police barriers at the edge of a highway about 100 yards away. Passing motorists yelled, "Go home!" and "Shame!" at the media.
Concerning whether or not Nick Berg was ever in U.S. custody in Iraq, that link goes to a series of emails from U.S. consular officer Beth A. Payne to the Berg family, clearly identifying that Nick Berg was indeed in American hands. For your erudition:
March 31, 2004, 3:16 p.m.
I've been trying to return your wife's call, but the line is busy. I attempted to locate your son without success. If I can locate him, I will ask him to call so you know his situation.
April 1, 1:26 a.m. (To Michael Berg, Berg's father)
I have confirmed that your son, Nick, is being detained by the U.S. military in Mosul. He is safe. He was picked up approximately one week ago. We will try to obtain additional information regarding his detention and a contact person you can communicate with directly.
April 1, 5:23 a.m. (To Suzanne Berg, Berg's mother)
I have been able to confirm that your son is being detained by the U.S. military. I am attempting to identify a person with the U.S. military or FBI here in Iraq who you can contact directly with your questions.
April 2, 1:25 p.m.
I have been trying to identify a local contact here, but given the security situation in Iraq it is not easy. I will continue to try.
That "local contact" was later identified as a "private contractor", whose nationality and function is still unknown. This list proves that it was not just one token email, but rather a series of them, from this woman Beth Payne who obviously was communicating that she knew Berg was in American custody. Considering this has been flatly denied by American sources in Iraq, I have to wonder what's going on with regard to this.
Those emails are also directly contradicted by the U.S. State Department:
But State Department spokeswoman Kelly Shannon said late Thursday that the diplomat had been given erroneous information from the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Not until one day after Berg's release from jail was the diplomat told that Iraqi police had held Berg, Shannon said.
``As Mr. Berg had been released, the consular officer did not convey this information to the family because he was released, thankfully -- he was released,'' Shannon said late Thursday. ``And we thought he was on his way.''
Really? So where was the email to the Berg family saying that? After all, he had been missing for more than a month before the video was released. Why didn't Ms. Payne email them to tell them this new information?
Here is some more information on the website that "published" the video of Nick Berg's beheading:
Domains: al-ansar.net, al-ansar.biz, ansar.ws
Host: Jazzira Net
Umloj, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia
Whois summary for al-ansar.net/ansar.ws:
R., rachid firstname.lastname@example.org
184 High Holborn
London, London WC1V 7AP
2078312310 (this a fax/data line, I phoned it)
Clearly there is information tying that website to England, as well as what appears to be a valid phone line. If this website was actually paid for and used by Al-Qaeda members, wouldn't this be a vital clue to finding them? If so, why hasn't there been any reaction by the British government to this clue?
I had to turn to the Tehran Times out of Iran to get the whole transcript of what Nick Berg's father Michael said on WBUR radio station:
[W]hat cost my son his life was the fact the US government saw fit to keep him in custody for 13 days without any of due process or civil rights and released him when they were good and ready. It goes further than Donald Rumsfeld. It's the whole Patriot Act, it's the whole feeling in this country that rights don't matter any more because there are terrorists about. Well in my opinion `terrorist' is just another word like `communist' or `witch' and it's a witchhunt and this whole administration is just representing something that is not America."
What's more than just odd is that I've said the same thing myself in the past. Clearly Mr. Berg the elder is not a fan of this war, and I don't think the Bush administration quite knows what to do with him while they try to profit politically from his son's death.
On the "conspiracy" side of things, we've got this link, which says that at least one of the weapons held by the masked men was an Israeli "Gilal" variant of the AK-47.
Meanwhile President Bush is clearly and undoubtedly using Nick Berg's death for political profit, using it as motivation to continue the war of occupation in Iraq.
What's odd about Bush's statement is his vow to "hunt down" Berg's killers, which is almost laughably ridiculous simply because Bush hasn't "hunted down" anyone who has EVER killed an American, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, etc. Give me a break.
"We must confront the enemy and stay on the offensive until these killers are defeated," Bush said yesterday in his weekly radio address, as he sought to shift the focus from the abuse of some Iraqi prisoners by American troops.
Here is the complete transcript of Bush's remarks.
In contrast, there is growing evidence that most Arabs were quite upset about the Berg video: primarily because they were finally getting some sympathy and understanding from the west over the torture photographs.
Why would it be in their interest to inflame the west with such a stunt? Why would Zarqawi or any other "Al-Qaeda" propagandist benefit from such a stunt? Again, when major events occur, it's always important to see who benefits.
Most Iraqis, it is true, have also been incensed by last week's video showing the decapitation of Nick Berg, a 26-year-old American contractor, apparently by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an ally of Osama bin Laden - a killing specifically linked to Abu Ghraib by the kidnappers. But mingled with the moral revulsion felt among many Iraqis, there was also fury. The reason? They believe it will distract attention at a time when the world was for the first time confronting American abuses against Iraqis, because of the Abu Ghraib photographs.
In contrast however, we learn about the tragic death of Cassey Auguste, an American gunned down in Haiti after the coup against Aristide. This death was clearly at the hands of the gangs supported by American policy, yet where is the Bush's administration's vow to hunt these killers down? Interesting question.
Marguerite Laurent of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network has written to U.S. Ambassador James Foley requesting an investigation in to the incident. Thus far, it has received no media coverage
If the major media's coverage of Haiti thus far is any indication, Cassey's murder will go virtually unnoticed. He is not by any means alone. The "rebel" forces, with the active support of the Bush administration, have unleashed a campaign of terror on the Haitian people, particularly supporters of Lavalas. Some estimates have the body count as high as 3,000. One report from the National Lawyer's Guild found that over a thousand bodies were dumped in a mass grave by the state morgue in March, which is more than ten times the usual number of bodies.
Well, if you're a regular reader of my postings, you're quite familiar with the fact that America ignores and forgets about Haiti, even though they are both currently occupied by American forces. I guess Haiti isn't "sexy" enough for most Americans.
We've also just learned that part of the reason the FBI questioned Berg while in custody in Iraq was to determine if he had ever "built a pipe bomb" or had been to Iran. Why? Why ask him these questions?
One final piece of the puzzle is the relationship between the videotaped beheading of Nick Berg and that of Daniel Pearl, the Israeli citizen killed in Pakistan in 2002. Pearl's widow, Mariane Pearl (whose religion is Buddhism!) was in Milwaukee on Wednesday May 12, 2004 to speak about her husband's death:
Mariane Pearl, speaking as part of a "From the Heart" lecture series, said that when her husband failed to return home from a scheduled meeting and was out of cell phone range, she knew something was terribly wrong.
"We knew it was al-Qaida. We knew it was the people who sent planes into the World Trade Center. We knew they were people who did not have pity," she said.
She said she stayed calm because she knew her husband was calm throughout the ordeal and she didn't want the assailants to break her spirit, just as they couldn't break his spirit.
"I was so determined to not let them win even if they were going to take our lives," she said.
Despite the horror of the deaths of her husband and Berg, the urge to take revenge must be resisted, she said.
"Those who killed Danny and those who killed Nicholas Berg are despicable people, but violence doesn't end violence," she said.
In photos released by her husband's kidnappers, Pearl said she could see him smiling and giving the "V for victory" sign.
"You can take somebody's life, but you can't take their strong spirit - and that's what the terrorists want, to take our strong spirit," she said.
Mariane Pearl, 36, published a book in September about her ordeal, "A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband." She was a French freelance journalist when she married her husband in 1999. Two days before the kidnapping, they learned she was carrying a baby. Three months after Daniel Pearl was killed, she gave birth to their son, Adam.
This is interesting because Ms. Pearl has been actively lobbying the American Congress for a million dollars. Say what?
"Danny Pearl was brutally killed in the course of investigating people who were involved in the 9/11 attacks," [her lawyer] said.
Pearl was kidnapped while in Pakistan working a story about convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid. He was killed by terrorists from The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty, a group U.S. authorities believe is tied to Al Qaeda.
I'm not criticizing the Pearl family. It's just an interesting angle to the entire story. There is a lot of controversy over the death of Mr. Pearl in Pakistan to this day, and yet you will notice that it's been a long time since you heard about Richard Reid. What is his status?
Here is an extensive article from Pakistan about fresh evidence about Mr. Pearl's beheading video. Among the most critical new news concerning this:
Video film of Pearl's murder, seen around the world via the Internet, was in fact a partial reconstruction of what had happened a few moments earlier, police officers were told by recently arrested suspects. The camera operator made a mistake and missed the moment of his death, which his murderers then re-enacted, before decapitating the reporter.
Could the same thing have happened to Berg? Clearly the video of Berg's death is extremely low quality, there are obvious jerky edits and the part where he is actually dying is blurry and has numerous gaps.
Read the entire article to see how the case against Pearl's killers is falling apart, including the fact that some of the co-conspirators were Kuwaiti nationals "fluent in Arabic, Balochi and Farsi". Very strange indeed.
On the conspiracy angle, check out this website for the infamous "White Chair" theory: that Berg was actually killed inside Abu Ghraib prison.
And finally, I leave you with this link to the Nick Berg memorial website, where lots of his neighbors and loved ones have left messages about this young man.
From all accounts, he seemed to be a genuinely good and kindly young man, and many of these messages will make you cry. It also makes me seriously doubt that Berg was some kind of "covert agent", simply because he was too genuinely nice. An excerpt from his old high school band teacher:
I remember this one kid curly headed kid with glasses an eighth grader (13), on my first day he noticed that I was wearing a "shark" watch that I had gotten for Christmas. He told me that if I pressed all four buttons, I would see a shark swim across the face. I immediately did this and the watch deprogrammed itself. Hilarious, right?
You think I would have learned my