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Posted Wednesday, May 12, 2004

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Nick BergBeheaded on camera

By Robin Gedye, Alec Russell and Oliver Poole

AN American was yesterday shown being beheaded by terrorists in Iraq vowing revenge for the abuse of prisoners by US soldiers.

The man, who identified himself as Nick Berg, a Philadelphia businessman missing since April 9, read out a statement before five men wearing headscarves and black ski masks pulled him aside and cut off his head with a large knife, crying "God is great" over the sound of his screams.

click for origin

David Irving comments:

OUR initial reaction to the killing of a human being as a public spectacle is one of shock and revulsion.
   The words uttered by President Bush are dripping with hypocrisy, however, coming as they do from a president who has signed more execution warrants as Governor of Texas than any other governor in recent history; and not a few of them have been filmed for the benefit of television documentaries.
   Moreover, how many World War Two executions did the Americans photograph and film, often in excruciating detail?

LET us however stand back and review the few facts that have so far been entrusted to us by the authorities, and on which the scared media have so far breathed no comment.
   First, the man was executed wearing an orange jump suit: I have long been wondering, and expressed to colleagues the opinion, that Iraqi resistance would gain maximum global propaganda effect by putting their captives through the same humiliating and painful hoops that the Americans use in Camp Delta at Guantánamo.
   We British are unfortunately accomplices (even if unwilling ones) in the atrocities at Camp Delta.


Second, it was Donald Rumsfeld who announced or implied when he and his cronies embarked on their "war on terror" in the Middle East that the United States did not intend to abide by the Geneva Conventions.
   Third, was this latest victim of Washington's folly the same kind of "American" as Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl -- i.e. a 100 percent Israeli citizen, merely working in or from America, and probably a Mossad agent? We still remember the fury of the Pearl family, living in Israel, when an Israeli newspaper blew his cover.
   The clue to this, apart from the obvious ones, is that "Philadelphia businessmann" Nick Berg is said to have been a "civilian contractor".
   Most of the Israeli assistance to the Coalition Forces in Iraq is in the form of civilian contractors -- i.e. hired mercenaries, supplied to operate in the fields of prisoner of war interrogation (Abu Ghraib!), Intelligence, or contract killings.
   It is remarkable, is it not, that Berg was captured on April 9, over a month ago and yet not a word of his capture was breathed in the US media about it until now, when he has met his savage end. Nor do I recall any reports on the discovery of his body on Saturday.
   So: remember -- you read it first here. If he was a naive and luckless Philadelphia businessman, trapped and mangled by the Moloch that his bellicose regime have created in Iraq, then truly our hearts go out to his family; if he was however a hired mercenary engaged on some covert plain clothes operation, and captured by his enemies and dealt with as a spy, this must mitigate our feelings of compassion.
   That said, in a civilized society it is justice that must be seen to be done, not execution.

Family's anger, as Ha'aretz reveals that murdered WSJ journalist Daniel Pearl was Israeli citizen [US media had "agreed to hush this up"] | A fine leftist Opinion column on the killing

Masked men stand over Nick Berg shortly before he was beheaded They then held the head out in front of the camera. The horrifying video was posted yesterday on a militant Islamic website which claimed that Abu al-Zarqawi, a close ally of Osama bin Laden and America's most wanted man in Iraq, personally carried out the murder.

The killers said the murder was revenge for the abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. They said America would not receive "anything from us but coffins after coffins, slaughtered in this way".

President George W Bush, who is facing one of his gravest political crises over the prisoner abuse scandal, said Mr Berg's killers would be pursued and brought to justice.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. It shows the true nature of the enemies of freedom. They have no regard for the lives of innocent men, women and children." In London, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "If this is genuine, then it is utterly repugnant and indefensible".

Mr Bush's administration had warned that the publication of the prisoner abuse photos, which have provoked outrage across the world, in particular the Middle East, would lead to the loss of more American lives. The beheaded man was wearing an orange jump suit and had his hands bound.

"My name is Nick Berg, my father's name is Michael, my mother's name is Suzanne," the man said. "I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah. I live in Philadelphia."

A hooded man then read out a statement accusing America of rejecting an offer to swap Mr Berg for some of the detainees in Abu Ghraib. Mr Berg was then pushed to the floor and murdered.

The video was shown on a website which is well-known for publishing statements from al-Qa'eda and its affiliates. The video was called "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi slaughtering an American". Because of the masks, it was impossible to confirm that the murderer was Zarqawi.

America has issued a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture or killing of Zarqawi, a Jordanian, whom they accuse of building a network of Islamist insurgents in Iraq.

The body of Mr Berg, 26, was found by a road underpass in Baghdad on Saturday. He owned a communications equipment company and was on his third trip to Iraq in the past six months when he disappeared last month.

The video capped the week-old political row over responsibility for the abuses in prisons in Iraq. In the latest development, Major Antonio Taguba, the general who highlighted the abuses in a hard-hitting report, testified to Congress that there had been major failures of leadership. But he added that there was no evidence the soldiers responsible for the abuses were acting under direct orders.

The scandal erupted when the CBS network broadcast pictures of US soldiers revelling in the humiliation of prisoners. The subsequent row has rocked the administration and led to calls for the resignation of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The chilling video rekindled memories of the videotaped murder of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, in Pakistan in 2002. For many Democrats it will be further proof of the folly of the policy in Iraq. But Bush supporters hope Americans will be so appalled that they rally behind the White House.

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said the killing was "an act of undiluted barbarism which will fill every civilised person with horror". He added: "It only serves to emphasise just how dangerous Iraq has become for coalition forces, including the British."

Mr Berg's activities remain unclear. His family said he was a reputable businessman who, according to his mother Suzanne Berg, travelled to Iraq because he was a "staunch supporter of the government position" and "had this idea he could help rebuild the infrastructure".

But, after failing to find work, he had told his family that he planned to return home on March 30 to attend a friend's wedding. However, he is understood to have been detained by Iraqi police in Mosul on March 24 and released 13 days later.

"He was arrested and held without due process," his father, Michael Berg, told a Philadelphia newspaper. While Mr Berg was in jail, his parents were questioned by the FBI "regarding his purpose in Iraq". Mr Berg was released on April 6 and made his way to a hotel in Baghdad. He was last heard from on April 9.


Conflicting stories emerge: 'Suspicious' activity: Beheading victim 'never in US custody'
Expanding the Taguba report: Israel's role in training US army in torture techniques

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