ReflectionsIs Berg’s case a setup to divert international attention from Abu Ghraib’s abuse scandal? [Archives:2004/742/Opinion]

May 31 2004

By Yahya Al-Olfi
[email protected]

In Yemen Times issue 738 I expressed my utter disgust at the sight of the alleged beheading and did mention that skepticism surrounded Nicholas Berg's incident amongst the Arab masses. I also referred to the Americans' adoption of Israel as their exclusive Middle Eastern Mentor. Hence, what happened, did happen because Israelis are habitually committing the same on a daily basis if not even more worse against the Palestinians and Arabs held in their prisons. The difference here is that the Israelis who asininely consider themselves superhumans have no Tagubas at all, nor do they ever give a damn about any international subhumans, Americans and Europeans included, because to them they are mere goyim like any others i.e. subhumans. Europeans and Americans verily deserve this Israeli classification for when it comes to Israel, America and Europe, sorry to say, just kneel submissively. Anyhow, it seems that somebody else is sharing my skepticism. The American writer Kurt Nimmo wrote an article titled “The Strange Case of Nicholas Berg” and here you are what he wrote “Fortuitously, some would say suspiciously, a grisly video turns up just in time to dampen the perilous flames of Abu Ghraib scorching the credibility of Rumsfeld and Bush. Nicholas Berg ) described as an independent contractor scouting work on communications towers in war-torn Iraq ) is brutally decapitated, his body found near a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday, May 8. Three days later a video of Berg's execution, allegedly entitled “Abu Musab al-Zarqawi shown slaughtering an American,” surfaces on an “al Qaeda-linked” web site. In a matter of hours the depravity of Abu Ghraib is locked in head-to-head competition for newspaper and television space with the murder of an innocent American. “Americans grappled with shocking new images of horror, from scenes of masked militants beheading a Pennsylvania man to descriptions of U.S. soldiers torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners,” writes Terence Hunt of the Associated Press. “After days of issuing apologies, President Bush shifted from defense to offense with a tough condemnation of terrorists.” Conspicuously ill at ease with the humbling prospect of assuming responsibility for the torture and mistreatment of Iraqi detainees (apologizing is not Dubya's forte), Bush grabbed the bull by the horns and mounted up the presidential saddle to strike a pose he finds far more to his liking ) that of the global village sheriff hunting down and smoking out terrorists. “The actions of the terrorists who executed this man remind us of the nature of the few people who want to stop the advance of freedom in Iraq,” said Bush from the White House. “Their intention is to shake our will. Their intention is to shake our confidence. Yet, by their actions, they remind us of how desperately parts of the world need free societies and peaceful societies. And we will complete our mission.” It was a godsend for reactionary radio talk show hosts and irate senators weary and angered by all the attention paid to what they consider the insignificant and wholly-overblown torture of Iraqis who they believe are criminals, terrorists, and murderers (even though the military admits many if not most ) possibly 90 percent ) of the Iraqis detained have done nothing wrong). “The U.S. government is committed to a very thorough and robust investigation to get to the bottom of this,” Dan Senor, spokesman for the occupation, promised reporters in Baghdad. But if the troublesome details surrounding the Berg case are any indication, the Bushites may want to leave the story alone and call off the investigation before it turns into another fiasco.
How is it Nicholas Berg ended up a captive of ) so were are told )
Psychopathic fundamentalist Muslims? Did he simply walk into a den of vipers or is there something else behind his abduction and murder?
It is now well established that Berg was in the custody of either the US
military or the Iraqi police (actually a component of the US military and
occupation at this point) prior to his disappearance and murder. On May 13 CNN reported that Berg “was detained by Iraqi police at a checkpoint in Mosul on March 24, under suspicion of possible involvement in illegal or terrorist activities.” Berg aroused sufficient interest that the FBI decided to visit him several times while he was in jail.
The FBI “met with him on three occasions and made their own determination that he was not suspected of being involved in any criminal or terrorist activities. But he was at no time under the jurisdiction or within the detention of coalition forces,” Senor said. But why would the FBI consider Berg a terrorist suspect in the first place?
Is it because his father is not only an outspoken critic of Bush's invasion?
and occupation but also because he decided to sue Donald Rumsfeld for
holding his son for nearly two weeks without charge or allowing him to seek legal representation? On April 5, the Bergs filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia, contending that their son was being held illegally by the US military in Iraq, according to the Associated Press. On the following day Nick Berg was released from custody. He disappeared three days later. “I still hold [Rumsfeld] responsible because if they had let him go after a more reasonable amount of time or if they had given him access to lawyers we could have gotten him out of there before the hostilities escalated, “Michael Berg said in an interview on Boston's WBUR radio station. “That's really what cost my son his life was the fact that the U.S. government saw fit to keep him in custody for 13 days without any of his 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 of this country that rights don't matter anymore because there are terrorists about.” But the FBI may have had additional incentive to single out Nick Berg. “The Free website and forum has a reputation for right-wing views, fanatical Republicanism and relentless pro-war activism,” writes Fintan Dunne, editor of “On 7th March, 2004, just three weeks before the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, an 'enemies' list of anti-war groups and individuals was posted on the Free Republic forum … It began: 'Here you are, FReepers. Here is the enemy' … Among those listed as having endorsed the call to action was this entry: 'Michael S. Berg, Teacher, Prometheus Methods Tower Service, Inc.'” Prometheus Methods Tower Service was the independent communications company owned by Nick Berg. Michael Berg was his son's business manager.
Is it possible Nick Berg's arrest and detention was not only ordered by the military but he was also set up to be brutally murdered? More than a few people seem to think so. Sam Hamod comments:
“There is [a] strange matter to this situation that troubles me. Why was Mr. Berg picked up by coalition forces and imprisoned, so much so that his family sued Donald Rumsfeld for his release and information on him. The military says it released him, but suddenly then, he disappeared because when people went to see him at the hotel he was allegedly registered at, he wasn't there and no one there knew of him. Very strange point number two is, why was Mr. Berg in an American issued orange jump suit ) the kind Americans put prisoners in, when he was photographed and killed? The Iraqis or other Arabs would have had him in Arab clothing so as not to draw suspicion to him of his being a prisoner ) not an orange jump suit. Also, the way the men were standing, and their size, as a person experienced in the middle east, most Arabs don't stand that way and most Iraqis are not that tall ) the men stand more like Westerners of some sort, or even Israelis, but not like Arabs or Iraqis.” Alex Jones of published several emails that raised additional questions about the alleged Muslims ) supposedly connected to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (said to be affiliated to al-Qaeda, although this allegation is tenuous at best):
“The picture the media is now showing of the guy the terrorists beheaded as revenge for what went on in the Iraqi prisons looks odd to me. If you look at the men dressed in black, they all seem well fed. Actually most look fat. That bothers me, because these guys are fighting a war and eating on the run. They are constantly on the move and should be either very fit and trim or scrawny and malnourished because of the same reasons. One thing they should not be is fat like couch potatoes. If you look at all of the photos of the prisoners who were naked who supposedly were just plucked of the street, most of them are thin.”
Another email sent to Jones makes a few trenchant points concerning the
“Tape obviously spliced together and heavily edited. Goes from a) Berg
sitting in chair talking about family, to b) Berg sitting on floor with
hooded “militants” behind, to c) blurry camera movement, to d) almost
motionless Berg on floor as head cut off … Audio clearly dubbed in …
“Arab” reader flips through pages of “statement” and keeps ending up on the same page. Perhaps doesn't even known enough Arabic to recognize what page he's on? … “Arabs” have lily-white hands and (other exposed) skin …”Arabs” have Western-style body posture and mannerisms … When Berg decapitated, there was almost no blood. If Berg were still alive at this point, with the cut starting at front of throat, blood would have been spraying everywhere. Berg's severed head, the floor, Berg's clothes, and even the hand of the “Arab” who decapitated Berg had no visible blood on it…. Berg's body didn't move while on the ground. Although held down, Berg would have tried to instinctively wiggle and writhe away from captor's grip… Camera angle made it impossible to see if Berg's eyes were even open …
Alleged “scream” from Berg sounded to be that of a woman and was clearly dubbed in.” When I first looked at captures from the video ) I have yet to see the actual video and quite frankly I don't want to see it ) I noticed immediately a lack of blood coming from Berg's severed head. This seemed very strange to me, even though I admit I am hardly an expert on such things) even so, it makes sense that a freshly severed head would bleed profusely, as the above comment points out. I can only assume from the comments of people who have the stomach to view the video that Berg did not struggle as al-Zarqawi cut off his head with a knife. If true, none of this makes any sense. Is it possible Berg was already dead or this may not even be Nick Berg in the video?
Finally, the blogger xymphora posted an interesting ) and entirely
plausible ) summary of what may have happened to the hapless Nick Berg:
“Reading between the lines of the many conflicting reports of the beheading of Nicholas Berg, it appears that he had been in the control of the U. S. military before his death, possibly using the Iraqi police as a front. He then mysteriously ended up in the hands of fundamentalist Iraqi freedom fighters. It is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Pentagon arranged for him to be turned over to the freedom fighters in order that Berg's inevitable death could be used to divert attention from the George W.Bush Rape Rooms and give the knuckle-dragging Americans another reason to think of Iraqis as sub-human and thus deserving of torture, rape, and murder at the hands of the Penta-torturers.” I don't necessarily buy into the theory that the US military, military intelligence, or the Israelis, either on their own or in cahoots with the above, killed Nick Berg. But I cannot discount it either, especially considering the repeated and continuous lies of the Bush administration and the blood-spattered history of US intelligence, especially the CIA. I'll end with another quote from Sam Hamod:
“We must also ask the question intelligence agencies use, 'Who would most benefit from this act?' In this case, if not Israel, then Bush and America to take the heat off of America for the brutality of the torture in Iraq and Guantanamo. This terrible act also took a lot of pressure off the U.S. Thus, it is also possible, since the killers were hooded, and thus we can't know who they were, that it could have been American counter-insurgency agents, CIA or mercenaries who did this heinous at a time when the glare of anger toward the U.S. was growing in the world. I don't know that this is true, but having worked in intelligence situations, I know it has been done in the past.”