Bloggers doubt Berg execution video

UPDATE: Aljazeera

Bloggers doubt Berg execution video
By Lawrence Smallman 
Thursday 13 May 2004, 17:18 Makka Time, 14:18 GMT 

Was this really Nick Berg's last moment or was he killed earlier?

Revolting millions around the world, the video footage of an American citizen's
execution has also raised numerous questions concerning its authenticity.

Even at first glance, internet bloggers were asking on Thursday why Nick Berg
was wearing an orange jumpsuit - just like US prisoners wear.

Other net-surfers point to the unlikely timing of the executioner's dubbed
announcement that Berg was to die for "Iraqi prisoner abuse".

Berg was last seen alive on 10 April, when his father Michael Berg believes he
was killed - two weeks before the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal broke in the
world's media.

Some discussions focus on the timing of the video's release - guaranteed to
divert attention from the outrage regarding US torture of Iraqis.

Video oddities

There are plenty of questions raised concerning the video too. The body is
completely motionless even as the knife is brought to bear - not so much as an
instinctive wriggle.

More graphically, some claim that cutting the throat's artery would cause a
significant amount of blood. But little emerges and when the head was raised -
not a drop of blood is seen to fall.

"That's really what cost my son his life, the fact that the United States
government saw fit to keep him in custody for 13 days without any of his due
process(es) or civil rights"

Michael Berg,
victim's father
 
In a possible explanation, one discussion room member suggested that Berg was
killed and then beheaded later.

However, the circumstances of the video release are also strange. A Reuters
journalist in Dubai first named the Muntada al-Ansar al-Islami website as the
source for the video - at www.al-ansar.biz.

Although the site has now been shut down, Aljazeera.net had looked at the site
within ninety minutes of the story breaking - and could find no such video
footage.

But Fox News, CNN and the BBC were all able to download the footage from the
Arabic-only website and report the story within the hour.

Days leading to death

Other questions presented by bloggers are Berg's peculiar circumstances in the
weeks before his death. Why would a private Jewish American citizen choose to
wander around Iraq by himself?

Additionally, some have pointed out that his last email on 6 April to his family
stated he wished to return home as soon as possible - yet the FBI claim he
refused an offer of help to get home.

 
Some claim the face in the video
looks remarkably unlike Nick Berg
 
In the wider press, FBI involvement has also generated much discussion as to why
Berg was really arrested and detained for two weeks in Mosul.

The unemployed visitor was suspicious enough for Iraqi police to arrest him -
with FBI knowledge.

He had only just been released from prison where he had been held for 13 days by
Iraqi police for reasons he said he did not know.

Family blames government

A US newspaper claims an official familiar with the case knew that FBI agents
had interogated Berg, but had left him for two weeks because he was in Iraqi -
not American - custody.

But the official was unable to clarify the legal difference between the two,
given the US occupation.

On 5 April, Berg's family filed a suit in federal court in Philadelphia -
contending that their son was being held illegally by the US military in Iraq.
The next day he was released and left to get himself home.

 
Michael Berg has publicly blamed
US occupation forces for death
 
The last time the family heard from him was on 9 April, his headless body was
found near Mosul on 8 May.

"That's really what cost my son his life, the fact that the United States
government saw fit to keep him in custody for 13 days without any of his due
process or civil rights," Michael Berg said.

Final question

Some bloggers focused on the accent of the purported executioner. Many deny the
accent is either Iraqi or Jordanian - while claims the voice is Egyptian or
Iranian have been made.

The Jordanian accused of the beheading Berg is himself believed to have been
killed in March, according to two Islamist groups.

An eight-page leaflet circulated this week in Falluja, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was
killed in the Sulaimaniya mountains of northern Iraq during a US bombing.

But even if it was the Jordanian, one discussion room member observes his face
is so well-known that "why would he bother to cover it?"


Aljazeera

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BEHEADING OF NICK BERG
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