Greb | 24.05.2004 17:05 | Anti-militarism
The video footage of an American citizen's execution has raised numerous questions concerning its authenticity as evidence grows that the event took place from inside the U.S. controlled Abu Ghraib prison.
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 over US abuse of Iraqis.
At first glance, people from around the world who saw the video were asking why Nick Berg was wearing an orange jumpsuit – just like US prisoners wear. 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 looked at the site within 90 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.
It has been claimed that evidence shows that the Berg decapitation was filmed inside the walls of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. The following points have been made by readers of Aljazeera:
1. Notice the standard US Military Police issued prisoner overalls that Nicholas Berg is wearing. The orange color prisoner overalls that Nicholas Berg is wearing are identical to the ones Islamic prisoners are made to wear by the US Military Police at the Guantanamo, Cuba.
2. Notice the white plastic chair that Nicholas Berg is sitting on. It is identical to the white plastic chair that the now infamous Pfc. Lynddie England is sitting on at the Abu Ghraib prison as shown here. This same white plastic chair can also be seen in other photographs of U.S. torture in the same prison.
3. The color and texture of the wall as shown in the frames taken from the video are the same as those of the Abu Ghraib prison.
4. Towards the end of the video, at frames 9306 through 9368, a person with a US military cap temporarily pokes about a quarter of his left head into the video. His neck, left ear and part of his cap and visor can be seen. Look at the right hand side as someone with a military cap, possibly with a second video camera, pokes his head into the video.
5. 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 to gush out. But little emerges and when the head was raised – not a drop of blood is seen to fall.
Family blames government
A US newspaper claims an official familiar with the case knew that FBI agents had interrogated 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. 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.
Some have 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 said Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in the Sulaimaniya mountains of northern Iraq during a US bombing. But even if it were the Jordanian, one discussion room member observes his face is so well-known that "why would he bother to cover it?"