[FoRK] Nick Berg's Killing: 50 Fishy Circumstances,
Contradictory Claims, and Videotape Anomalies (Politics)
Contempt for Meatheads
jbone at place.org
Mon May 17 13:38:29 PDT 2004
Via k5. My own hypothesis re: why he was there in the first place:
Berg was installing SIGINT intercept traps on the cell towers as an
"offroad" contractor for one of our spook shops.
Nick Berg's Killing: 50 Fishy Circumstances, Contradictory Claims, and
Videotape Anomalies (Politics)
By decon recon
Sun May 16th, 2004 at 05:36:52 PM EST
The video tape and circumstances of the killing of Nick Berg seem
fishier and fishier.
This article summarizes and lists 50 anomalies around Berg and his
A large number of anomalies surround the life and death of Nicholas
Berg. A Jewish man, 26 years of age and a U.S. Citizen, he traveled
alone in Iraq. Family and friends described Berg as an adventurer, high
spirited and intelligent. A Washington Post report notes, "Berg was a
weight lifting enthusiast and amateur comedian who had traveled abroad
to help people improve their lives. Among his trips was a visit to the
West African country of Ghana, where he taught villagers to make bricks
and returned emaciated because he gave away most of his food."
Berg visited Iraq from December, 2003, to January, 2004, and then again
starting March 14, 2004. Berg was purportedly looking for electrical
contracting work building radio towers. He could not find work, though
there was reportedly plenty.
On March 24, Iraqi officials arrested Berg at a checkpoint in Mosul and
jailed him, because of his Jewish last name and the Israeli stamp in
his passport. (See Washington Post report - reg req'd - or CSM
Terrorism & Security update for May 13, which excerpts stories about
Berg from various media.) Berg told friends in Baghdad that the
Israelis thought he might be a spy. (See Telegraph article, "Beheaded
American was arrested as a spy because of his Jewish name.") On April
05, 2004, the Bergs filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia,
contending that their son was being held illegally by the U.S. military
in Iraq. The next day, April 6, Nick Berg was released. On Saturday,
May 8, Berg's body was found outside of Baghdad on a highway overpass.
On May 11, 2004, a video of Nick Berg's execution, seemingly by
beheading, was posted on the Muntada al-Ansar website, which is now
There are conflicting reports about Berg's whereabouts in Iraq.
According to an email to the Berg family from Beth A. Payne, a U.S.
consular officer in Iraq, the U.S. military were holding Berg. This was
apparently for 13 days. Iraqi police denied holding Berg. In contrast,
the Telegraph article above notes, "Dan Senor, spokesman for the US-led
coalition in Iraq, insisted Mr. Berg was arrested and held by Iraqi
police." The timeline of Berg's captivity and the timing of the release
of the video are suspicious. If Payne was correct, why did the U.S.
military hold Nick Berg for two weeks? Why did the U.S. military deny
The video of the killing has many flaws including problems with time
skips, audio dubbing, and the characteristics, appearance and speech of
Berg and the killers. People from Middle Eastern cultures believe that
Middle Eastern people were not involved in this video, based on the
mannerisms, accents, behavior and appearance of the killers. A close
inspection of the video suggests that Westerners may have been
For a number of reasons, it does not appear that the Jordanian
terrorist Abu Masab Al-Zaraqawi, who was voice identified by the CIA
(and whose name was on the tape), was involved. He has a poorly
functioning prosthetic leg and a hand tattoo, which should have been
observed. Neither were. The accent of the speaker in the video was not
Jordanian. Why has the CIA seemingly lied about the analysis of
Al-Zarqawi's voice and his role in the killing?
Considering the many discrepancies and contradictions noted below, it
seems possible that the Berg killing is a poorly crafted psy-ops
exercise. This video was possibly constructed by U.S. operatives to
impact the extremely volatile political developments in the U.S. and
the international condemnation around the Abu Ghraib torture photos.
The torture photos are mentioned in the speech in the video, though
Berg may have been killed before the photos were circulated.
The majority of the points below are summarized and excerpted from
eight summary articles that culled points from news articles and blog
posts. (See links at end.) I compared, combined and edited the various
points. Further, I added more points based on my viewing of the video
(see Wizbang! Blog: Berg video site list) and by reviewing various news
articles. I also added a few points based on comments at kuro5hin.org.
Some of the points below are compelling. Some are weak or may turn out
to be insignificant or coincidental. This is a work in progress, an
early overview of discrepancies. There are too many discrepancies and
contradictions to dismiss doubts about the video and the official U.S.
stories about Berg. Additional inquiry and fact checking are needed as
the Berg story unfolds or, rather, unravels.
Points are included on these topics: Suspicious Circumstances and
Timeline; Timing of Killing and Videotape Release; Videotape of Berg,
His Decapitation, and Location; More Videotape Anomalies; Identity of
Killers of Berg and Their Possessions; and, Berg's Previous Activities
and Return of the Body
Suspicious Circumstances and Timeline
1) A Jewish man and U.S. citizen traveling alone in Iraq?
Why did a private Jewish American citizen choose to wander around Iraq
by himself? He also had a passport stamp from Israel - very unsafe to
2) Berg wanted to return home
In his last email on April 6 to his family, Berg stated he wished to
return home as soon as possible. The FBI claim he refused an offer of
help to get home (perhaps because of danger to get to airport).
3) Three FBI visits
The FBI made three visits to the Berg while he was in custody in Iraq.
This suggest U.S. authorities were concerned about more than Berg's
well-being. They may have had their own suspicions about what the young
American was doing in Iraq.
4) FreeRepublic website listed the Berg business as an "Enemy of the
Nick Berg's father, Michael Berg, signed an anti-war petition online
and included the business name. (Note that Nick Berg himself was
pro-Bush and pro-war.) This occurred a week before his son's second
departure to Iraq. As a result of this statement the Berg business was
put on a right wing enemies list. The FreeRepublic website listed the
Berg business as an "Enemy of the State." This may have been linked to
the thre visits by the FBI during Nick Berg's containment by the Iraqi
Police and then presumably by (or under supervision) of the US
5) Family sues in U.S. and Berg released next day in Iraq
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.
6) U.S. custody
Berg's last known whereabouts was in U.S. custody. On April 1, Beth A.
Payne, the U.S. consular officer in Iraq, sent an e-mail to the family
of Nick Berg. It stated that Ms. Payne had located Nick, and he was
currently in custody of the US military. She wrote, "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." (See: The Unanswered
Questions of Nick Berg's Murder at antiwar.com.) This is distinct from
the next point...
7) Denial of custody
The US military has stated that Berg was never in US custody and that
he had been in custody of the Iraqi police. The Iraqi police adamantly
deny he was ever in their custody. (See again: The Unanswered Questions
of Nick Berg's Murder.) If this is so, we have to conclude that either
the email from Ms. Payne was incorrect or that the US military has been
8) Apprehension of Berg
Berg was mysteriously captured while still wearing jumpsuit. Either he
escaped from U.S. captors or U.S. let him out -- with orange suit and
all -- to be immediately apprehended by "terrorists" (before he had a
chance to change). Or, the captors somehow came across a U.S. military
prison jumpsuit. (More on this is below.) This scenario contradicts the
9) Was Berg at hotel several days to April 10?
Staff at Al-Fanar Hotel in Baghdad apparently told The Associated Press
that Berg stayed there for several days until April 10. A U.S. consul
contract worker checked at the hotel on 4/14 and staff there did not
10) Family blames detainment by U.S. military for Berg's death
The last time the family heard from Nick Berg was on 9 April. He had
planned to return home at the end of March. 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
Timing of Killing and Videotape Release
11) Berg is killed before torture photos released but video tape refers
To quote "Fishy Circumstances and Flawed Timelines Surround American's
"me and a friend were discussing recent news events and trying to piece
together the information presented to us, thought you might want to
look into this further, they said in the news that Nicholas Berg was
killed 2 weeks ago (i think), however in the video the culprits who
killed him said they were "avenging iraqi prisoner abuse" but those
photos weren't released until last week, so my question is how is that
even a possible motive if he was killed prior to the abuse photos being
released?? maybe i am misinformed but thought id ask the question to
someone who would look into it."
12) Text with video mentions "shameful pictures"
The text posted to the website along with the video the translation of
the Arabic statement, cites "shameful pictures." Here is a translation
of the Arabic statement (at the Northeast Intelligence Network) made
with the video: "And the shameful pictures and the news of the evil
humiliation of the Islam people men and women in Ghareb 's father
prison then where the jealousy and where the zeal and where the anger
about the Allah's religion and where the jealousy for the Muslims
sanctities and where the revenge for the honors of Muslims and Muslims
is in the crosses prisons."
13) Wag the dog timing
There is extremely convenient 'wag the dog' timing at the height of
furor regarding U.S. torture of Iraqis.
14) Torture photo timing
CNN poll question: 'Is the Berg killing a reason for withholding any
remaining Iraq prisoner abuse pictures?' Bush has been reported to be
struggling with question of whether the Pentagon should release
additional torture photos. Given that the alleged decapitation of Berg
was allegedly prompted by the first wave of torture photos, Bush could
now cite 'national security' issues for withholding additional
Videotape of Berg, His Decapitation, and Location
15) Orange jumpsuit
Berg shown in video wearing orange jumpsuit known to be of U.S. issue.
The orange jump suit "appears" to be identical to the jumpsuits used at
Guantanamo. (Compare with pictures at Guantanamo.) The orange jumpsuit
was standard US military issue to men in custody. It is unlikely Berg
would continue wearing a U.S. custodial uniform if he had been released
by the military as they claim. The fact he was still wearing the suit
is both anomalous and suggestive. One wonders: Was there an immediate
transfer of Berg from the US military to unknown persons, preventing
Berg from discarding his US prison garb?
16) No blood at decapitation
When Berg is 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. When the executioner holds up Berg's head
immediately following what is represented as an actual decapitation of
a living person, there is no significant blood flow from the neck or
blood splatters showing anywhere on the executioner.
17) Berg did not move
Berg seems limp just before the beheading. It is not clear if he was
moving after the time skip in the tape. While on the ground, Berg's
body didn't seem move except in response to the captors movements.
Although held down, Berg would have tried to instinctively wiggle and
writhe away from captor's grip and use of a knife. (That is unless he
was long dead after the cut in the tape.) A surgeon would very likely
testify that the beheading did not cause the death.
18) Berg may have been dead just before beheading
The lack of spurting blood and lack of movement suggests Berg was
already dead at the time of the alleged decapitation. During the
beheading, Berg's eyes are not seen. Camera angle made it impossible to
see if Berg's eyes were open or glassy. Berg very probably was killed
before the staged beheading. Did the captors have no stomach for the
beheading of a living person?
19) Straight cut on the neck
The cut on Berg's neck seems to be too straight to have been done
crudely and with such speed by a man wielding a large knife. Anybody
who has carved a turkey knows there is something wrong with the
supposed beheading. The suspended head looks more like Berg had been
neatly beheaded by a guillotine.
20) Is the person in the video Berg?
Some viewers believe the person in the video only vaguely resembles
Berg. (Note: presumably the family can and will identify Berg's voice
The chair that Berg was seated in during the filming was the exact same
kind as seen in a color photo taken at the Abu Ghraib Prison. One blog
mentioned this was "a standard issue military chair." However, these
chairs might be abundant in Iraq. (See photo comparisons at link in
22) Walls and baseboard at the killing site same color as some in Abu
However, many walls may be similar in Iraq. To quote Marc Perkel (It's
The Same Chair!!!! OMFG!!):
"I have some more pics but the walls are the same yellow color and the
baseboard is the same color as Abu Ghraib prison."
More Videotape Anomalies
23) The videotape was quite blurred.
24) A quickly disappearing video source?
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.
25) Tape editing
The video tape is obviously spliced together and heavily edited: Going
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.
26) Long time jump in datestamp
There is a significant time jump on tape from a datestamp in the tape
of about 2:44:40 to about 13:45:47. There could have been two cameras
recording this event. However, there were changes in dress after the
fact that would lead to the idea of an elapsed time.
27) Scream dubbed in: Screaming starts while Berg is not moving and
before he is touched
Whatever the mismatch in the speaker and video (next point), videotape
cognoscenti have said the scream was amateurishly dubbed into the tape.
The writer of this K5 article reviewed this issue closely: The
screaming starts (at 4:31 - on the copy I viewed, not the time stamp)
about 5 to 6 seconds before Berg is touched (at 4:36) and he is moved
to his side. He is just sitting there like a lump. While the screaming
commences for (1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 seconds), his head doesn't move and
his mouth doesn't appear to move (though the tape is blurry), nor does
he seem to be physically screaming at any time. Yet the audio plays a
loud vigorous screaming. The exact same dubbed screaming continues
after the long time jump and a bit of a time gap with silence and after
some cutting on the head, during which Berg is not moving. This
screaming seems clearly dubbed and is highly incongruous with Berg's
lack of activity.
28) Handling of papers on video
"Terrorist" reader flips through pages of 'statement' at one point. He
keeps ending up on the same page for awhile. As noted below, this would
very likely produce a gap in speech, which is out of sync with the
smooth timing of the spoken statement.
29) Audio is dubbed: Tape of speaker and video are out of sync
Audio experts note the tape is clearly dubbed. The speaker recording is
different from executioner video recording, due to lag between audio
From "In the Absence of Truth from the White House, Conspiracy Theories
Emerge About the Nick Berg Murder" at buzzflash.com:
"Analysis of Execution video -- I propose that the executioner's voice
(according to my analysis of listening closely to the audio feed) is
not that of the killer's. When listening to the executioner's voice on
the tape one first notes that there is a 2-3 second lag in the "time"
between audio and video, audio leading. This is consistent with the
argument that the video camera and tape recorder are actually two
different recording devices. What convinced me that the executioner
could not be the "voice" behind the document, read prior to Nick Berg's
execution, is the lack of consistency seen between the video and audio
recordings, even if the 2-3 second delay is considered. A careful
viewing of the video shows the executioner on "several occasions"
fumbling with the 2 pages that he held, and at times reading the same
page over again -- or so it appears. At least 4 times during the video
the executioner is "turning over" pages, holding the pages "apart" as
if confused, and all of this adds up to one conclusion. There should
have been a "pause" or "2-3 second delay" in the reading of the
documents during the physical handling of the documents -- but none is
found that is long enough to account for it. Conclusion: The
executioner is not "reading" the document. Someone else is. The
executioner is trying his best to "lip sinc" the reading, but fails
miserably on close inspection. The "smooth" reading of the document is
entirely inconsistent (according my analysis of the video) and
therefore cannot be the same person that is recording into the audio
30) Berg identification - why?
Berg goes to great trouble to identify himself, providing information
about his family. Why? To elicit greater sympathy? Or to provide a
positive ID. FBI visited Berg family in an attempt to 'verify his
identity'. The guy in video looks little like Berg photos provided by
31) Woman's scream, instead of Berg?
The alleged scream on heard on the tape has been interpreted as a
woman's scream by viewers. (The scream did not seem to this K5
article's author necessarily to be in a woman's voice.)
32) Mistranslation of Al Qaeda connection
On the first day of Nick Berg's execution, it was reported on several
major news networks that al Qaeda was connected to the killer's
statement, which turned out to be false. The US Intelligence
translation still retains this "reference" to al Qaeda, which does not
exist. The U.S. government translation of one statement made on the
film is: "Does al Qaeda need any further excuses?" This is a
falsification. The actual statement urged fellow insurgents to get off
their hind ends and do something. One assumes the translator used by
the US military is a native speaker of Arabic, so this may not be an
innocent flub. Did the US government intentionally link an alleged al
Qaeda group into the murder of Nick Berg? Note: the word on tape was al
qaed, with quite a different meaning from al Qaeda.
Identity of Killers of Berg and Their Possessions
33) Western body posture and mannerisms of "terrorists"
The "terrorists" have Western-style body posture and mannerisms. They
seem to be at parade rest at times.
34) "Terrorists" were fat
Several of the men in the film were fat by Iraqi standards. If they
were Feyadeen or Mujahadeen, they probably have been living underground
since the first days of the occupation. Tens of thousands of Iraqis
have been shown on news stories as they have marched and demonstrated.
One would be hard pressed to point out a single fat man among these
35) White hands of "terrorists"
Some of the "Arab terrorists" have pasty-white hands and (other
exposed) skin. One would be hard pressed to find Arab men with
pasty-white hands. (See: Nick Berg Conspiracy Theories Abound.)
36) Wrong accent
Al-Zarqawi is/was Jordinian. Arab linguists have said the man posing as
Al-Zarqawi did not speak with a Jordanian dialect. Others have
suggested the man reading the written statement may not have been a
native speaker of Arabic.
37) Change in masks by beheader
To quote a K5 comment:
"The guy who holds up the head at the end has a white mask and no vest.
The guy who pulls out the knife and starts cutting is in a black mask.
The only guy with a white mask is wearing a green vest"
38) Voice id
Al-Zarqawi's identification by the CIA was based on "probable" voice id
of the videotape.
39) Al-Zarqawi's missing leg
Al-Zarqawi was missing one leg. Al-Zarqawi allegedly wears a prosthetic
device, according to previous CIA reports. (See: IHT Protrait of
Al-Zarqawi.) There is no evidence that the killer wore a prosthetic
device. Further, Al-Zarqawi had been outfitted with an artificial leg
that did not fit or function properly. He was unable to walk or stand
normally. No man in the group showed evidence of such infirmity.
40) Missing tattoos?
Large green tattooed "dots" are known to be on the back of Abu Musab
Zarqawi's left hand. These tattoos cannot be seen in the close up video
of the execution, though the back of his hand is fairly visible. (See:
IHT Protrait of Al-Zarqawi.)
41) Al-Zarqawi dead?
Numerous indigenous sources have said Al-Zarqawi was killed by a US
helicopter attack months ago when he was unable to move quickly enough
to escape the targeted house. While others managed to exit the house in
time to survive, he died in the collapsed building.
42) Gold ring on killer's hand
The man in the videotape who is purported to be Zarqawi seems to be
wearing a gold ring. Note: This is a questionable point. To quote
Healing Iraq (healingiraq.blogspot.com) as quoted at this
angryfinger.org post (Nick Berg Conspiracy Theories Abound): "Islam
does not specifically forbid that men wear gold, in fact the Quran and
the Hadith have encouraged men to 'adorn' and 'embellish' themselves
(dying hair, perfume, etc.) .... the practice of wearing gold ornaments
is discouraged by Muslim clerics, "Gold is the ornament of women".
Socially it is not acceptable in the Arab world for men to wear gold,
although this has changed lately and many young men do (engagement and
wedding rings are mostly gold)."
43) Why anonymous?
Al-Zarqawi's face is very well-known. If Al-Zarqawi was the
perpetrator, why did he bother to cover it the whole time? If
Al-Zarqawi is trying to build a resistance movement, why did he not
uncover his face at some point? (If it was another terrorist
impersonating Al-Zarqawi, why is the CIA identifying the voice as
44) Iraqi denial of "terrorists"
Iraqis who have seen the videotape on Arabic news broadcasts are
universally saying the men in the film are not Iraqis. Are they saying
this partly because the speaker does not employ an Iraqi dialect? Where
does their certainty come from?
45) Firearms Israeli, not AK-47s
Firearms experts have stated the AK-47 carried by one man was a
"Galil." This actually is an Israeli-made weapon that improves on the
famous AK- 47. Feyadeen and other insurgents use AK-47s.
Berg's Activities and Return of the Body
46) Berg encountered Moussaoui, an al Qaeda operative, by chance in the
U.S. in 1999
The FBI has reported (CNN, FOX) that Nick Berg's e-mail account was
used by the "20th hijacker" of 9-11, Zacarious Moussaoui, whose
computer held evidence of the 9-11 hijackers (and could not be searched
by the FBI field office because of orders from Washington). The FBI
interviewed Nick Berg about Moussaoui's use of his e-mail account to
send "emails" but concluded that it was entirely "coincidental." Berg
had apparently given the password to his e-mail account to an
acquaintance of Moussaoui who he met on a bus in 1999 in Oklahoma.
(See: Berg's encounter with 'terrorist' revealed.)
47) Berg's first visit to Iraq
Source: In the Absence of Truth from the White House, Conspiracy
Theories Emerge About the Nick Berg Murder in http://www.buzzflash.com
"In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Seattle P-I), May 13, 2004, A4,
appeared an AP article by Robert H. Reid entitled: "Questions over
beheading victim's travel in Iraq." That article, which is not online,
says: "Berg first worked in Iraq in December and January and returned
in March. He was inspecting communications facilities, some of which
were destroyed in the war or by looters. During his time in Iraq, he
worked on a tower in Abu Ghraib, site of the prison where U.S. soldiers
abused Iraqi inmates."
And from The Guardian [Questions Surround Slain American in Iraq] here
is a similar reference:
Perhaps Nick saw too much when he was at the prison repairing the
tower. And/or maybe that work required close collaboration with the
military intelligence onsite so that he learned too much.
Also, today's NY Times article entitled: "General Took Guantanamo Rules
To Iraq for Handling of Prisoners" by Tim Golden and Eric Schmitt says:
"When Major General Geoffrey D. Miller arrived in Iraq last August with
a team of military police and intelligence specialists, the group was
confronted by chaos."
"In one prison yard, a detainee was being held in a scorching hot
shipping container as punishment, one member of the team recalled. An
important communications antenna stood broken and unrepaired."
48) Work vs. no work?
It has been reported all week in the media that Nick Berg was "looking
for business" for his small telecommunications business. Some of his
friends in Iraq who were interviewed reportedly said "business was
booming." Yet others said Nick was leaving because he "couldn't find
49) Berg traveled at night
It has been reported by people who knew Nick in Iraq (interviews, major
networks) that strangely enough, Nick "traveled" at night. Indeed, when
Nick was initially picked up by Iraqi Police (checkpoint) he was held
because of "suspicious activity."
50) Berg's family was not allowed to view the body of Berg on its
arrival to the U.S.
The Unanswered Questions of Nick Berg's Murder
by Anthony Gregory, antiwar.com, May 15, 2004
In the Absence of Truth from the White House, Conspiracy Theories
Emerge About the Nick Berg Murder
buzzflash.com letters, May 14, 2004
Nick Berg's Iraq Timeline
at AngryFinger.org, May 13, 2004
Nick Berg Conspiracy Theories Abound
at AngryFinger.org, May 13, 2004
Fishy Circumstances and Flawed Timelines Surround American's Beheading
By Alex Jones, May 12, 2004
Fifteen Anomalies Surrounding Death of Nick Berg
from: What Really Happened.com Letters, May 14, 2004
It's The Same Chair!!!! OMFG!!
at Marc Perkel Rantz, May 13, 2004
(Note: The post by Perke has some good points but mixes in a number of
clearly mistaken conclusions.)
Bloggers doubt Berg execution video
By Lawrence Smallman, May 13, 2004
List of Berg videos: Wizbang! Blog: Berg video site list
Full discussion: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/5/15/22827/0477
More information about the FoRK