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Questions about Nick Berg's death

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
This CNN article is very upsetting, and raises an awful lot of questions:

Friend: Berg said he was in U.S. custody

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Slain American Nicholas Berg told a friend that he had been arrested by Iraqi police, detained briefly, and then handed over to U.S. troops who held him in a coalition facility for almost two weeks, the friend said.

Chilean freelance journalist Hugo Infante told CNN that weeks before the videotape of Berg's grisly death emerged on the Internet, "Nick told me, 'Iraqi police caught me one night, they saw my passport and my Jewish last name and my Israeli stamp. This guy thought I was a spy so they put me with American soldiers and American soldiers put me in a jail for two weeks.'"

Infante stays at the $30-a-night Al Fanar Hotel, where Berg was staying, and regularly chatted and shared drinks with him.

Infante said Berg told him that Iraqi police were suspicious of the electronics equipment he was carrying for his work on radio communications towers when he was arrested in Mosul.

Infante's comments about Berg's whereabouts during that time period echo those made by Berg's family.

Infante's statements come a day after coalition authorities in Baghdad denied they had held Berg between March 24 and April 6, saying that he was in sole custody of Iraqi police. (Full story)

Coalition spokesman Dan Senor said Berg was visited three times by FBI agents while he was in custody of Iraqi police. He said the agents concluded Berg was not involved in terrorist or criminal acts and referred other questions relating to Berg's detention to Mosul police.

The FBI confirmed its agents met with Berg, and also said the Coalition Provisional Authority offered Berg safe passage out of Iraq upon his release.

FBI agents "encouraged him to accept CPA's offer to facilitate his safe passage out of Iraq. Mr. Berg refused these offers," the FBI said in a statement.

Infante said Berg had told him he was held in a coalition facility where Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Iranians suspected of entering Iraq illegally were also detained.

Berg's father Michael said it was the family's understanding that Nicholas was in U.S. custody. The family filed a lawsuit on April 5 against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, accusing the U.S. government of holding Berg without merit.

Berg was released the next day and the lawsuit was declared moot.

"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," the father told 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."

Berg's brother David told reporters Wednesday that the family received e-mails from Berg after his release in which he made clear he had been held by U.S. forces.

Infante and another friend of Berg's, Colorado businessman Andy Duke, said they last saw Berg on the evening of April 9, at the Al Fanar Hotel three days after his release from Mosul.

Infante said he thought Berg was intending to go to Baghdad Airport the following morning and take a flight back to the United States.

The next he heard of Berg was when he heard news of his death.

"I thought he was back in the States. And I thought, my God, this is the guy. A different guy. More skinny, more pallid," Infante said.

Duke shared that shock. Another hotel guest woke Duke around midnight Tuesday.

"I looked at the Internet and there was that truly disgusting video. I couldn't look but turned away. But I heard the sounds," he said.

The beheading of Berg was shown in a video that was posted Tuesday on an Islamic Web site. (Full story)

Duke, like Berg, is a self-employed businessman. He said there were many others like him who arrived in Baghdad looking for work and were successful.

"Nick loved what he did. He was a risk-taker. He was a very robust young man, well-organized and well-prepared and this adventure was something he enjoyed and savored," he said.

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/...nds/index.html
post #2 of 24
wow.

I wonder if in that e-mail that he sent he was being told what to say...

This is getting personal and out of hand.
post #3 of 24
Utterly unbelievable Jcat...Rumsfeld and Bush and the FBI have more blood on their hands and souls. I have actually heard people express the idea that he (Berg) shouldn't have been there..the old blame he victim song. So very sad.
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
This is part of an article CNN had yesterday:

Family accuses U.S. government
Berg's brother, David, told reporters outside his family's house Wednesday that the family received e-mails from Berg after his release in which he made clear he had been held by U.S. forces.

In an interview with Boston radio station WBUR on Tuesday, Berg's father, Michael, said: "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.

"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."

The interviewer asked, "Do you really blame Donald Rumsfeld for your son's death? And will you do anything in addition to that lawsuit you had filed?"

Michael Berg responded, "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.

"Well, in my opinion 'terrorist' is just another word like 'communist' or 'witch,' and it's a witch hunt, and this whole administration is just representing something that is not America, not the America I grew up in."

Copyright 2004 CNN.

So much for our being safer because "terrorists" have no "rights" to be respected.
post #5 of 24
I hate to say this, after reading several articles about this, it seems to me at least, and that it’s not the fault of the organization that killed this man but the Bush Administration? Am I reading this right? Am I seeing the press twisting this story into another point of view of blame somewhere else besides the terrorists that killed this man? I don't see Rumsfeld with the knife/sword. But I know I may ruffle feathers with this, but it was his choice to stay, even if he was offered a flight out of Iraq (even though he could have been kidnapped on the way there? We don't know). I can also see why he was held, especially with the communications equipment that he had might have been sophisticated and could have been labeled as a spy. He's in a foreign country with no ties with the US military or the contractors out there. How are the Iraqi police supposed to react? How are the US troops supposed to react? If he was held, laws here in the states, if I was told correctly about them do not apply to US Citizens abroad. Even if he is being held by the US Military, he was thought to be a spy. I would have thought the same thing if I was out there in Iraq. But I'm not, and neither are any of us that are discussing this. I'm playing Devils advocate. We also must understand that the person that may have killed Berg is known to be a scumbag and hates the western democracy and most of all, a known associate with al Qaeda (gee, al Qaeda doesn't have sponsored or out right operations in Iraq do they?). I understand that the parents are angry with this senseless killing but I don't see the connection of him being held and him being kidnapped and later, killed. To me that doesn't make sense. Okay off my soap box. This is just MY opinion.
post #6 of 24
Another unfortunate odd timing incident. I found this to be too much of an irony and Rumsfeld grinning his ass off a bit too much the next day. I don't know who the 'killer' was because anyone can put on a ski mask and start screaming Allahu Akbar, just as I can run down the street and scream Halleluljah and people would think I'm a christian nut. His death was completely uncalled for, just as Daniel Pearls death was completely uncalled for, so to me this is a bit odd, a bit too timely to distract from the real news and a bit sick.
post #7 of 24
Just another twist to the story. Doctors have reviewed the video and claimed he was already dead when he was beheaded. Not to be gruesome about the, but this story is twisted in so many directions by the media. I hope that over time, the truth will come out of all the current sensationalism. I'll read the full story at that time.
post #8 of 24
This was a horrible thing, but I think it is a stretch to blame the US government for his death (leaving aside a philosophical broad picture.) During the Afghanistan campaign, when the reporter Daniel Perl was lured to his death by a bogus lead to a story, his family (including his quite pregnant wife) as far as I can recall didn't blame anyone but the people who killed him. (If people have forgotten him, he was an American reporter over in Pakistan, who was kidnapped, beheaded on camera, with his captors ranting abt killing Jews & Americans.) If people want to criticize them for holding him for 2 weeks as unlawful imprisonment that is one thing, but I don't think the fact that Berg was picked up/held by the Iraqi police or the military was what got him killed; going to a war zone on his own put him in danger.

I was personally more irritated when Bush described him as someone who went to Iraq to 'help the Iraqi people in their quest for democracy' or something like that. He was probably more attracted to the risk & potential money. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it isn't selfless. He was a victim of a horrible crime, not a martyr.
post #9 of 24
Wow. Just heard some new information on the nightly news. Nick Berg was questioned in connection with the 9/11 attacks after one of his email addresses was accessed by Zacarias Moussaoui. Don't know if you've seen the latest clip of the guy's father....he outright says it is Bush and Rumsfeld's fault, and "Al Qaeda is probably just as bad." (my emphasis, but it stuck out like a sore thumb to me). How do you not outright condemn the people who killed your son? Things are getting a bit suspicious to me.....

More info, with the "explaination" from Dad.... http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/Northeast...ter/index.html
post #10 of 24
Daniel Perl's wife did blame the US, she recently wanted compensation money from the September 11 funding since he was sent there to do a report in a country that supposedly was responsible for the Sept. 11 tragedy, she said that the people that supposedly murdered her husband were part of the Sept 11 terrorists, so she wanted compensation. I think she didn't get the money, can't remember.

This whole incident with Nick Berg is becoming really weird, first the reports said he was there looking for a job, now they are trying to say he was there for peace keeping efforts, which I don't understand when his own country, Israel, is in more need of 'peace keeping efforts', then now he was arrested due to having suspicious equipment. And the family is very quick to blame Bush and Rumsfeld and the US government, so it's really getting a bit odd. Very unfortunate though in the end to lose a son.
post #11 of 24
I haven't followed this story very much because it makes me physically ill. It's horrifying to think of something like that happening to anyone. I think the media needs to step out of it until it is totally investigated and they can all state one story. With all the conflicting evidence and rumors, it seems to be breeding even more discontent.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb
Wow. Just heard some new information on the nightly news. Nick Berg was questioned in connection with the 9/11 attacks after one of his email addresses was accessed by Zacarias Moussaoui. Don't know if you've seen the latest clip of the guy's father....he outright says it is Bush and Rumsfeld's fault, and "Al Qaeda is probably just as bad." (my emphasis, but it stuck out like a sore thumb to me). How do you not outright condemn the people who killed your son? Things are getting a bit suspicious to me.....

More info, with the "explaination" from Dad.... http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/Northeast...ter/index.html
I know someone (friend of a friend) who was on a trip in India years ago. She & her girlfriend were befriended by a charming local at one point, who gave them the hometown tour, so to speak. She gave him her biz card (she was a junior attorney at a firm in NY.). A few months later, the FBI showed up at her office. The guy was wanted in India on terrorism charges (I think as part of the periodic India-Pakistan dust-ups) and had been nabbed. They found her business card in his wallet. It's bizarre, but it can happen.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb
Wow. Just heard some new information on the nightly news. Nick Berg was questioned in connection with the 9/11 attacks after one of his email addresses was accessed by Zacarias Moussaoui. Don't know if you've seen the latest clip of the guy's father....he outright says it is Bush and Rumsfeld's fault, and "Al Qaeda is probably just as bad." (my emphasis, but it stuck out like a sore thumb to me). How do you not outright condemn the people who killed your son? Things are getting a bit suspicious to me.....

More info, with the "explaination" from Dad.... http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/Northeast...ter/index.html
The truth will come out - we shall have to wait and see. But yes, it is all suspicious.
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Another CNN story: http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/...erg/index.html
This story gets stranger by the day. One thing I find rather stupid, but maybe it's just me. A lot of people who visit Israel, and later plan on going to an Arab nation, apply for a new passport so that the Israeli visa stamp doesn't raise "suspicions". The explanation that there are U.S. MPs at facilities used by the Iraqi police makes sense, as does Berg's being questioned by the FBI again because of the Moussaoui link. However, two weeks' detention seems a bit extreme. If he already had a flight booked, couldn't the U.S. authorities have had him escorted to the plane and picked up at the other end for further questioning, if necessary?
post #15 of 24
Well, if he was suspected of being some type of operative, what better way to get back into the U.S. than being a citizen?

I just for the life of me don't understand why someone would willfully choose to go into as unstable a warzone as Iraq. If his parents want to place blame on someone, how about these idiotic US soldiers who found it necessary to humiliate Iraqi prisoners and take photos to boot? Berg's death was, to me, clearly a retaliatory action. I know it's the wrong thread, but I am ashamed that any American would stoop to the level of terrorists.
post #16 of 24
Quote:
From the article
Berg's father Michael said it was the family's understanding that Nicholas was in U.S. custody. The family filed a lawsuit on April 5 against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, accusing the U.S. government of holding Berg without merit.
It seems to me that Nicholas Berg was confused and only THOUGHT he was in U.S. custody, when in reality he was actually in custody of the Iraqi's.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb25
Well, if he was suspected of being some type of operative, what better way to get back into the U.S. than being a citizen?

I just for the life of me don't understand why someone would willfully choose to go into as unstable a warzone as Iraq. If his parents want to place blame on someone, how about these idiotic US soldiers who found it necessary to humiliate Iraqi prisoners and take photos to boot? Berg's death was, to me, clearly a retaliatory action. I know it's the wrong thread, but I am ashamed that any American would stoop to the level of terrorists.
From what I was told by someone at work, people choose to go to dangerous countries because they get paid a lot of money, just for that reason alone .. it's dangerous.
post #18 of 24
Because I am the sort I am I wanted to see the whole video I wanted to make some sort of sense out of all the conflicting reports I was reading , and I felt like I couldn't do that unless I saw all the available info.

I found the entire video , and I watched it , Ive come to a conclusion a personal conclusion , if we don't get out now we will face the same sort of war and conflict that has dogged Israel for the past 50 years.

We will sink deeper and deeper until no one remembers why we are doing any of this and criminal acts are committed on both sides.

we need to go home , work for peace through diplomacy and mind our own business
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
There's more information on what Berg was doing in Iraq in this NY Times article:
[AD]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 15, 2004
A Family Tries to Remember a Son Killed in Iraq and His Style
By RICHARD LEZIN JONES


EST GOSHEN, Pa., May 14 - It is a tranquil counterpoint to the grisly images of the beheading of Nicholas E. Berg: The snapshot of a bespectacled Mr. Berg, wearing a shy smile and a sleeveless T-shirt, released shortly after his killing, has become an icon of his family's grief.

On Friday, Mr. Berg's father, Michael, joined hundreds of others at a synagogue here outside Philadelphia at a private memorial service in honor of his son. While others in attendance wore suits and blazers, Michael Berg offered his own simple, silent tribute to youngest child, opting not for a jacket and tie, but donning instead a green t-shirt nearly identical to the one worn by his son in that suddenly famous photograph. The family had affixed it to their mailbox in the days after his death.

"I think he really wanted people to see that this kid wasn't into being flashy," said Bruce Hauser, a spokesman for the Berg family said of the gesture by Michael Berg. "He had his mind into doing what he wanted to do."

And here in West Goshen and elsewhere, friends and acquaintances of Nicholas Berg paused to remember a life that they said was as focused as it was selfless.

About 400 people gathered at the Kesher Israel Congregation here for a 90-minute service in honor of Nicholas Berg that those in attendance said included moments both humorous and poignant.

"I'd look over at my wife," Mr. Hauser said. "And one minute she'd be laughing and the next minute, she'd be crying. That was true for everyone."

Those emotions were not just confined to West Goshen. In Manhattan, the offices of the American Jewish World Service were also stricken with grief. Nicholas Berg had applied to work as a volunteer with the group and was scheduled to begin working on a water access project with a group from the Maasai tribes in Kenya.

"He was an unbelievable person - highly skilled, highly humanitarian," said Ruth W. Messinger, the former Manhattan borough president who is president of the service. She said that Mr. Berg's great technical expertise, which included his work with radio transmission towers as part of a business that family members said he hoped to promote in his trip to Iraq, was matched by his altruism.

Ms. Messinger, who opened her home to Mr. Berg and other volunteers for a gathering last summer, said that much of Mr. Berg's work with the service stemmed from a desire to get closer to his Jewish heritage, particularly the Hebrew concept of "Tikkun Olam" or helping to heal or repair the world.

"This was something he firmly believed in," she said.

The Kenya project was to be an extension of that belief, she said. And there, the grief over Mr. Berg's death was felt as well. Ms. Messinger said that a group of Maasai, unsure about how to contact Mr. Berg's family, sent the service an e-mail message expressing their condolences.

"From the remotest part of the world, Nick's friends send their prayers and well wishes," wrote the message's author, Meitamei Ole Dapash of the Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition, who, calling Mr. Berg "my brother" went on to described an earlier visit the former engineering student had made to Africa. "Nick made friends with the entire community in the area, and was even able to learn and speak some Maasai within a week," the message read.

The message concluded: "His life has been cut short too soon but we pray that his legacy will live forever: we can learn many good things from Nick's short life in this world."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company | Home | Privacy Policy | Search | Corrections | Help | Back to Top
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
More background, this time from TIME's web site:
The Sad Tale of Nick Berg

He went to Baghdad looking for business. How did he end up in the hands of Iraq's top terrorist?

By JULIE RAWE

Posted Sunday, May 16, 2004
In a country where foreign businessmen are reluctant to travel even in armor-clad suvs with security guards, Nick Berg crisscrossed Iraq by hailing cabs and hopping onto buses. Usually clad in a baseball cap and jeans, he made no effort to blend in with the locals as he lugged around sophisticated electronic equipment in search of work. His Arabic was awful, and he had a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In January, during his first prospecting trip to Iraq, Berg was picked up during a police sweep in the southern town of Diwaniya, where "there are supposedly a good deal of Iranian spies who wander over and sneak about," he told friends in an e-mail, adding, "Isn't this starting to read like a mystery novel ...?"

There are many haunting questions about Berg and his odyssey in Iraq, which came to a tragic close last week when his body was found and a video of his horrific execution was circulated on the Internet. Why was this communications-tower repairman imprisoned for 13 days this spring in the city of Mosul—and who had custody of him there? After his release, why did he refuse offers of help to get home? And perhaps the biggest mystery of all: How did a former Boy Scout, who had spent time doing humanitarian work in Africa, stumble into the path of one alleged al-Qaeda terrorist in Oklahoma only to end up kidnapped and beheaded by another in Iraq?

Berg, who was 26 when he died, was one of a small number of free-lancers in Baghdad hoping to make a buck and, his family recalled, do some good. A "tower guy," he figured he could earn as much as $20,000 a month repairing antennas in Iraq, a job that sometimes involved climbing hundreds of feet of latticework in 120¡ heat, according to business consultant and fellow free-lancer Andy Duke, who says he drank some beers with Berg the night before he disappeared.

Berg embarked on his first trip to Baghdad in December. Friends say he assumed he could find work the same way he had launched his tower-repair shop in a Philadelphia suburb: by cold-calling potential clients and sweet-talking his way into assignments. He came home in February to West Chester, Pa., with some promising leads as well as rich tales of his adventures in the war-scarred land. "He had a comfort level in Iraq that is beyond our comprehension," says colleague Dave Skalish, a technical supervisor at a Philadelphia radio station.

Berg's innocence got him into trouble. He apparently didn't know to avoid getting an Israeli stamp in his passport when he traveled to Israel en route to Baghdad. By the time he was picked up by Iraqi police at a Mosul checkpoint in March, rumors circulated among his associates that Berg, who was Jewish, was working for a telecom firm with ties to Israel, according to a security contractor in Iraq.

During his detention in an Iraqi prison, Berg was interviewed three times by the FBI, which sent agents to question his family in Pennsylvania. It wasn't his first encounter with the bureau, which had investigated a possible link between him and Zacarias Moussaoui, the al-Qaeda follower awaiting trial for suspected ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers. In 1999, during the semester Berg spent at the University of Oklahoma, he let an acquaintance access his e-mail account. Berg's user name and password subsequently got passed around and was used by an associate of Moussaoui's, who in 2001 enrolled in the nearby Norman flight school. But when the FBI interviewed Berg in 2002, agents determined that he had no connection to Moussaoui's associate. "It turned out to be a total coincidence," says a Justice Department official. When notified that Berg had been picked up in Mosul, the FBI might have wondered if its original assessment was wrong. After conducting a "thorough review of records," the agents decided once again that he was harmless—and possibly in danger.

Berg wasn't released until April 6, a day after his parents filed a federal lawsuit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, claiming that their son had been transferred to U.S. military custody and was being detained without probable cause. Berg's father Michael, a staunch antiwar activist, now blames the Administration for his son's death while the U.S. military continues to deny it ever had custody of Berg. After he was released, the U.S. consulate offered to arrange for him to fly out of Baghdad, but he refused. Instead, he told friends and family that he planned to drive to Kuwait or Turkey. On April 10, he checked out of Baghdad's Al-Fanar Tower Hotel, suitcase in hand, and disappeared. U.S. soldiers found his decapitated body a month later.

Last week a video was posted on an Islamic militant website, and the world learned what had happened to him. After reading a statement about avenging the suffering of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, one of Berg's masked captors took a long knife from his shirt, grabbed a screaming Berg by the hair and cut off his head. CIA officials say there is a "high probability" that the knife was wielded by Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian associate of Osama bin Laden's believed to be the kingpin behind the recent attacks in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi was nearly captured there last year, says a U.S. official. But the terrorist may have picked a particularly inappropriate victim, a young man who, according to his father, was a do-gooder trying to help the Iraqi people. Says the elder Berg: "They killed their best friend."

—With reporting by Timothy J. Burger and Elaine Shannon/Washington, Adam Pitluk/ West Chester and Vivienne Walt/Baghdad

http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101040524/wberg.html
The link probably won't work if you don't have a subscription.
post #21 of 24
Found this to be interesting and sorta what I've been wondering. Considering that any Al-Qaeda member as dangerous as the american government says and suspects masterminded the 'death' of Nick Berg, first of all, they wouldn't bother putting a kidnapped person in some other attire, especially an orange prison garb, secondly, the main guy holding the piece of paper does not speak good arabic (al qaeda members speak fluent arabic and would not need a piece of paper), thirdly, as crazy as they are, they would not wear ridiculous outfits and cover their face, they have strong maniacal faith in what they do and are crazy and would not be afraid to show their faces nor would they wear such outfits, they would have worn their regular outfits of thobes, etc which is typical of Afghani people's attire. Nick Berg seems way too calm in the video for someone that is 'captured' by a serious dangerous Al-Qaeda member. His death is unfortunate and very odd because the truth is yet to be really found...


http://marc.perkel.com/archives/000233.html
http://www.aztlan.net/berg_abu_ghraib_video.htm
post #22 of 24
okay, I saw the video. ugh. whether it was set up or not, a man still died I find the difference in the time on the video to be odd.
post #23 of 24
Actually, Berg had been released and when the US tried to find him he had disappeared.

Have any of you actually seen the video? It's a very good example of what Hussein's people have been doing to everyone for a long time. It's not a simple be-heading, I'll leave it at that. If you have any qualms about gore, don't watch it. I don't mind gore at all and it still causes nightmares for me a week later.

My family used to have connections to Iraq, but the entire family we knew was slaughtered after Hussain came to power because they'd been educated in the US.
post #24 of 24
Oh, and my biggest beef is if the men are so proud about what they are doing why are they hiding their faces? I really believe it's time for these terrorists, etc., to show who they are and stop hiding.

And that orange coverall isn't just used for prison garb, it's also used for public service employees throughout the planet.
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