26 December 2006

Nick Berg's death in Iraq

Berg's body was found decapitated on May 8, 2004 on a Baghdad overpass by a U.S. military patrol. Berg's family was informed of his death on May 10. Military sources stated publicly at that time that Berg's body showed "signs of trauma", but did not disclose that he had been decapitated.

On May 11, 2004, the website of the militant Islamist group Muntada al-Ansar[5] posted a video with the opening title of "Abu Musa'b al-Zarqawi slaughters an American", which shows Berg being decapitated. Al-Zarqawi had an association with the Al-Qaida movement as does Muntada al-Ansar. The video is about five and a half minutes long.

Berg is seen in the video wearing an orange jumpsuit. He identified himself: "My name is Nick Berg, my father's name is Michael, my mother's name is Susan. I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah. I live in West Chester, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia."

The video shows Berg surrounded by five men wearing ski masks and head scarves. A lengthy statement is read aloud. The statement says that Berg's killing was in direct retaliation for the abuse of prisoners by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib prison. The masked men then converge on Berg and decapitate him with a knife. A scream can be heard as men shout "Allahu Akbar."

On May 13, news outlets quoted a CIA source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, that a voice analysis of the tape has led the agency to conclude that the masked man who reads the statement and carries out the killing is "with high probability" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Nick Berg, in orange, seated, before his decapitation by the five men standing over him.During the video, the man reading the statement threatens further deaths: "We tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls. You will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins ... slaughtered in this way." The video further threatens U.S. President George W. Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

The video bears some similarities to the videotape showing the murder and decapitation of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002. Like Pearl, Berg was Jewish, although it is uncertain whether his captors were aware of that. There are many differences noted with other decapitation videos, including the decapitation video of Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia and the video of Kim Sun-il in Iraq.

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