Not remotely surprising or even particularly shocking.
A video posted Tuesday on an Islamic militant Web site showed the beheading of an American civilian in Iraq, and said the execution was carried out by an al-Qaida affiliated group to avenge the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers. The video bore the title "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi shown slaughtering an American." It was unclear whether al-Zarqawi -- an associate of Osama bin Laden -- was shown in the video, or was claiming responsibility for ordering the execution. Al-Zarqawi also is said to have ties to terrorist groups ranging from Ansar al Islam in Iraq to Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He's believed to be behind many attacks in Iraq, including numerous high-profile operations.
The video pictures of the execution showed five men wearing headscarves and black ski masks, standing over a bound man in an orange jumpsuit -- similar to a prisoner's uniform -- who identified himself as Nick Berg, a U.S. civilian whose body was found on a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday. "My name is Nick Berg, my father's name is Michael, my mother's name is Suzanne," the man said on the video. "I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah. I live in ... Philadelphia."
There was no way to be certain the tape was authentic.
After reading a statement, the men were seen pulling the man to his side and putting a large knife to his neck. A scream sounded as the men cut his head off, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" -- "God is great." They then held the head out before the camera.
Berg's family said Tuesday they knew their son had been decapitated, but didn't know the details of the killing. When told of the video by an Associated Press reporter, Berg's father, Michael, and his two siblings hugged and cried. "I knew he was decapitated before. That manner is preferable to a long and torturous death. But I didn't want it to become public," Michael Berg said.
I do feel sorry for the man's family; before they've even had a chance to absorb his death, or its manner, they have to deal with the inquiries and the publicity.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family," said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, traveling with President Bush in Arkansas. "It shows the true nature of the enemies of freedom. They have no regard for the lives of innocent men, women and children. We will pursue those who are responsible and bring them to justice."
I'm ... stunned, frankly. I find it truly amazing that, in a week in which it's alleged that our soldiers deliberately tortured and humiliated Iraqi men, raped at least one Iraqi woman, and allowed their children to be assaulted -- he dared talk about the militants' lack of regard for "the lives of innocent men, women and children".
Because Berg was a U.S. citizen, the FBI has jurisdiction to investigate the case as a criminal matter. A senior law enforcement official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the FBI would probably get involved so long as adequate security is provided by the military for investigators to do their work.
I ... see.
One wonders if the administration has the slightest idea how all this appears to the world at large. After all, the FBI and CIA also have jurisdiction to investigate the abuses perpetrated by the military contractors, including the deaths of at least 14 Iraqis and Afghans in US custody as well as everything else, yet there's been no word, no sign by the administration that they are going to allow such an investigation to take place. But kill one American civilian contractor, and by gum! call out the FBI! Investigate away!
It's truly amazing how utterly, desperately clueless this administration is about how perception affects their reality. Their reality, in this case, is that they need the cooperation of friendly Arab (and other) countries to get this alleged "war on terror" to run well. Their reality is that Arabs are now understanding that they are nothing, and less than nothing, to this administration -- whether or not that is true has nothing to do with their perception that it is true. An apology for the abuses was all but dragged out of Bush -- and then aimed at Jordan, for some terribly odd reason; despite the perception that Rumsfeld is ultimately responsible for all this -- despite the fact that Rumsfeld is known to have signed off on tortuous methods used at Guantanamo, at the least -- Bush tells him publicly that he's doing a wonderful job, that he's the best secretary of defense ever.
You just wonder if this administration will ever -- ever -- learn to think about what it does and what it says.Posted by iain at May 11, 2004 03:10 PM