Nicholas Berg

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Nicholas Berg, 26, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, is a jewish American construction contractor and a developer of the Bovl Block method of tower construction.

Biographical Information

High School

While attending Henderson high school, police handcuffed and detained Nicholas Berg and some of his friends, on the suspicion that a device identified by Berg as a "truth detector" was used to illicitly open remotely-controlled garage doors.[1]

NickBerg.org makes the claim that this device was a "duck taped box with circuits and red l.e.d.s that came up with random lights whenever you pressed the two extended wires to your skin". The "truth detector" itself is said to have been "A later model of the Random Number Generator... Berg was more interested in a Truth Detector than a lie detector. The device measured resistance in the skin and (obviously!) came up with different numbers based on how truthful one was! Did it really work? Well, before I answer that, let me get my Truth Detector..."[2]

NickBerg.org[3] also identifies another device attributed to Berg, called an "invert alert". According to NickBerg.org: "The invert alert was a neat little device that Nick created for his grandma to wear around her neck. It used a motion sensing and position sensing switch together to sense a "fall" which would involve acceleration and quick arrest combined with a position change. This then broadcasted a signal to make the home's doorbell sound -- the doorbell was positioned next to where his grandfather sat, thereby alerting him to the fall, or that someone was standing at the door constantly pressing the doorbell. -Thomas Clardy" Although:

"There were other versions of Invert Alert. Nick had one that scrambled all transmission signals in a localized area. ... Berg did demonstrate his device during a stage production at Henderson High School. The sound techs used walkie talkies to communicate to the stage manager. Imagine the confusion when every headpiece is filled with static! Quickly he gave a humorously repentant look and turned off his device."[4] Fans of spy novels immediately recognize this device as a "bollix" or "jammer".

University

From the fall of 1996 to the fall of 1998, Nicholas Berg attended Cornell University, where he "spent the Spring 1998 semester in Uganda through Cornell's Study Abroad Program. He took a voluntary leave of absence from the university after completing the Fall 1998 semester".[5]

In Uganda Berg worked with a block press left all of his belongings when he returned.[6]

Nicholas Berg Nick Berg attended the University of Oklahoma during 1999-2000 where he was an employee of the athletic department at the Lloyd Noble Center[7] and "worked toward developing a 'paper brick,' said William McManus, associate professor of construction science."[8]

In 2003, Berg attended a "technical conference" at the Hill Air Force Base in Layton, Utah.[9]

The company Berg has been associated with, Prometheus Methods Tower Services, Inc., has been identified by Free Republic as an "enemy of the state", identifying "Michael S. Berg, Teacher, Prometheus Methods Tower Service, Inc., West Chester, PA" as a known "enemy".[10] Berg also "set up a subsidiary of his company, Prometheus Methods Tower Service Inc., in Kenya".[11]

The Oklahoma arrests

While matriculating at the University of Oklahoma, Berg was apparently homeless, and had more minor brushes with the law:

"Berg would sometimes sleep in Lloyd Noble Center, and he had been caught sleeping in Oklahoma Memorial Union by the OU Department of Public Safety, Akins said. Berg was listed for trespassing in the union on April 12, 2000, according to police reports in the April 13, 2000, edition of The Oklahoma Daily." [12] The Oklahoma Memorial Union is a division of Student Affairs at the University of Oklahoma. [13]

In fact, Berg was arrested on two separate occasions. Here is a scan of his record from the Norman City court. The record was obtained by Michael P. Wright, a resident of Norman city. From Wright's blog [14]:

"First, observe that there were two arrests for trespassing, and two columns with dates. On the left are the dates for the arrests, and on the right are the dates of consequent court actions. For the arrest of 5/28/00, we see the symbol BF, meaning that Berg forfeited bond in the amount of $162. He did not make a court appearance. The bond forfeiture amounted to a guilty plea, and a conviction went on the record."

"Earlier, he had been arrested on 4/11/00. After this we see the symbol DISM CO, which means dismissal complied. We also see the date of 11/21/00 for the court action. The clerk explained this. It meant that on 5/21/00, six months earlier, Berg appeared in court and received a deferred sentence. He was told that the complaint would be dismissed six months later if he committed no other offenses within that time interval. As the record demonstrates, it was dismissed."

"The paradox in this record is that he violated the terms of this deferred sentence by being arrested seven days later but enjoyed obtaining a dismissal in November in spite of this. The clerk stated that this was done at the city attorney's discretion."

Extended Family

Berg has at least one relative in Iraq, "in the Mosul area, according to emails to his family".[15] One email identifies this relative as Moffak Mustaffa Yasin, whom Berg says is "Mudafer's (my paternal uncle) brother".[16]

Nicholas Berg's disappearance in Iraq

Straziuso reported May 13, 2004, that Beth A. Payne, a "U.S. diplomatic official in Iraq told the [Berg] family .... that [Nick] was being detained by the U.S. military when they lost contact with him for several days in early April, according to e-mails provided by the family Thursday."[17]

The Berg family showed the Associated Press an April 1 e-mail from Payne in which 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,' the e-mail said. ... In two e-mails later that day, Payne wrote that she was still trying to find a local contact for the family."

As early as May 7, 2004, Nicholas Berg's family was relaying the story of Nicholas' detention by Iraqi police and the U.S. military and his subsequent release on April 6, 2004, after the Berg family filed a law suit on April 5, 2004.

"U.S. government officials have said Berg, who was found dead last weekend in Baghdad, was detained by Iraqi police and was never in the custody of American forces." No positive identification of the body has been reported in the media.[18]

"Berg's brother, David Berg, called on the government to come clean about its contacts with the slain American before he died. The family has blamed the government for keeping him in custody for too long while anti-American violence escalated in Iraq." [19]

The AFP announced on May 18, 2004, "Four arrested over beheading of US businessman in Iraq."[20]

"Asked if more than one person had been arrested in connection with the killing, the source told AFP: 'Yes, four people. ... We have made good progress,' the source added, referring to the investigation, but declined to give any details on the identity of the four people held in detention. ... none of the four included Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."

The Associated Press reported on May 21, 2004, that two of the four had been released, with the remaining two being held for more questioning. [21]

Beheading Video Released

A video which appears to show the beheading of Nicholas Berg by unidentified masked men was posted May 11, 2004, on the internet. According to the Associated Press's Jason Straziuso on May 12, 2004, the said "execution was carried out by an al-Qaida affiliated group to avenge the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers." [22]

The video "was signed off with [Abu Musab al-]Zarqawi's name and dated May 11" and according to an early Reuters story "it was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the tape carried on Muntada al-Ansar Islamist Web site".[23]

Regarding the video and its origin, independent research has shown: "The location of the web server is reportedly in Malaysia. However, the addresses of the publishers for these sites are located in London, England and Nurnberg, Denmark. ... The location of the publishers for al-ansar.net appears to be at an Arab Press Building, which appears to be shared by different Arab news publications. The name of the organization is the Arab Press House. The building is apparently the headquarters for news magazines such as, Al Jamilla, Sayidaty, and Al Majallah among others."[24]

Timeline (as of May 12, 2004)

  • Berg in Baghdad from late December 2003 to February 1, 2004, and returned to Iraq in March. "He didn't find any work and planned again to return home on March 30, but his daily communications home stopped on March 24. He later told his parents he was jailed by Iraqi officials at a checkpoint in Mosul." [25]
  • Michael Berg says Nick was "'arrested and held without due process' [and] By the time he got out, the whole area was inflamed with violence.'" [26]
  • March 31, 2004, the FBI interviewed Berg's parents ... Jerri Williams, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia FBI office, told The Philadelphia Inquirer the agency had been 'asked to interview the parents regarding Mr. Berg's purpose in Iraq.'" [27]
  • April 5, 2004, Berg family files lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia, "contending that their son was being held illegally by the U.S. military. The next day Berg was released. He told his parents he hadn't been mistreated." [28]
  • April 6, 2004, Nick "described the 13 days that he spent in the Shirdta Iraqiyah station near Mosul, an Iraqi detention center where, he said, the United States Military Police supervised and trained the Iraqi officers." [29]
  • April 9, 2004, last contact from Nicholas Berg. [30]

Analysis

The Video

Synopsis from CNN

"In the video, Berg is shown sitting in an orange jumpsuit in front of five armed, hooded men.
"A man standing directly behind Berg reads a statement and then Berg is pushed to the floor.
"Berg is heard screaming as his throat is cut. One of the captors then holds up his severed head.
"The Web site said the killing had been carried out by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of an Islamist terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq."

Video Date & Time

BlueRidge at MSNBC Interactive dissects the timeline for taping of Nick Berg's execution. [31]

  • Drudge Report report and the Aljazeera report both state "A body found on Monday by US military patrol along a roadside over the weekend was identified as Berg's." [Note: Druge Report web site shows extremely graphic close-up stills.]
  • First of all, as BlueRidge points out, the news report is self-conflicting, since over the weekend and Monday obviously cannot be the same day:
"Was it found on Monday or over the weekend--which one? Does this make sense to anyone? Or was someone scrambling a press release (in panic) of wording that was hastily contrived, and uncertain themselves about how the facts would compare to the report. Vague timing begs the questsion, when was this body really found?," he writes.
  • BlueRidge says that here is the "smoking gun":
  • "If the body was found on Monday (May 10th), or previously 'over the weekend' (prior), how could the execution and video be taped on May 11th, as is reported?," he asks.
  • "The statement in the video was signed off with Zarqawi's name and dated 11 May," he reports (according to Drudge and Aljazeerah).
  • "An Arab magic trick indeed...to be able to execute a man on video tape (May 11), AFTER his body is found by U.S. forces, on May 10th!"
  • Also, BlueRidge writes: "The video was dated May 11th, typical Judeo-Masonic (CIA/MOSSAD) signature and M.O., like 9/11, and the recent 3/11 in Spain. Sorry, there is an M.O. to this 'terrorism' that matches that of government psyops! Funny how they never mention the obvious pattern of dating isn't it? And the 'terrorists' signed his name [Zarqawi] to the video, though they wore hoods and masks! (Why?)"
  • "According to the video clock notations in the film, the 'execution' took place between 13:46 and 13:47....apparently around 1:46 to 1:47 pm. Why is the video time not in Arabic? Do Arabs use military time?," he asks. See Drudge Report stills.

Spliced Montage

"Tape obviously spliced together and heavily edited. Goes 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. ... Audio clearly dubbed in." [32]
  • Leo Caesius, Video Analysis, Inner Harran, May 12, 2004. Deeply disturbing stills included.
"The Berg video is a montage of two separate videos taken from two cameras. This is apparent from the time stamps in the lower right-hand corner, which change as the angle of the shot changes. Additionally, the audio must have been redubbed after the film was shot; it is 7 seconds out of sync with the video (the screaming begins at 4 minutes and 30 seconds, but Berg remains sitting complacently until 4 minutes and 37 seconds). Thus, it seems possible and even likely that the audio portions were added at a later time."

Audio Dubbed

  • "... unlikely timing of the executioner's dubbed announcement that Berg was to die for 'Iraqi prisoner abuse'." [33]
  • "Alleged 'scream' from Berg sounded to be that of a woman and was clearly dubbed in." [34]

Internet Source of Video Tape

Malaysian-based internet company Acme Commerce Sdn Bhd "that hosted the website that first posted" the video "shut it down on Thursday because it was drawing too much traffic [and because it] was not aware that the site, www.al-ansar.biz, may have been connected to al-Qaeda or that offensive material had been posted on it."
The site's operator is "a client" who rented the space from Acme Commerce. Alfred Lim, Acme's business manager, said "he was not sure exactly when the client began renting the space" and "declined to identify the client who ran the website, saying the company - which claims to host 5,000 sites for clients in more than 30 countries - wanted to consult its legal advisers on whether to make any further disclosures to the media. ... The company had not contacted police so far about the site, and it was unclear what action Malaysian authorities might take."
  • Note that this terrorist web site is not the only one which Acme Commerce "hosts".
  • It is reported that prior to the site being "shut down, Aljazeera.net had looked at the site within ninety minutes of the story breaking--and could find no such video footage." [36]
  • "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." [37]

Timing of Tape's Release

  • BlueRidge at MSNBC Interactive suggests that there is something a bit off about the following:
  • The miraculous timing of the execution and the nearly simultaneous full-blown news coverage of the execution on the same evening of May 11, 2001, as well as the story having first been reported to Congress at some point during working hours during a session, and precisely at the same time as "the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, etc., were being grilled, and Senators" were investigating "the horrific prisoner abuse" at Abu Ghraib, "and who was behind it."
  • BlueRidge marvels at the "well-coordinated and expedited 1) execution 2) body found, identified 3) notification of kin 4) reported to Congress and 5) release in full detail with video to network news ... ALL IN ONE AMAZING DAY!"
  • "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." [38]
  • ".... extremely convenient 'wag the dog' timing at the height of furor regarding U.S. torture of Iraqis." [39]

The Captors

  • "Note the white hands wielding the knife. ... Three green dots are tattooed on the back of his (Zarqawi's) left hand, documents show, but their significance is unknown." [42]
"Throughout the whole beheading the man that is cutting Berg's throat has a black hood on and the one holding him down has the white hood on. Yet, right when the man completely severes the head, he grabs his hair and raises it in front of the camera and he has the knife in his right hand. The funny thing is, he's wearing a white hood now. What happened to his black hood?"
  • "Note the military stance of the hooded captors in the video...it's Parade Rest." [43]
  • "Note the body language... the beefy size of the captors... not middle-eastern. Who are the guys in the video?" [44]
  • "Now, the accent is not Jordanian so that takes the Jordanian element out of the story immediately." [45]
  • Fintan Dunne, "Update 1. Western Voice Heard On Nick Berg Videotape," Break for News, May 13, 2004: "The sound can be heard in all copies of the tape which BreakFornews.com has examined. ...the relevant section of the tape" has been amplified. Requires mp3.
  • "Audio clearly dubbed in. ... 'Arab' reader flips through pages of 'statement' and keeps ending up on the same page. Perhaps doesn't even known enough Arabic to recognize what page he's on?" [46]
  • Katherine Pfleger Shrader, "CIA Says Al-Zarqawi Beheaded Berg in Iraq," AP, May 13, 2004: "... based on an analysis of the voice on the video, a CIA official said Thursday."
  • "CIA : Berg killed by al-Zarqawi," AP, May 13, 2004: "Beyond the CIA opinion, there has been no way to determine conclusively who was in the tape. CNN reported earlier that it's linguistic analysts doubted whether the man on the tape was al-Zarqawi because of his accent."
  • "The voice on the tape could not be verified as that of al-Zarqawi. CNN staff members familiar with al-Zarqawi's voice said the voice on the tape did not sound like him." [47]
  • Octavia Nasr, CNN Sr. Editor for Arab Affairs, Liberty Forum, May 13, 2004: From CNN transcript: "... you see no reference to al Qaeda. And yet the official U.S. government translation does. Explain how that happened. ... NASR: Oh, I find it very interesting, because out of the blue, there is a mention of al Qaeda on the U.S. government translation. It says: 'Does al Qaeda need any further excuses?' Any speaker of the Arabic language is going to notice a difference between the word al Qaeda, which means 'the base,' and al qaed, which means 'the one sitting, doing nothing.'"

The Victim

Orange Jumpsuit

  • "The Guantanamo Bay type US issue prison suit is very suspicious! Either [Berg] was handed over to the alleged 'terrorists' in it--meaning US forces complicity to rid them of an American 'dissident'--or the executions are Government--i.e. CIA (well-fed, lily white hands, hooded...but leaving the name of the executioner?)!" [48]
  • "Berg mysteriously captured by Al-Quaeda (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 Al-Quaeda (before he had a chance to change)." [49]

Body is Motionless

  • "The body is completely motionless even as the knife is brought to bear--not so much as an instinctive wriggle." [50]
  • "Camera angle made it impossible to see if Berg's eyes were even open. ... Berg's body didn't move while on the ground. Although held down, Berg would have tried to instinctively wiggle and writhe away from captor's grip." [51]
  • "Berg beheading: No way, say medical experts," according to Asia Times, May 22, 2004.

Bleeding

  • "More graphically, some claim that cutting the throat's artery would cause a significant amount of blood. But little emerges and when the head was raised--not a drop of blood is seen to fall." [52]
  • "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." [53]
  • "Nick Berg decapitation video declared 'a fraud' by medical doctor," godlikeproductions, May 13, 2004: "Not only were the purported screams of Nick Berg not in synchrony with the decapitation but their was also a total lack of blood spurting out as his jugular and other veins and arteries were being cut."
  • "In a possible explanation, one discussion room member suggested that Berg was killed and then beheaded later." [54]

Nick's Earlier Whereabouts

  • "Berg's peculiar circumstances in the weeks before his death. Why would a private Jewish American citizen choose to wander around Iraq by himself?" [55]
  • In "his last email on 6 April to his family [Berg] stated he wished to return home as soon as possible--yet the FBI claim he refused an offer of help to get home." [56]
  • Jason Straziuso, "Berg's E-Mails Depict Dangerous Travels," AP, May 12, 2004.
  • Excerpts from Berg's emails, AP, May 12, 2004.

Connection with Member of Iraqi-American Council

  • William Bunch, "Berg Met with Shady Iraqi," Philadelphia Daily News, May 17, 2004: "Berg teamed up in Baghdad with an ex-Philadelphia man who led a controversial group of Iraqi expatriates encouraged by the U.S. government - even as he faced deportation for his role in Russian-emigre crime ring selling millions of vials used for crack. ... Aziz Kadoory Aziz, also known as Aziz Al-Taee, hooked up earlier this year with the 26-year-old West Chester man to start a small company called Shirikat Abraj Babil, or Babylon Towers Co., that would install, inspect and repair telecommunications and utility towers."

Nick Berg a Spy? a Terrorist?

Nick Berg in Iraqi Custody?

  • "FBI told police to hold Berg," SA, May 13, 2004: Bridadier General Carter Ham, "who heads the Olympia Task Force," told journalists on Monday, that Berg was "held for two weeks in Iraq at the FBI's request for travelling without documents while his identity was checked ... 'Berg was in Mosul. He was travelling alone. The Iraqi police found him without any documentation. Iraqi police was suspicious and took him into custody' ... [the] 'FBI asked (police) to keep him until they knew who he was,' Ham told journalists."
  • "Iraqi police deny holding Berg," SA, May 13, 2004: "Iraqi police never detained" Berg "the police chief said Thursday, despite US insistence that Nicholas Berg was held by local authorities here shortly before he disappeared last month."
  • "Mosul Police Chief Denies Detaining Slain American Nicholas Berg," AP, May 13, 2004.

Nick Berg in U.S. Custody?

Emails from Iraq Consulate to Berg Family

Conspiracy Theories & "Story" Inconsistencies

SourceWatch Resources

Also see Nicholas Berg (External Links).