man in Kabul
Torturing Afghanis with Fox News celebrity mercenary
On 8 July, three Americans were arrested at a clandestine private prison
in Kabul. There, the Afghan police found eight Afghanis in various stages
of interrogation. Four of them were hanging by their heels
from the ceiling.
The leader of the group was former Green Beret sergeant
Jonathan Keith Jack Idema, a US bounty hunter and mercenary
popularised by Fox News and right-wing publisher Random House. The other
two turned out to be Edward Caraballo, a TV producer working on a documentary
by Idema, about Idema, and Brent Bennett, a former US soldier who was
apparently assisting Caraballo.
Of all the misfits, sociopaths and loonies thrown up by the War on Terror,
Jack Idema is surely the most flamboyant, but hes symptomatic
of a sprawling network of contract killers, special forces soldiers
and zone-of-silence types let loose upon an unsuspecting world by US
defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Now Jack Idema has form, as we say in the industry. He first came to
public notice in 1992 when he was congratulated by the Pentagon for
information on weapons-grade nuclear material from old Soviet stocks
being shipped to terrorists. He supposedly extracted this information
from friendly KGB contacts, but when the CIA and FBI asked him for his
contacts, he refused. This may or may not have had something to do with
a subsequent six-year spell in prison for fraud. Whatever. In October
2001, Idema moved to Afghanistan as a mercenary advisor
to the Northern Alliance. He became a media star, appearing frequently
on Fox News, where he was fond of asserting that everybody on
the ground in Afghanistan knew Saddam Hussein was helping al-Qaeda.
It was in this period that Idema supplied what may have been his greatest
service to the neo-conservatives imperial ambitions with his discovery
of a lurid al-Qaeda video which purported to show terrorists
training to take school kids hostage. At the time, the video raised
suspicions, but it was eagerly seized by Washington and the pro-war
media as a propaganda tool. To their shame, even Australias ABC
It now turns out that Jack Idema owns the Point Blank News Network (PBN)
of Fayetteville, North Carolina, the folk you have to pay if you want
to screen the al-Qaeda training video. The point here is that Idema
had both the knowledge and the crew to fake the al-Qaeda video for Donald
These days, not everybody in Washington is happy with Rummy, his odious
deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, or their neo-conservative agenda. In fact, within
the US bureaucracy, theres a virtual civil war between the neocons
and the others, and the arrest of Idema is certain evidence of that
Upon news of the arrests, a US spokesman in Kabul denied that Idema,
whose men had been swaggering around Kabul for months, was anything
to do with the US. His had apparently been a private anti-terrorist
campaign fuelled by the US$25m reward for Osama Bin Ladin. The spin-doctor
pointed out that a wanted notice for Idema was already in circulation
when his private prison was raided. But within days the US military
admitted they had previously taken into custody at least one prisoner
turned over to them by Idemas Task Force Sabre 7 group.
The day after Idemas arrest, a story in the Washington Times,
based on leaks from the US State Department -- never close to the neo-cons
-- said the department was restricting the roles of some special
operations troops who have been assigned secretly to US embassies to
gather intelligence on al Qaeda and other Islamist terror groups.
The report went on to say that the Pentagon had been placing Green Berets
and other special operations forces in embassies, under
diplomatic cover, to enhance the
ability to locate al-Qaeda
cells and prepare to attack them.
In other words, these people were becoming a diplomatic embarrassment
and the department was taking a stand against the crazies Rumsfeld had
billeted on them. It isnt hard to see that in closing down Jack
Idemas contract operation, the State Department was drawing a
line in the sand.
22 July, Idema and his buddies got their
day in the Afghan court, Idema told reporters he was working under direct
orders from the Pentagon and he threatened to produce the evidence.
He named as his contact Heather Anderson, director of security for Stephen
Cambone, whos Rumsfelds Undersecretary of Defence Intelligence.
You can read all this in vivid detail at the very well-informed
Flogging the Simian blog (www.weblog.ro/soj), but one small
thing caught my attention: according to a message on an obscure chat
site for ex-US special forces soldiers, Jack Idema was, in May this
year, working as a contract interrogator in Iraq. Thats right,
in Iraq. That was during the missing month between Nick
Bergs disappearance and the discovery of his decapitated body
in Baghdad; the month when the notorious orange jumpsuit
execution video was filmed.
Finally we have a suspect with all the right credentials.
19 September 04:
to the above, I contacted the source of Soj's information that Idema
had worked in Iraq. He informed me that this information was mistaken
and that he had meant that Idema was doing contract interrogation in
Afghanistan. The investigation continues ...
evidence and observations on the Berg case
18 July 2004
A close comparison of frames from the Berg video and pictures from Abu
Ghraib prison reveals more evidence that the execution video was recorded
in the notorious prison complex.WARNING: THIS
ARTICLE CONTAINS DISTURBING IMAGES
questions about Nicholas Berg's last days:
An open letter to Beth A. Payne, US Consul, Baghdad, Iraq
Millions want to know the truth about the last days of the young American
contractor murdered in Iraq. Was he seized a second time by US forces?
The US Consul in Baghdad should tell us all she knows.
Nick Berg: the missing month
A lot of people would like to know what
happened to Nicholas Berg after he walked out of Baghdads Fanar
Hotel on 10 April. They say the 26 year-old American contractor was
looking for a taxi when he walked off down the street and into history.
Nicholas Berg execution:
A working hypothesis and a resolution for the orange jumpsuit mystery
Why was Nick Berg wearing a regulation-issue US prison jumpsuit when
he was apparently executed on video by what are claimed to be al-Qaeda-linked
terrorists? Something fishy there, but there may be a simple explanation.