Nick Berg of Philadelphia moments before he was murdered (Reuters)
Reuters, in their caption to the photo up above, says Berg was “executed.” So does the AP story below. But this man had committed no crime for which execution was warranted by any frame of reference. He was murdered. Will the world that is recoiling in ever-greater paroxysms of horror over the prisoner abuse note how disproportionate is this response?
CAIRO, Egypt – 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. …
On the Web site, one of the executioners read a statement:
“For the mothers and wives of American soldiers, we tell you that we offered the U.S. administration to exchange this hostage with some of the detainees in Abu Ghraib and they refused.”
“So 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 Web site on which the video was posted is known as a clearing house for al-Qaida and Islamic extremist groups’ statements and tapes. An audiotape purportedly from bin Laden “” which the CIA said was probably authentic “” appeared on the same Web site last week.
Western officials say al-Zarqawi, whose real name is Ahmad Fadhil al-Khalayleh, is a lieutenant of bin Laden. The United States has offered $10 million for information leading to the capture or killing of al-Zarqawi, saying he is trying to build a network of foreign militants in Iraq to work for al-Qaida.
In the video, the speaker threatened both President Bush and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
“As for you Bush … expect severe days. You and your soldiers will regret the day you stepped into the land of Iraq,” he said. He described Musharraf as “a traitor agent.”