Video Shows Beheading of American in Iraq

By: By LOUIS MEIXLER, Associated Press Writer
By: By LOUIS MEIXLER, Associated Press Writer

(AP--Baghdad, Iraq) - The video showed five men wearing headscarves and black ski masks, standing over a bound man in an orange jumpsuit — similar to a prisoner's uniform. The man identified himself as Nick Berg, a U.S. civilian whose body was found Saturday near a highway overpass in Baghdad. "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." 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 up to the camera. The slaying recalled the kidnapping and videotaped beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 in Pakistan. Four Islamic militants have been convicted of kidnapping Pearl, but seven other suspects — including those who allegedly slit his throat — remain at large. The chief of Iraq's war crimes tribunal, meanwhile, said trials of Saddam Hussein and others will begin next year, although U.S. officials disputed the statement. Berg was a small-business owner from West Chester, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, his family said Tuesday. "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," one of the men read from a statement. "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 video bore the title "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi shown slaughtering an American." It was unclear whether al-Zarqawi — a lieutenant of Osama bin Laden — was shown in the video, or was claiming responsibility for ordering the execution. The Web site on which the video was posted is known as a clearinghouse for al-Qaida and Islamic extremist groups' statements and tapes. Photographs of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated have reverberated throughout the Arab world and have intensified anti-Western sentiment. The head of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, said the soldiers accused of abuses would be brought to justice. "I find the behavior of these American soldiers completely unacceptable and outrageous," Bremer said in an interview with Associated Press Television News. "I share the outrage of the Iraqi people and the people of the world as to what these guys did. They don't represent America, and they don't represent the face of the American military." Seven soldiers from the 372nd Military Police Company face charges in the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. The first one to go to trial, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits of Hyndman, Pa., faces a court-martial in Baghdad next week. The head of Iraq's war crimes tribunal said Tuesday the United States has pledged to hand over Saddam and dozens of other suspects from the ousted regime to Iraqi authorities by the time some sovereignty is restored June 30. U.S. officials disputed that any decisions on timing had been made. Salem Chalabi said in Kuwait that trials would begin next year and that judges would receive "files" on the suspects at the end of this year.
"We will put 100 people ... including Saddam Hussein, on trial," he said. The suspects, he added, "will be delivered to us by the coalition before the transfer of power." Secretary of State Colin Powell said he did not know anything about handing over Saddam. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher also said that as far as he knew there was no decision on when or in what time frame to hand over the ousted Iraqi leader, who has been in U.S. custody since he was captured Dec. 13. Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali" for his use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in the 1980s, could be one of the first to stand trial, Chalabi said. The United States estimates that Saddam's government killed at least 300,000 Iraqis. Some human rights groups say the number is closer to 1 million. No charges have yet been filed against Saddam or other suspects from his regime, but human rights groups have said the tribunal expects to try leaders for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Berg, 26, had been missing since April 9 — the same day insurgents attacked a U.S. convoy west of the capital. His family said they were informed Monday by the State Department that Berg was found dead in Baghdad. His mother, Suzanne, said he was in Iraq as an independent businessman to help rebuild communication antennas. He had been missing since April 9, she said. Suzanne Berg said she was told her son's body would be transported to Kuwait and then to Dover, Del. She said the family had been trying for weeks to learn where their son was but that federal officials had not been helpful. "I basically ended up doing most of the investigating myself," she said. The Russian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said one Russian energy company worker was confirmed dead and two others abducted Monday when gunmen fired on their car south of Baghdad. An Iraqi serving as a bodyguard and translator was wounded, said Yevgeny Loginov, spokesman for the Interenergoservis energy company. Gunmen attacked a U.S.-run civilian convoy operated by workers hired by a subcontractor of Kellogg Brown & Root in the western desert about 230 miles west of Baghdad. A motorist said he saw six burned vehicles, including one Iraqi civilian car caught in the crossfire. Halliburton Corp. spokeswoman Wendy Hall said "to our knowledge, all drivers have been accounted for." She said the workers had been hired by a subcontractor for Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton. April 9 also was the day that seven American contractors working for a subsidiary of Halliburton and two military men disappeared after their supply convoy was attacked on the outskirts of Baghdad. Four of the Halliburton workers and one of the military men have since been confirmed dead. Halliburton worker Thomas Hamill escaped his captors May 2 and returned home to Mississippi on Saturday. The other two Halliburton workers and the other soldier remain missing. Two military men also vanished; one was later found dead and the other, Pfc. Keith M. Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, was taken captive and remains missing. Anti-Western sentiment flared following the crackdown on Shiite extremists and the three-week Marine siege of Fallujah west of Baghdad. Sentiment intensified with the publication of photos showing U.S. soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqis in Abu Ghraib. In other developments: _ U.S. forces clashed with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia in the southern city of Kufa late Monday, killing at least five Iraqis and injuring 14 others, hospital officials said. Kufa is near Najaf, where al-Sadr took refuge last month after U.S. authorities announced they were seeking him in the assassination last year of a moderate cleric. _ The new U.S.-appointed Najaf governor, Adnan al-Zurufi, said he will ask occupation authorities to defer murder charges against al-Sadr under a proposed deal to end the standoff with his Shiite Muslim militia. _ A homemade bomb exploded in a crowded market in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing four Iraqis and injuring 23, a security official said.


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