A Brief History
On May 7, 2004, American inventor and businessman Nicholas Berg, only 26 years old, was beheaded by Islamic terrorists in Iraq, a barbaric event made all the worse because the terrorists posted a video of the murder on the internet, to the chagrin of horrified Americans. The fact that he was Iraq for humanitarian reasons made the murder that much harder to understand.
Nick Berg the inventor of a construction brick he called “Bovl Block” and owner of a construction company, was traveling overseas to teach poor countries how to make his bricks so they could erect buildings without using much steel, Nick found himself in Iraq where the United States had deposed Saddam Hussein and was attempting to restore order and help rebuild the country.
Taken into custody by Iraqi forces at a checkpoint on March 4, 2004, Berg was turned over to American military authorities and held until April 6, 2004. (The US has denied holding Berg, but Berg’s family has convincing evidence to the contrary.) Released on April 6, 2004 and advised by US officials to return to the US, Berg instead went to Baghdad and checked into a hotel. Berg was last heard from by his family on April 9, 2004 and by US officials on April 10, 2004.
After no contact from Nick for several days, his family made inquiries to US authorities who were able to turn up no clues as to Berg’s whereabouts. Frustrated, Berg’s family hired an investigator, and appealed to the Red Cross and their congressman for help.
On May 8, 2004, the decapitated body of Nicholas Berg was found by a US military patrol. A US press release reported finding Berg’s lifeless body, but failed to mention the decapitation. On May 11, 2004 Islamic terrorist group Muntada al-Ansar posted a video on their website of Berg being decapitated by terrorists after Berg read a brief statement identifying himself and a terrorist read a statement. Wearing an orange jumpsuit, Berg was held down by 2 terrorists while a 3rd terrorist used a large knife to cut off Berg’s head, holding the head up and then laying it on the body. Please only watch the video with caution as it is among the most painful and disturbing things you may ever watch (our video below does NOT show the complete beheading, which I am not willing to link directly to as I am not interested in giving vile terrorists free publicity by hosting their propaganda video in its entirety, and also out of respect for the Berg family). If you are so inclined, you can of course find the actual video doing a Google search, but again, it is something that is both disgusting and enraging to watch.
The website claimed the knife wielding terrorist was Abu Musa’b al-Zarqawi, a highly sought fugitive from American justice and one of history’s most evil wastes of life. CIA analysis confirmed Zarqawi’s identity, although the terrorists in the video wore ski masks. Zarqawi was killed in 2009 by guided “smart” bombs from US Air Force F-16’s.
The reason given for the brutal act of terrorism was the recently revealed misconduct of US military jail guards and the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The video also threatened President George W. Bush and promised more Americans would be killed. The terrorists later claimed they attempted a prisoner exchange for Berg but the US authorities refused.
Berg had contact in the US with Zacarias Moussaoui who had used Berg’s computer and email account prior to engineering the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The FBI reported that Berg had no link to terrorism.
Question for students (and subscribers): Did the American mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib really lead to Bergs horrible murder, or was that just an excuse? Did the US really reject a prisoner trade? What was up with Berg’s contact with Moussaoui? Tell us what you think in the comments section below this article.
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For more on the beheading in its broader context, please see…
Gabriel, Brigitte. Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008.
The featured image in this article, a screenshot from the 2004 hostage video of Nick Berg, titled Abu Musa’b al-Zarqawi slaughters an American, where Berg was executed by Al Qaeda in Iraq fighters, was posted on the website for Muntada al-Ansar on May 11, 2004. The copyright in this image is believed to be held by a person, organization or state subject to U.S. sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA, 50 U.S.C. Chapter 35). As such, it is believed that the corresponding U.S. copyright is “blocked property“. The image is used as “information or an informational material” under the provisions of 50 U.S.C. § 1702(b)(3), and under the fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law. In particular, it is not possible to create or use an alternative work in the context of the article.