Asia Times article questions Nick Berg decapitation video

It’s good to see that questions are being asked by the mainstream media. Blogs have gone crazy with this story, and this intriguing link is now everywhere (thanks to the commenter who pointed it out to me; I’d hold it in higher esteem if the writer weren’t so blatantly anti-Israel). For all the hysteria, there are some points here that appear legitimate, or at least worthy of an explanation from the government. Now, Asia Times raises yet more doubts.

[A]ccording to what both a leading surgical authority and a noted forensic death expert separately told Asia Times Online, the video depicting the decapitation appears to have been staged.

“I certainly would need to be convinced it [the decapitation video] was authentic,” Dr John Simpson, executive director for surgical affairs at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, said from New Zealand. Echoing Dr Simpson’s criticism, when this journalist asked forensic death expert Jon Nordby, PhD and fellow of the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, whether he believed the Berg decapitation video had been “staged”, Nordby replied: “Yes, I think that’s the best explanation of it.”

The article goes through many other questions one by one, and I don’t see how anyone can one can read this without concluding there are some big puzzle pieces missing. And that there may be much more to this story that we still don’t know, but that the government does.

This is the juiciest conspiracy scenario since the JFK assassination. There may be nothing to it, but the story is so full of holes and bizarre coincidences, it’s irresistible to conspiracy theorists. I suspect the American public will swallow what it’s spoon-fed by the government and the story will just fade away from lack of interest.

The Discussion: 8 Comments

It’s not a juicy conspiracy, it’s a sad tale of a man who believed in the inherent good of people, a la Anne Frank, who went to go help rebuild a country in the name of democracy.

While you may think of the Asia Times as mainstream, I think of it more as one of the many anti-Semitic press in Asia and Europe, so held my nose while reading the article.

The fact is a man was killed, and the “blogosphere” would rather scream conspiracy than anything else. It’s not like he’s human – he was just a Jew.

It looks staged? Of course it was fucking staged – that’s what the Arabs do best when beheading people. If you’ve seen the WSJ beheading, it also looks staged. Or, how about when the Palestinians trot out parts of Israeli soldiers – it looks staged also … because it is.

All the world’s a stage and we are merely players.

Some with more grusome parts and untimely endings, unfortunately.

May 23, 2004 @ 10:06 pm | Comment

I’ve read Asia Times for years and never found it anti-Semitic. What do you base that on?

Forget about the staging — the real conspiracy questions being raised are about why he was wearing an orange prison jumpsuit days after he was ostensibly released from detainment, the little details that remind some of Abu Ghraib (the white plastic chair, the yellow walls, the prison garb), the astounding coincidence of his letting a 911 terrorist use his email, the suddent declaration that it was definitely Zarkawi who did the slicing (shortly after an announcement that Zarkawi was probably dead) — well, you saw the list of 50 questions from kiro5hin. As I said, it may all add up to nothing, but it’s a conspiracy junkie’s dream.

May 23, 2004 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

How about the article last week that said that the jews controlled the United States?

here, let me show you the link.

Joe Nichols says, ‘For better or for worse, informed observers must concede that Jews in the US have reached a pinnacle of wealth and influence fantastically beyond their numbers.’.

So, i guess we’re going to have to trim them down!

Anyway, read the whole thing.

I have always found the Asia Times to have interesting points obscured by completely rampant and hard to follow articles. This article, like many others, follows no precise train of thought, and is a little like watching a bobblehead doll.

May 23, 2004 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

I wouldn’t put much stock in anything printed in Asia Times. They have a history of publishing absurd internet hoaxes.

May 24, 2004 @ 1:02 am | Comment


I have been leaving this story alone because it is a no-win situation for anyone to state the obvious: he will be vilified from every viewpoint. I will, however, state it here and see how much flack it brings.

As a journalist who has specialized in murder, and the forensics of murder, let me simply say this: Nick Berg’s heart was not pumping when his head was cut off. If it had been, the arterial gushing would have been massive, very much like an old-fashioned oil-well coming in. Blood loss would have been so forceful and plentiful that it would have dominated the video.

There are several other reasons to believe that Nick Berg was already dead when his head was cut off, but the absence of arterial gushing is all one needs to note to prove it.

It in no way lessens the brutality of the crime; and I am offering no opinions on what else a careful study of the video tells me–which is plenty. I will sit this one out until some rationality will be possible in the discourse.

May 24, 2004 @ 6:05 am | Comment

i hope nobody is suggesting that the us forces took berg and killed him through interrogation and then they acted like the terrorists killed him.

May 24, 2004 @ 10:30 am | Comment

Conrad, that’s pretty sloppy journalism! Asia Times isn’t my bible, but I’ve enjoyed many of their articles on China — usually those written by guest writers.

Joseph, I am really hoping that sometime in the future you will look at this story carefully. With your experience in forensics and news reporting, I know you could help us get to the bottom of this. Of course, I understand why you’d want to steer clear — it would be an exhausting, time-consuming effort, and time isn’t one of your luxuries at the moment. Still, I’m hoping you’ll consider it.

May 24, 2004 @ 1:36 pm | Comment


I am strongly considering it. I might start by just testing the blog waters with a slightly expanded note on the absence of arterial gushing that I mentioned above and see how receptive people are to exploring any truths regarding the “beheading” phenomenon.

May 24, 2004 @ 8:29 pm | Comment

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