Nic Berg Conspiracy Theories Debunked

I was listening to the radio this morning and the DJs brought up a Nic Berg conspiracy theory. A quick google search found these common conspiracy theorists' arguments that the CIA/US Military killed Nic Berg. (do a search under "Berg Conspiracy"):

1. The chair is the same type found in Abu Ghraib prison.

2. The orange jumpsuit that Nic Berg is wearing is the same type that prisoners in Abu Ghraib wear and why would a terrorist want to draw attention to a captor with an orange jumpsuit.

3. That the hands of the "terrorists" are "white" and they are "fat".

4. The sound is too clear for a video camera held at 10-12 feet.

5. Approximately 1 minute of video is missing (after Berg is dead and they are cutting off his head...just before they raise the head.

6. That Muslims do not decapitate victims in this manner. They kill with one quick blow with a sharp sword.

7. That one of the "terrorists" is standing at parade rest.

8. That the video camera is set to 24 hours (military time) instead of 12 hours.

9. The head cut is "too clean" for a knife.

10. al-Zarqawi is wearing a gold ring. Wearing gold is forbidden by Islam.

11. That a "frame-by-frame" analysis shows a person wearing a U.S. military hat.

12. al-Zarqawi has a prosthetic leg and moves too well in the video.

13. A lack of blood at the scene. A medical expert claimed in the Asia Times that he believed the Berg to be already dead.


1. Illogical argument. There is a white plastic chair in Abu Ghraib prison. Nic Berg was sitting on a white plastic chair. Therefore Nic Berg was in Abu Ghraib prison. These chairs are common throughout the world...they are cheap plastic chairs for crying out loud. I have the same set...so I must been acting in complicity with the CIA to kill Nic Berg.

2. Illogical argument. Prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison wear orange jumpsuits. Nic Berg was wearing an orange jumpsuit. Therefore Nic Berg was killed in Abu Ghraib prison. Oh, and these are difficult to find? They are VERY easy to find!

A point on #1 and #2. If these terrorists were outraged regarding prisoner abuse, they'd WANT to draw comparisons to Abu Ghraib prison by staging the murder in this manner.

3. Illogical argument. Pure assumption. This argument works on a faulty premise that all Arabs are dark-skinned. All Arabs are dark-skinned. The killers are light-skinned. Therefore the killers cannot be Arabs. In fact, pictures of al-Zarqawi show him to be a lighter skinned Arab. Arab terrorists are never fat? These people are well funded...I'm sure they eat well. In additition, it would be difficult to gauge their size with the robes they are wearing.

4. Audio is too clear? I'm not sure I agree with this point, but it would be very simple to rig a microphone boom that would be out-of-frame.

5. Yes, a minute of video is missing. A simple edit job would have pulled out the extra minute it took to completely sever his head. That extra minute would have lessened the impact of them cutting off his head and raising it to the camera.

6. This is false. Muslims execute other Muslims this way...NOT their enemies! Beheading is a method prescribed by Islamic Law. Since Berg was not Muslim and was an "infidel", no such quick death was given to him.

7. Illogical argument. Terrorist is standing at "Parade Rest". Parade rest is used by the U.S. Military. Therefore the terrorist is with the U.S. Military. This is a pure stretch. In addition, al Qaeda operated numerous training camps and as such would have instilled basic military discipline. I stand with my hands behind my back when I'm in a line...does that mean I'm in the military?

8. Illogical argument. The video is on 24 hour time. The U.S. Military uses 24 hour time. Therefore the military videotaped the murder. This is so weak I don't know how to respond. I have videos of my son that are set to 24 hours...and not on purpose. It just wasn't a priority while filming him. I don't remember if the default was 24 hours or 12...but the consipiracy theorists' arguments on this point are so weak as to defy explanation.

9. This is false. There is tissue clearly hanging from the head and the cut is NOT clean.

10. Illogical argument. al-Zarqawi is a Muslim. Islam forbids the wearing of gold. Therefore the "terrorist" cannot be al-Zarqawi. Islam also forbids things like drinking and going to strip clubs...but thats exactly what many of the 9/11 terrorists did the night before they flew the planes into the WTC and the Pentagon.

11. Though so many sites claimed that something was a hat or helmet in the right-hand side of the frame during the killing, it is a real stretch. There is a person standing there, but what they are wearing is NOT clear.

12. A few points here. 1. There's no proof that al-Zarqawi has a prosthetic leg. The U.S. military has stated they aren't certain of that fact. 2. That people that have prothestic limbs cannot move well is pure assumption. It really depends on the prosthesis (and where the amputation is on the leg). AND the length of time the person has had the prosthesis. I don't see that the killer is moving especially well. The person to the right of the killer is the one that moves quickly to knock Berg to the ground. al-Zarqawi goes to a knee and begins the killing. When he stands, one leg does look stiff, but that's hardly evidence in support of their argument.

13. You can clearly see blood coming out of the neck of Berg as he's being murdered. As for the lack of blood on the ground, it would be masked by the dark color of the flooring (though you can make out a darker color than the flooring).Though it is interesting that approx 90 seconds of video is missing from the time he is thrown to the ground to the time the first cut begins, the claims that the body was already dead before he is decpatitated is speculative at best. You you can clearly see Berg moving (in the full video) before he is thrown down to the ground and after the decapitation begins. Is it possible in the missing 90 seconds killed him or otherwise incapcitated him in another manner in 90 seconds? Yes, he could have been incapacitated, but from the looks of the video, it's doubtful that he was dead prior to the decapitation as you can here the scream and gurgling.

There you have it...and thanks to all the wacko conspiracy theorists that forced me to watch the video again to debunk your weak arguments. It just ticked me off all over again!


Blogger eskadoni said...

hey, i don't buy that either. but where is a link to the story! the right has conspiracy nuts, too. here is a link to a story about nick berg being in on it, apparently to shame bush. http://junkyardblog.transfinitum.net/archives/week_2004_05_09.html#003125

May 19, 2004 at 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's one:

A google search under "berg conspiracy" yields a ton of hits...

May 19, 2004 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger theManchurianCandidate said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 22, 2004 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger theManchurianCandidate said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 22, 2004 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger theManchurianCandidate said...


What do you have to say about the email incident with the acquaintance of Zacarias Moussaoui? I know you are going to say that it's illogical to think that it isn't possible that Nic Berg could have run into a terrorist on a bus and this terrorist used his email to communicate with other terrorists and then was later killed by people who connected with this person. Did he know too much? Was he a target for execution since the email incident? Was it all part of the master Al Qaeda plan to have Dubya start a war on terrorism to lure Nic Berg to the Middle East so he could be captured and executed for the abuses at Abu Ghraib?

If you were a terrorist, would you being asking a non-muslim stranger in a foreign land, who could possibly be a law enforcement officer or US government agent or employee, to use his email to communicate? Talk about six degrees of seperation...


May 22, 2004 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Liberal_Slayer said...

In my post, I'm only addressing the consipiracy that he was killed.

I do find it VERY interesting the connections with the e-mail, etc. His father is also an active anti-war activist. Is it possible that he had ties to the terrorists? Yes. Is it also possible that he pissed them off? Yes. More on this facet of his death and possible connection to the terrorists have yet to be revealed...and may never be revealed. I'll agree that it is very strange...but idea that the U.S. Government was responsible for killing him is ludicrous.

May 22, 2004 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger theManchurianCandidate said...

Speaking of interesting, isn't it a bit strange that Nic Berg didn't instinctly fight back as he was being attacked? Even if he was caught by surprise, don't you think we would have struggled a bit more? The possibility exists that he was drugged, but then would he really suffer as his captors intended?

May 22, 2004 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Liberal_Slayer said...

Not really. If you've seen the whole video (including the terrorist reading their statement), you can see Berg sigh and shrug his shoulders near the end of the statement. I believe at that point he was resigned to the fact he was going to die.

May 22, 2004 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger theManchurianCandidate said...

At first, I thought the same thing and I have never been in or never wish to be in that position to understand what he must have been thinking. The only reason I brought it up is that I have read stories of death row inmates moments before their execution screaming, crying and kicking and they may have had years to think about it. Just a thought.

May 23, 2004 at 8:50 AM  
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