Even at first glance, internet bloggers were asking on Thursday why Nick Berg was wearing an orange jumpsuit – just like US prisoners wear.
Other net surfers point to the unlikely timing of the executioner’s dubbed announcement that Berg was to die for “Iraqi prisoner abuse”.
Berg was last seen alive on 10 April, when his father Michael Berg believes he was killed – two weeks before the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal broke in the world’s media.
Some discussions focus on the timing of the video’s release – guaranteed to divert attention from the outrage over US abuse of Iraqis.
There are plenty of questions raised concerning the video too. The body is completely motionless even as the knife is brought to bear – not so much as an instinctive wriggle.
More graphically, some claim that cutting the throat’s artery would cause a significant amount of blood to gush out. But little emerges and when the head was raised – not a drop of blood is seen to fall.
“That’s really what cost my son his life, the fact that the United States government saw fit to keep him in custody for 13 days without any of his due process(es) or civil rights”
In a possible explanation, one discussion room member suggested that Berg was killed and then beheaded later.
However, the circumstances of the video release are also strange. A Reuters journalist in Dubai first named the Muntada al-Ansar al-Islami website as the source for the video – at www.al-ansar.biz.
Although the site has now been shut down, Aljazeera.net looked at the site within 90 minutes of the story breaking – and could find no such video footage.
But Fox News, CNN and the BBC were all able to download the footage from the Arabic-only website and report the story within the hour.
Days before death
Other questions presented by bloggers are Berg’s peculiar circumstances in the weeks before his death. Why would a private Jewish American citizen choose to wander around Iraq by himself?
Additionally, some have pointed out that his last email on 6 April to his family stated he wished to return home as soon as possible – yet the FBI claims he refused an offer of help to get home.
Some claim the face in the video
In the wider press, FBI involvement has also generated much discussion as to why Berg was really arrested and detained for two weeks in Mosul.
The unemployed visitor was suspicious enough for Iraqi police to arrest him – with FBI knowledge.
He had only just been released from prison where he had been held for 13 days by Iraqi police for reasons he said he did not know.
Family blames government
A US newspaper claims an official familiar with the case knew that FBI agents had interrogated Berg, but had left him for two weeks because he was in Iraqi – not American – custody.
Father Michael Berg has blamed
But the official was unable to clarify the legal difference between the two, given the US occupation.
On 5 April, Berg’s family filed a suit in federal court in Philadelphia – contending that their son was being held illegally by the US military in Iraq. The next day, he was released and left to get himself home.
The last time the family heard from him was on 9 April. His headless body was found near Mosul on 8 May.
“That’s really what cost my son his life, the fact that the United States government saw fit to keep him in custody for 13 days without any of his due process or civil rights,” Michael Berg said.
Some bloggers focused on the accent of the purported executioner. Many deny the accent is either Iraqi or Jordanian – while claims the voice is Egyptian or Iranian have been made.
The Jordanian accused of the beheading Berg is himself believed to have been killed in March, according to two Islamist groups.
An eight-page leaflet circulated this week in Falluja said Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in the Sulaimaniya mountains of northern Iraq during a US bombing.
But even if it were the Jordanian, one discussion room member observes his face is so well-known that “why would he bother to cover it?”