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May 18, 2004
Four Held In Berg Butchery

Britain's Sky News reports from Iraq that four men have been detained in the butchery beheading of American Nicholas Berg:

Four people have been arrested over the beheading of American Nicholas Berg, Iraq sources say. The 26-year-old businessman's decapitated body was found 10 days ago in Baghdad.

His killing was shown around the world on the internet. ... The website said the execution was performed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a top ally of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

It is not known if he was among the four people arrested.

Thus far, Sky News is the only outlet reporting their capture. The report is (at this time) about 45 minutes old. I'll update this post as more information comes through. (via Memeorandum)

UPDATE: From the French news service AFP:

Four people have been arrested over the beheading of US businessman Nicholas Berg, whose killing was shown earlier this month in a video on an Al-Qaeda linked website, a senior Iraqi source said. Asked if more than one person had been arrested in connection with the killing, the source told AFP: "Yes, four people." ...

"We have made good progress," the source added, referring to the investigation, but declined to give any details on the identity of the four people held in detention. But it was understood that none of the four included Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, who US authorities believe carried out the killing of the 26-year-old who was in Iraq to drum up business for his small telecommunications company.

So they got the four people who weren't al-Zarqawi, it seems, which if true tells us a little bit about al-Zarqawi, the terrorist cells, and the nature of the Iraq insurgency in general. First, it appears that al-Qaeda terrorist cells organize themselves in fours or fives, and al-Zarqawi wasn't a permanent member of this cell, hence his evasion of capture. That means he attached himself to this particular kidnapping in order to make as gruesome a public statement as possible, identifying himself explicitly with the murder itself. After the murder, he probably left the cell to go back to its own operation and moved to another mission.

More importantly, although al-Zarqawi was the only terrorist identified, he was the only one who got away. Why? All five had hoods on for the video and none of the others were identified. Yet it looks as if they couldn't escape the CPA. Remembering that they held Berg for almost a month, I believe a number of Iraqis in the area knew who was holding Berg and after the video of al-Zarqawi's butchery came out, at least one of the locals decided to make sure these ghouls got captured as fast as possible.

If all this conjecture comes close (and yes, I know it's conjecture), it demonstrates that the Iraqis don't identify with the insurgents or their methods anywhere near as much as people think. That's good information to keep in mind when we read about the so-called "popular uprisings" in Najaf and Karbala.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 18, 2004 10:58 AM

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» those hoods look awfully familiar from Auterrific
Peacefully, I left my home yesterday afternoon to go shopping. Upon return, I flip to the news online to find Nick Berg, dead. Immediately, I was filled with emotions remaining from Daniel Pearls death. Immediately, I left the page where... [Read More]

Tracked on May 18, 2004 11:46 AM



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