- MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi police never detained
an American whose decapitated body was found last week in Baghdad, the
police chief said Thursday, despite U.S. insistence that Nicholas Berg
was held by local authorities here shortly before he disappeared last month.
- Berg's family blames American authorities for detaining
the 26-year-old telecommunications businessman until a flare-up of anti-American
violence, which set the stage for his abduction and death.
- The young man was beheaded on a video posted Tuesday
on an al-Qaida-affiliated Web site. It bore the title "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
shown slaughtering an American," referring to an associate of Osama
bin Laden believed behind a wave of suicide bombings in Iraq.
- In Baghdad, U.S. officials said Iraqi police arrested
Berg in Mosul on March 24 because local authorities believed he may have
been involved in "suspicious activities." He would not elaborate
but insisted American authorities had not held Berg although the FBI visited
him three times before he was released April 6.
- However, police chief Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair al-Barhawi
told reporters Thursday that his department had never arrested Berg.
- "The Iraqi police never arrested the slain American,"
he said. "Take it from me ... that such reports are baseless."
- Berg went to Baghdad after his release and disappeared
April 10. U.S. officials offered him a flight to Jordan but he was afraid
to travel to the airport because of ambushes along the highway.
- Despite the police chief's statement, a U.S. official,
speaking on condition of anonymity, said Berg was detained by Iraqi authorities
"for his own protection" because his behavior in Mosul seemed
unusual for a westerner.
- He had been seen traveling in taxis and moving about
the dangerous city without any escort, the official said. He added that
Berg, who was Jewish, had written materials which were "anti-Semitic"
in tone, the official said without elaborating.
- All that raised suspicions about what he was doing in
- AP-ES-05-13-04 0556EDT