Jonathan Idema, American scam artist, died from complications from AIDS, he was 55
Jonathan Keith “Jack” Idema
was a former army reserve special operations non-commissioned officer
with a controversial history died from complications from AIDS, he was 55.. In September 2004 he was found guilty of
running a private prison in Afghanistan and torturing Afghan citizens. At the time, Idema had been portraying himself as a U.S. government-sponsored special forces operative on a mission to apprehend terrorists. However, the U.S. government has repeatedly denied most of such claims.
(May 30, 1956 – January 21, 2012)
Idema was released early by Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai in April 2007, departing Afghanistan in early June, having served three years of a ten-year sentence.
Idema died of AIDS in Mexico in late January 2012.
At the center of the controversy is Idema’s claim that while in
Afghanistan he was acting on behalf of the U.S. government and that he
was an advisor to the Northern Alliance. At other times, Idema told people he was in Afghanistan doing humanitarian work or that he was a “security consultant” for journalists. He also actively sought media attention for himself and his activities – to the point of offering interviews in return for payment – even though he himself said he was operating covertly.
Many believe Idema to be a con artist or impostor, based on his refusal or inability to demonstrate verifiable proof for his claims, on legal records
that contradict his assertions about his background, as well as on a
prior conviction for mail fraud and a history of criminal activity. Some
have suggested that he may also be delusional in having concocted a fantasy-type personality for himself as a highly-trained covert operative combating international terrorism, despite a brief and mostly non-notable military record (which states that Idema was in the Special Forces strictly in a support capacity). This opinion was echoed by Major Scott Nelson, the U.S. military spokesperson in Kabul at the time of Idema’s arrest in 2004.
The judge in Idema’s 1994 fraud trial also questioned Idema’s
psychological state and ordered him to undergo evaluation prior to his
sentencing. The report said that while he was not “mentally ill”, Idema
had a “personality disorder which would affect his interaction with
persons exhibiting similar traits, such as supervisors, attorneys,
doctors, judges and other persons in positions of power or authority.”
In the early 1990s, Idema said he had uncovered a plot by the Russian mafia to smuggle nuclear weapons out of Russia. Before that he said he participated in covert operations in Latin America.
Furthermore, he said that as a soldier he parachuted out of airplanes
accompanied by his dog Sarge, who was also trained as a bomb-sniffer.
(Idema reportedly saved Sarge’s genetic material with the hopes of later
cloning the pet.)
Idema was not without his supporters, usually found among blogs
sympathetic to his situation. The contributors to these blogs believe
that he is being unjustly punished for actions condoned, if not
officially sanctioned, by the U.S. military. However, there has been
little support for Idema’s claims in general media outlets. Indeed, many
members of the media who encountered Idema while they were on
assignment in Afghanistan regard him as a fraud.
Idema was litigious, filing law suits
or threatening legal action against his detractors – usually those who
have disclosed information about his past, but also those whom he has
accused of fraud or libel. For instance, he tried to sue Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks Studios over the 1997 film The Peacemaker. Idema charged that the Special Forces operative played by George Clooney was modeled on him. A judge dismissed Idema’s claim and ordered him to pay US$267,079 in attorney fees.
Idema was raised in Poughkeepsie, New York, graduating from high school there in 1974. In February 1975 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. His father H. John Idema, a former Marine and World War II veteran, believed that his son was a “dedicated American”. H. John Idema died in November 2008.
There is a discrepancy between what Idema says his military experience was as a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces
and what is stated in his official military record. Idema has
repeatedly stated on television, radio, and in writing that he acquired
12 years of Special forces service, 22 years of combat training, and 18
years of covert operations experience.
Idema’s military career was short and contained several reports of
poor performance, with no record that he acquired any combat experience.
Two years after enlisting in the Army in 1975, he qualified for the
According to his military record obtained in the course of his 1994
fraud trial, after serving one term of service Idema was not allowed to
reenlist, likely due to poor performance. He had received numerous
negative remarks from superior officers in addition to participating in
three non-judicial punishment
proceedings. Idema was cited for “failure to obey orders, being
derelict in the performance of his duty, and being disrespectful to a
superior commanding officer.”
One superior officer, Capt. John D. Carlson stated that Idema “is
without a doubt the most unmotivated, unprofessional, immature enlisted
man I have ever known.”
However, he was given an honorable discharge and allowed to join the United States Army Reserve 11th Special Forces Group working to provide logistical support. In a November 1, 1980 letter of reprimand,
Major Paul R. Decker wrote that Idema “consistently displayed an
attitude of noncooperation with persons outside his immediate working
environment, disregard for authority and gross immaturity characterized
by irrationality and a tendency toward violence.”
In January 1981, Idema was relieved of his Army Reserve duties, his
last position was the assistant sergeant of operations and intelligence. After leaving the Army reserves, he became a member of the Individual Ready Reserve until he left the military completely in 1984.
Several years after he left the Army, Idema became involved in the paintball business, opening a paintball supply and equipment company in Fayetteville, North Carolina
named Idema Combat Systems. He later segued that business into a
paramilitary clothier and supply company operating under the same name.
Sometime in the early 1980s Idema founded Counterr Group
(also known as US Counter-Terrorist Group), a business entity which,
according to its website, specializes in expert training for
counter-terrorism, assault tactics and other security-related services.
Counterr Group’s legal status and ownership is questionable – according to a Soldier of Fortune article published in 2004, Idema is mentioned as the owner.
The company website lists a PO Box address in Fayetteville, but there
is no record of the company’s registration in that state. However, a
company called “Counter Group, Inc.” was incorporated in 1997 by William
L. London, a lawyer who has represented Idema in several lawsuits. (The
status for this company is listed as “suspended” as of 2004.)
The only company in North Carolina registered to Jonathan Idema is
Idema Combat Systems, which according to state records was incorporated
in January 1991 and dissolved in July 1994. Moreover, the websites for Counterr Group are registered to Thomas R. Bumback, a business associate of Idema’s who is believed to be the company’s current director. There is a record of Counterr Group being formed in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1983, but the company is listed as “inactive.”
Idema also owned a company called Special Operations Exposition and
Trade Show Inc which hosted organized conventions for military equipment
There are two other known companies – Isabeau Dakota, Inc. and Star
America Aviation Company, Ltd. – that have connections to Idema. The
latter claims to be an aviation support company founded in July 2008
with operations based out of Dubai. Both companies are registered to William “Skip” London in North Carolina, but Isabeau Dakota is listed a shell company;
its last annual report, filed in 2002, identifies “H. John Idema”
(Idema’s father) of Poughkeepsie, New York as president and sole
officer, and it lists no significant assets or business activity. The website for Star America Aviation is also registered to Bumback
and the websites for Counterr Group and Star America Aviation are very
similar, including the use of imagery depicting Idema, while he was in
Afghanistan and prior to his arrest.
According to his father’s obituary notice, Idema is said to be a
“Green Beret with an organization involved in the War on Terror.” Idema’s former Afghan charity “Northern Alliance Assistance” at 450 Robeson Street, Fayetteville, NC 28302 is now listed as a dog kennel.
Idema became a proprietor of Blue Lagoon Boat Tours out of Bacalar, Mexico. using the false name of “Jack Black”. He was charged by his wife Penny Alesi of attempted murder and infecting her with HIV.
His arrest warrant and publicity surrounding the wife beating charges
were picked up in a number of local Mexican newspapers and the US media.
Specifically Wired Danger Room, Virginian Pilot and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC as well as other blogs.
In addition to his occasional entrepreneurial pursuits, Idema has a
substantial criminal record. Over the years Idema has been charged with
impersonating an officer, conspiracy, passing bad checks, assault,
possession of stolen property, and discharging a firearm into a
dwelling. In January 1994, Idema was arrested and charged with 58 counts
of wire fraud defrauding 59 companies of about $260,000. He was
convicted of the charges, sentenced to six years in prison (paroled
after having served three years) and was subsequently ordered to pay
On August 15, 2001 a jury awarded Idema $781,818 for property damage
and $1 million for punitive damages. The award came after a jury decided
that a property manager improperly sold some of his belongings while
Idema was serving his fraud sentence. Two property managers were hired
by Idema to take care of a building that housed equipment for two of his
businesses, Special Operations Exposition and Trade Show Inc., and
Idema Combat Systems. According to the lawsuit, equipment was missing,
damaged or destroyed, and holes were punched in the walls of the
building. Idema sued both property managers and their wives on April 10,
2000, but everyone except for one property manager was later dropped
from the suit.
In June 2005, an investigator sued Idema alleging that he wasn’t paid
when Idema won the 1.8 million dollar lawsuit. The investigator claimed
that Idema orally agreed to pay 15% of any amount collected, he also
claimed that Idema failed to pay court reporters, expert witnesses, and
others who helped him with his case. Idema never collected the 1.8
million because the property manager that was found guilty declared
bankruptcy and Idema settled for 650,000 dollars that he obtained
through law suits filed against insurance carriers. Idema’s father was
Lithuania and nuclear weapons smuggling
In 1993 Idema was contracted to train police forces in the former Soviet republic of Lithuania. After his return, he contacted officials from both the Pentagon and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), claiming to have uncovered a conspiracy by the Russian Mafia
to smuggle nuclear material out of Lithuania. According to Idema, FBI
agents demanded he provide the names of his contacts. He refused,
claiming that the FBI was infiltrated by KGB agents and that his sources
would have been killed.
It was around this time that Idema was being investigated for wire
fraud and eventually convicted in 1994. Idema asserted that the fraud
charges were fabricated by FBI agent Earl Edwin Pitts,
who he claims supervised the case against him, in retaliation for
Idema’s earlier refusal to provide sources in the smuggling plot.
However, the FBI began their investigation into Idema’s activities as
early as May 1991, before he even approached the Bureau about Lithuania. Furthermore, there is no evidence that Pitts was involved in any capacity in the fraud case against Idema.
Entry and credentials
Illegal entry into Afghanistan was one of the charges leveled against Idema and two other Americans accompanying him – former soldier Brent Bennett and television journalist Edward Caraballo. That charge was eventually dropped.
Idema first traveled to Afghanistan in November 2001 to conduct what he said was “humanitarian relief” work. It was at this time that he involved himself in the research Robin Moore was conducting for his book The Hunt for Bin Laden. He was actually working for National Geographic with Gary Scurka.
According to Gary Scurka, a reporter for CBS News,
Idema contacted him a few weeks after the September 11 terror attacks
and announced he was going to Afghanistan to do humanitarian-aid work,
saying he was to work with Knightsbridge International and the Partners International Foundation, two aid groups run by former military personnel. This led to Scurka and Idema presenting a film documentary project for National Geographic.
Idema, Gary Scurka, and Greg Long traveled to Tashkent, Uzbekistan
where they were arrested for visa problems and held in a cell
overnight. The three were freed after their captors received a letter
from the US embassy in Uzbekistan, written by an officer in the US
Defense Attache’s Office, describing Idema and Scurka as “contracting
officers from the Defense Department who arrived to the Republic of
Uzbekistan for an official trip.” The letter, which was verified as
authentic by the director of the Department of State’s press office, was
dated November 2, 2001 and asks Uzbekistan’s ministry of foreign
affairs for help in issuing visas to Idema, Gary Scurka, and Greg Long.
Greg Long was a member of Partners International Foundation.
According to sources familiar with Idema’s activities in Afghanistan[who?],
Idema joined Partners International Foundation at the same time Scurka
received a National Geographic assignment to produce a documentary on
humanitarian aid work in Afghanistan. A memo signed by the president of
National Geographic TV says Scurka would be going to Afghanistan with
KnightsBridge International, and the leader of KnightsBridge, Ed Artis,
would be working with Idema. Artis was sued by Idema.
Author Robert Young Pelton
believes that Idema then used those letters and what appears to be a
falsified or modified military ID. Idema claimed he had a visa similar
to those carried by US special forces to convince the Afghan commanders and other people of his official status.
After Idema entered Afghanistan, both humanitarian organizations quickly became wary of Idema’s intentions. In December 2001, Edward Artis, director of Knightsbridge, wrote to U.S. Army Special Operations Command warning them of Idema’s activities, stating:
|“||[Idema] is a
very dangerous person by virtue of his carelessness and stupidity, and
before he gets someone killed… he needs to be removed from the area. I
feel that given the amount of time that he has been allowed to run
around telling people he has been working for the U.S. Embassy,
Pentagon, Special Ops under cover or the CIA, that he has garnered or
bought enough contacts to pose a real threat to not only me and those
near me but the over all mission of the United States and the Coalition
that is fighting there.”
Idema later filed suit against Artis and Knightsbridge but the case
was dismissed and a monetary judgement was in turn placed against him.
Idema led a group he called “Task Force Saber 7” consisting of two
other Americans and several Afghanis. The group may have been operating
in Afghanistan with independent financial backing or with funds from two
lawsuit settlements Idema had won a few years earlier, one of which was
for $1.8 million. He frequently interacted with reporters, often going to great lengths in his interviews to stress connections with the CIA and Special Forces. Some supporters suggest that he was a former member of an unspecified covert operations unit, reactivated and positioned in Afghanistan to hunt for Osama Bin Laden under operation Alec Station. Relationship to the Northern Alliance was denied by their official representative in the United States.
Some critics of Idema claim that his attempts to create a high
profile with the media make it unlikely that Idema was officially
connected with any branch of the military; covert operatives go to great
lengths to avoid public appearances and media, and are barred from
unauthorized contact. The fact that Caraballo, who was not a soldier,
was with Idema in Afghanistan to document his activities strained
credibility that Idema was operating covertly.
Idema was known to have a volatile temper that seemed to be
particularly directed against news correspondents assigned to Kabul. On
several occasions, Idema threatened journalists with bodily harm or
death, and in one particular instance, at a dinner in December 2001 he
threatened to kill a reporter from Stars and Stripes because the reporter had disclosed Idema’s fraud conviction.
It has been recorded that Idema did frequently contact the Defense Department through the front office of General William G. Boykin,
and that his information was duly acknowledged. However, all of those
contacts were outside the US Military operating channels and were all
one-sided calls from Idemas personal phone. Boykins office repeatedly
asked Idema to stop making these unsolicited phone calls, because they
were disruptive; time consuming; and Boykin could not be of assistance.
Idema continued calling Boykins office to establish some sort of
self-serving relationship, until his arrest. While the US government was
aware of Idema’s activities in Afghanistan, they stated there was
unequivocally no relationship between them.
The United States Central Command stated that Coalition forces
received one detainee from Idema on May 3, 2004. Idema claimed that the
individual was associated with the Taliban. Once in US custody, however,
the detainee was determined not to be who Idema claimed, and was
released in the first week of July.
The United States was not the only government that had contact with
Idema in Afghanistan; On three occasions, Idema tricked the Canadian led
NATO mission into providing explosives experts and bomb sniffing dogs. According to a spokesman for the ISAF,
Idema called for and received technical support after his vigilante
team raided compounds on June 20, 22, and 24 of 2004. ISAF personnel
believed they were “providing legitimate support to a legitimate
Idema also received assistance from Yunus Qanooni; former minister, senior Afghan government security advisor, and influential member of the Northern Alliance.
In one video tape presented at Idema’s trial, Yunus Qanooni thanked
Idema for uncovering an assassination plot against him. In the same tape
Qanooni volunteered his personal security troops to help Idema with
arrests. Another tape appeared to show Qanooni’s forces assisting Idema in a house raid.
On July 4, 2004 the United States Central Command released a media advisory that read:
Jonathan K. Idema has allegedly represented himself as an American
government and/or military official. The public should be aware that
Idema does not represent the American government and we do not employ
In perhaps the most terse assessment of Idema’s alleged involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom, Billy Waugh, senior CIA covert operative and decorated former Green Beret who was a member of the Agency-run “Jawbreaker” team, said:
|“||We only had 80 guys involved in our [Afghanistan] operations and Idema wasn’t one of them.||”|
Arrest, trial and sentencing
Idema and his associates Brent Bennett
and Edward Caraballo were arrested on July 5, 2004 by Afghan police
during a raid in which they found eight Afghan men (some hanging from
their feet) bound and hooded in detention. The arrest of Idema occurred
only about three months after 60 Minutes II broke the story about the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal.
Idema claimed to have had private contact with Lieutenant General
Boykin and several other senior Pentagon officials. Regarding Boykin,
Idema somehow obtained the phone number for Boykins office in the
Pentagon and started making unsolicited calls from Afghanistan via his
SatPhone. He was looking to establish a relationship with Boykin’s
office (or anyone else) to obtain funding for his efforts. The executive
assistants answering Boykins phone couldnt stop Idema’s constant and
unwanted calls, emails, and faxes. Other senior officials in Boykins
office ultimately intervened, and Idema was asked on multiple occasions
to “cease and desist” with his unsolicited calls. Idema ignored these
requests and continued making random phone calls to Boykins front office
until his arrest. Idema subsequently stated that he had a relationship
with Boykins office. The only relationship that ever existed had to do
with personnel in Boykins office politely trying to get Idema to stop
his unwanted phone calls, emails, and faxes.
He tried further to prove his official status when he claimed to be
working for the US Counter Terrorism group, the same group that some
sources say he founded. He claimed his group had prevented assassination attempts on Education Minister Yunus Qanooni and Defense Minister Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim.
He also claimed the FBI interrogated several militants captured by his
group and that after his arrest, the FBI removed from his premises
hundreds of videos, photos and documents. Some of the pieces were later
returned to Idema and his defense team. One of the videotapes shows
Afghanistan’s former education minister Yunus Qanooni thanking Idema for the arrest of two people, and offering his full cooperation in future raids.
The Defense Department’s only official contact with Idema was accepting one prisoner who was held for a month by the US military
but added that officials declined his offer to work with the government
in capturing terror suspects in Afghanistan. In early 2004, Idema was
in contact with Heather Anderson, the Pentagon’s Acting Director of
Security. Anderson was under the supervision of the chief official
responsible for intelligence matters in Donald Rumsfeld’s office. Idema
told the Afghan court that Anderson commended his work but Anderson said
she later turned down Idema’s request to work in Afghanistan for the
Pentagon. Idema continued to contact Anderson’s office in hopes of
establishing a relationship.
Idema, Caraballo and Bennett were charged with entering the country illegally, running a private prison, and torture. Idema’s American attorney was John Tiffany.
During the trial, Idema charged that he, Caraballo, and Bennett were
being beaten while in Afghan custody; however, US authorities stated the
men were being treated humanely.
On 15 September 2004, a three-judge Afghan panel headed by Judge Abdul Baset Bakhtyari
sentenced both Idema and Bennett to a ten-year prison term, while
Caraballo received eight years. Idema and Bennett’s sentences were later
cut to five and three respectively. Caraballo claimed he was filming
Idema and Bennett for a documentary on counterterrorism. Four Afghans working with Idema were sentenced to between one and five years imprisonment.
Caraballo was later pardoned by President Hamid Karzai and later returned to the United States. Bennett was freed early for good behavior on September 30, 2006.
Caraballo’s lawyer said that the day before Caraballo left
Afghanastan, Caraballo and Bennett lived in a filthy 6 by 8-foot cell
with four suspected Al Qaida terrorists; the American prisoners were
moved to a different prison for better protection. In a more recent assessment, the cell in which the prisoners lived was described as “posh”.
Amnesty and refusal to leave prison
On April 10, 2007, the Associated Press
reported that Idema would soon be released from prison and then sent
back to the United States, and that the Afghan government had granted
him amnesty. However, under the amnesty that commuted his sentence he was effectively released on April 4.
Idema refused to leave the prison, first demanding that his passport,
personal effects, and documents that he says proves his official
connection with the US government be returned to him. According to him,
he was owed compensation for $500,000 worth of equipment, mostly
computers, weapons and cameras, that was confiscated by the Afghan
government when he was arrested. Having obtained through the offices of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul a new passport as well as money to apply for a visa to India, Idema insisted that his belongings be returned and that a pet dog previously owned by Bennett be allowed to travel with him.
Idema also filed another lawsuit against the US government,
reaffirming allegations initially made in 2005 that he and his
associates had been illegally imprisoned, except that this time, Idema
was claiming that he was tortured. According to US District Judge Emmet
G. Sullivan, “Petitioners allege that United States officials ordered
their arrest, ordered their torture, stole exculpatory evidence
during their trial and appeal, exerted undue influence over Afghan
judges, and either directly or indirectly ordered judges who found
petitioners innocent not to release petitioners from prison.” This was a
shift from the earlier strategy on the part of Idema to exonerate
himself on the basis that he was acting on a Pentagon-approved mission.
Instead the focus was on the trial itself, specifically whether or not
due process was observed, with the added claim of being a torture
victim. In both instances Idema accused the U.S. government of
deliberately withholding information.
Judge Sullivan subsequently ordered the FBI and the US Department of State to answer the allegations. Attorneys from the US Justice Department have requested the case be dismissed on the grounds that Idema’s sentence had been commuted. Idema’s lawyer said the government coordinated Idema’s amnesty to avoid having to respond to allegations of misconduct.
Idema’s allegations of withheld evidence were originally made during
his Afghan trial in 2004. When the men were arrested in early July, the
tapes were confiscated by the FBI. Caraballo’s lawyer, Michael Skibbie,
claims that he was only allowed to access a portion of the tapes weeks
after he requested access. Several of the tapes were used; however,
Skibbie said several important tapes were damaged, missing or partly
erased after the FBI took custody of them. Some of the footage Skibbie
obtained was shown in court. The court tapes showed Idema being greeted
at an airport by high level Afghan officials, Idema being thanked by Yunus Qanuni, Qanooni’s troops working with Idema, captured suspects confessing during interrogation, and ISAF forces helping Idema.
As he was playing out his legal options, Idema said that another
reason he hadn’t left was because he feared for his life, ostensibly at
the hands of the Afghan government. “I could drive through the
Policharki [sic] gates right now. Then what happens? I get arrested.
[The intelligence service] will arrest me for not having an Afghan visa
and they’ll torture me and kill me. If I’m lucky, I’m only going to be
tortured,” he said. On June 2, 2007, Idema left the prison and was immediately flown out of the country.
Relationship with the media
Idema had some success convincing members of the media that he was a
terrorism expert. This allowed him to secure interviews and in some
instances get his “terrorism videos” broadcast on television. After
indicating to journalists that he had the videos in his possession, he
would usually agree to provide them in exchange for money.
Since Idema’s questionable history has come to light, the news media
has been criticized for its willingness to distribute any content or
information coming from him.
In 1995, while Idema was awaiting sentencing for fraud charges, he agreed to provide information to CBS News about the nuclear materials smuggling plot he allegedly uncovered. Gary Scurka produced a 60 Minutes
piece entitled “The Worst Nightmare”, based in part on Idema’s account.
According to Scurka, the network declined to credit Idema during the
broadcast because of the fraud conviction, even though he was a major
source for the story. A CBS spokesperson claimed that the story took 6
months to fully investigate, by which time it was very different from
the one Idema gave. Both the 60 Minutes story and a companion piece published in US News and World Report received the prestigious “Renner Award for Outstanding Crime Reporting”.
The lack of credit given to Idema prompted Scurka and Caraballo to begin making a documentary film with the working title, Any Lesser Man: The Keith Idema Story.
According to promotional materials, the documentary was to be “the real
story of one lone Green Beret’s private war against KGB Nuclear
Smuggling, Soviet spies, Arab terrorists, and the FBI.” It was never
Marecek murder trial
Idema and Scurka again worked together as consultants for the 48 Hours story about Colonel George Marecek,
a highly decorated Special Forces soldier accused and later convicted
of murdering his wife. The two were fired from the project because they
were determined to be taking an advocacy role for the defense. They
opened a “Free Marecek” office in the town where the trial was taking
place. In December 2000, 48 Hours ran the story on Marecek which included material from Idema, and Scurka’s research. Idema also took a leading part in the formation of Point Blank News (PBN) to support Marecek.
September 11 attacks
On the day following the attacks, Idema gave an interview as a
“counterterrorism adviser” to KTTV, the Fox network affiliate in Los
Angeles. During his broadcast news appearance, he said that the
hijackers might have seized three Canadian jetliners, in addition to
four American planes.
Al Qaeda hoax training footage
Idema sold tapes to many publishers that he claimed showed an Al
Qaeda training camp in action. The tapes showed men in camouflaged
tunics and ski masks storming buildings, practicing drive-by shootings,
and attacking golf courses. CBS bought the right to broadcast the tapes
before any other network, they were used in a 60 Minutes II episode called, “Heart of Darkness” in mid January 2002. CBS presented Idema and the tapes he supplied as reliable.
Idema made more money from the same tapes when he sold them to The Boston Globe, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, the BBC, and others rights to rebroadcast the Al Qaeda training camp footage with still pictures.
The authenticity of the several hours of tape is disputed because the
supposed tactics shown are not ones Al Qaeda operatives utilize.
Moreover, men who were shown in the footage occasionally communicated in
English and laughed, providing credence to the notion that the tapes
were fake and entirely staged. Some major outlets, including NBC Nightly News and CNN declined to broadcast the tapes because of the credibility issue.
Idema in September 2008 Al Qaeda video
Al Qaeda itself appears to have used some of Idema’s footage in their
September 2008 video release. In a segment released by ABC, Idema
appears “to threaten to kill an Afghan citizen during an interrogation.”
Al Qaeda claims to have “captured” the footage from Idema, but its
provenance remains unclear.
Idema sought to show that he had inside knowledge of Al Qaeda’s
collaboration with state governments, although his statements would not
be considered particularly insightful or original. For instance, he has
made suggestions that there was collaboration among North Korea, several
Middle-Eastern countries and Al Qaeda, and that was ample evidence
linking “Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia to Al Qaeda and to the attacks on
September 11,” and that in Afghanistan, the link between Iraq and Al
Qaeda was “common knowledge.” He also has said that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a supporter of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations “with money, with equipment, with technology, with weapons of mass destruction.” He also claimed to have firsthand knowledge of nuclear weapons being smuggled from Russia to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.
Idema in September 2009 Al Qaeda video
An Al Qaeda video released in September 2009 appears to contain video
clips of Idema torturing an Afghan by dunking his head in a bucket of
water. This footage was used to make the case that the US is involved in
torture in Afghanistan.
- Task Force Dagger: The Hunt for bin Laden (ISBN 0-375-50861-9), by The Green Berets author Robin Moore,
had sections devoted to Idema, referred to in the book as a special
forces operative named “Jack” (he was also featured on the book’s
cover). Unknown to Moore, Idema had added a number of fictional episodes
to the book that he would later use to support his claims. In the
manuscript Idema also included appeals for donations to charities listed
under his and his wife’s address – charities that have since come under
investigation. He managed to do this by altering the final manuscript
without Moore’s consent before it was sent to the publisher. Random House quietly dropped the book from print after publishing what had become a work of fiction that even its author had disavowed. Moore has since regretted Idema’s involvement and insisted that the publisher refused to include his corrections.
- Robert Young Pelton, in his book about private security contractors, Licenced to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror (ISBN 1-4000-9781-9), devotes a chapter to Idema’s exploits in Afghanistan, including his controversial involvement in Moore’s book Task Force Dagger: The Hunt for bin Laden.
- Mariah Blake, “Tin Soldier: An American Vigilante In Afghanistan, Using the Press for Profit and Glory,” Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 2005.
- Stacy Sullivan, “Operation Desert Fraud: How Keith Idema marketed his imaginary Afghan war,” New York Magazine, October 25, 2004.
- Peter Bergen’s article published in Rolling Stone, “Jack Idema: Shadow Warrior,” examines Idema’s military career.
- Eric Campbell’s book on reporting in war zones, Absurdistan (ISBN 0-7322-7980-1), has a few chapters on Idema.
- Idema’s claims are given full support in Barry Farber’s NewsMax column “The Case Against Keith Idema, July 22, 2004.
- Newsweek had a short section on Idema called “An Afghan Mystery” by John Barry and Owen Matthews in the July 26, 2004 edition.
- In February 2009, in an article entitled Laptop may hold key to high-level scam, the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana wrote of a police report that Idema had attempted to obtain a laptop used by jailed military imposter Joseph A. Cafasso,
also a former Fox News consultant, from the 63-year-old woman with
woman Cafasso had recently been living. The woman was frightened of
Idema and so turned the laptop over to police.
Wired Danger Room, Narco Blog, Sipse – Mercenary Located in Bacalar, Informativa – Denounced for Rape and Abuse, NotaCaribe -Former Green Beret Investigated for Domestic Violence in Bacalar, DQR -Rambo Barricaded in Bacalar, DQR – Enslaved by Rambo, DQR – Soulless Green Beret, DQR – More Niceties of the Green Beret, DQR – Rambo Slave with AIDS
Idema died of AIDS on January 21, 2012 in Mexico. 
Los Angeles Times; Jonathan ‘Jack’ Idema Convicted of running private Afghan jail 
NewsObserver; Fayetteville con man dies in Mexico 
New York Times; Jonathan Idema, Con Man and Afghan Bounty Hunter, Dies at 55 
Columbia Journalism Review;RIP: Jonathan “Jack” Idema, Media Con Man
Independent UK; The dark truth behind the man who claimed he had
Bin Laden in his sights. He said he saved many Afghan lives, but to his
victims, Jack Idema was a brutal psychopath 
Wired: Vigilante Torturer Dies in Mexico 
To see more of who died in 2011 click here