US "vigilantes" operating in Afghanistan?


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Preacherman
July 15, 2004, 03:22 AM
From Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,125730,00.html):

U.S. Vigilantes Tricked NATO in Afghanistan

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

KABUL, Afghanistan — Three American vigilantes tricked NATO peacekeepers (search) into helping with illegal raids, the security force said Wednesday, getting them to send explosives experts and bomb-sniffing dogs to check buildings in Kabul where they had detained suspects.

A spokesman said the men, led by former U.S. soldier Jonathan K. Idema (search), seemed authentic — fluent in military speak, decked out in faux U.S. Army fatigues and claiming to belong to a nonexistent task force.

"Their credibility was such that with their uniforms, their approach, our people believed they were what they said they were," said Cdr. Chris Henderson, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (search). "It was a mistake."

Afghan officials said the three men, who were arrested July 5, could spend 20 years in jail on charges of hostage-taking and assault of Afghans allegedly found hanging upside down in their private jail.

It remained unclear if the three men had been picking up innocent Afghans of if they were trailing genuine militants plotting bombings or other violence.

Henderson said Idema called in bomb-disposal teams from the International Security Assistance Force to check houses and vehicles three times from June 20-24.

The teams found "traces" of explosives in two cases, and suspicious electronic components in a third, Henderson said. He wouldn't say whether they could have been used to make bombs.

Idema, formerly of Fayetteville, N.C., appeared in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. He claimed in a book to have fought alongside the Northern Alliance troops who allied with U.S. forces to drive out the Taliban regime.

Better known as "Jack," he returned to Kabul some weeks ago with his partners. Police say he was armed and dressed in military gear and sometimes wore a flat woolen Afghan cap.

It remains unclear if Idema, who spent three years in a U.S. federal prison for a fraud conviction in the 1990s, was hoping to bank a million-dollar reward for information leading to the capture of Al Qaeda fugitives.

The U.S. military here insists that Idema, who has worked with several Western TV networks, has no connection with either it or the American government.

The U.S. Embassy has checked that the men are being treated properly, but there is no sign of an attempt to remove them from the country.

Fatah said the charges raised against the Americans, as well as four Afghans arrested along with them, carry jail terms of 16-20 years.

Abdul Baset Bakhtyari, a senior judge at Kabul's lower court, said it received the case Wednesday and it would be several days before a trial begins.

"It will be a public trial," Bakhtyari said. "They can bring lawyers from whichever country they want."

He said Idema and the two others would remain in Afghan custody.

Afghan officials say they freed all eight illegal prisoners, but residents in the Kabul neighborhood where one of the raids occurred say five men have not returned.

Henderson and an Afghan security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, both said they didn't know if the five were now in Afghan custody.

Henderson insisted Wednesday that none of the peacekeepers had witnessed any abuse of detainees. "Had anyone in ISAF seen that, it would have been reported."

Defending the force's actions, he said Idema didn't seem out of the ordinary in Kabul, with its many armed Western operatives, from American spies to private security guards.

Still, when word of the operations reached higher officials a few days after the third raid, they became suspicious and contacted the U.S. military.

"At that point they said: 'this is Idema, he's not legitimate,"' Henderson said.

Armed with information from ISAF and the Americans, Afghan forces then raided Idema's jail in Kabul, he said.

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WonderNine
July 15, 2004, 03:28 AM
More like gold diggers.

mrapathy2000
July 15, 2004, 07:00 AM
suprised more of this has not been reported. soldiers of fortune looking for heads in exchange for dead presidents and little terrorist ass kicking.

Leatherneck
July 15, 2004, 09:10 AM
LDHS Bounty Hunters.

TC
TFL Survivor

Fred Fuller
July 15, 2004, 10:48 AM
That name again...

lpl/nc
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http://www.fayettevillenc.com/story.php?Template=news&Story=6446821

Published on: 2004-07-10
Pride, prison shadow Idema

By Greg Barnes
Staff writer

Jonathan Keith Idema sits in an Afghanistan prison, accused of abusing detained Afghans by hanging them by their feet.

Idema
Idema, a former Green Beret from Fayetteville, was charged this week along with two other Americans who allegedly posed as U.S. agents operating a makeshift prison in a house in Kabul. Some people think of Idema as a patriot intent on helping end terrorism. Others see him as a rogue and bitter felon who befriends a lot of people only to sue them later.

Idema's life is a long roller-coaster ride of fame and shame. He's pictured on the cover of a best-selling book. He has been featured on ''60 Minutes" and national talk shows.

He has also gone to prison for defrauding companies and has been found guilty of a long list of misdemeanors and traffic offenses.

And now comes this: allegations of posing as an American agent and abusing Afghans while America tries to heal from the prison-abuse scandal in Iraq.


Government's position

Shortly after Idema's capture, the U.S. government disavowed any association with Idema or the two other Americans arrested in Afghanistan.

''The U.S. government does not employ or sponsor these men,'' State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said this week.

The government's position is a reversal from 10 years ago, after Idema had just been convicted of cheating 60 businesses out of about $260,000.

Idema was about to go to prison when at least three high-ranking military officials fought to have him released until his sentencing.

''Keith is an honest, hard-working American vet of the highest order who deserves the trust of those who are appointed to enforce constitutional rights and laws of the American public,'' Army Master Sgt. Peter L. Conners wrote to U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle on May 18, 1994. ''I would like to add to the list of those asking for his presentencing release on appeal.''

That list included Timothy G. Connolly, then the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense.

''While others may find occasion to call his character into question, my experience with him over the last 10 years leads me to a different conclusion,'' Connolly wrote to Boyle. ''Keith Idema may be one of the last individuals for whom the phrase 'I give you my word' still has meaning. To Keith, honor is everything.''

The judge rejected their arguments. He had just been through months of court battles in which Idema's outbursts became common.

''All of the things you purport about what a wonderful patriot you are and what a singled-out person you are is pure fantasy," Boyle told Idema during a presentencing hearing in September 1994.


Psychological testing

Two months later, Boyle ordered Idema to undergo psychological testing. In late December, Idema was admitted to the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, where forensic evaluations were done in January and February, court records show.

Those evaluations concluded that Idema had no mental illness, but he suffered ''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,'' the records said.

In April 1995, having found Idema competent for sentencing, Boyle gave him a four-year prison term. Idema remained defiant.

"I would rather have gotten 20 years - damn right!" Idema said after the hearing. "Everyone would have known what a setup it was."

Idema grew up in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., about 85 miles north of New York City.

His father, 84-year-old H. John Idema, said his son was athletic, not in traditional sports such as basketball or football but in swimming and other endeavors.

Keith Idema, as he has been known most of his life, joined the Boy Scouts at an early age. The elder Idema said he believes his son earned the Eagle Scout badge.

In 1975, at age 18, Idema went off to join the Army. He went through basic training and jump school, then entered training with the 10th Special Forces Group.

Officials indicated that he remained in the Army three years before joining the 11th Special Forces Reserves Group near his New York home. In the 1980s, his father said, Idema formed his own company, an academy to train people in anti-terrorism techniques.

John Idema said his son trained different government services, including U.S. Customs agents. When President Reagan dedicated the Statue of Liberty in 1986, John Idema said, the government called on his son to help provide security.


'Intensely American'

John Idema thinks of his son as a true American patriot. He does not think he would hang people upside down by their feet to intentionally harm them. He thinks his son was trying to extract information.

''He's a very good and intensely American boy,'' John Idema said. ''He thinks of nothing else but that. Really, what he is is a dedicated American, and we should have a few more of them.''

That opinion is not universal.

Shortly after Idema got out of prison in 1998, he started trying to exonerate retired Army Col. George Marecek, who was accused of murdering his wife.

Idema began working with Gary Scurka, a free-lance journalist being paid by CBS News to cover the Marecek case. By the time Marecek had been found guilty, Idema had begun to make a bigger name for himself.

One associate who declined to be identified called Idema a great self-promoter. It was not meant as an endearment.

About the same time as the Marecek trial, Idema filed a lawsuit against two men who had managed his businesses while he was in prison. Idema said the men improperly sold his personal belongings.

One of Idema's businesses, Special Operations Exposition and Trade Show Inc., set up conventions for military equipment suppliers. The other, Idema Combat Systems, made apparel for special operations soldiers.

Idema represented himself in the civil trial and won a $1.8million judgment from one of the property managers.

''Can you believe it? We rocked the world,'' Idema told friends and family members after the verdict. ''What do you think now, Dad? Could I play in the sandbox with the other attorneys?''

One of the opposing lawyers, Jack Carter, said Idema won because Carter's client got caught in a lie and because Idema played on the jury's sentiment.

Carter said that during the trial, Idema spread out Special Forces keepsakes before the jury. He told the jury that the men he was suing had sold many of the things he cherished.

Among the items that Idema claimed to have saved, Carter said, was a dress-green Army uniform with Special Forces insignias and a patch with the sergeant first class designation. Carter said Idema never made it past sergeant.

''He is not the Special Forces hero that he paints himself to be,'' Carter said.

Mel Smith, head of the Special Forces Association, has almost nothing to say about Idema.

''He's not a member, and he never will be,'' Smith said.

The U.S. military takes a similar stance, saying anything Idema has done in Afghanistan was strictly on his own.


First trip

Idema first went to Afghanistan shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. J.S. Newton, then a Fayetteville Observer staff writer, wrote a story about Idema in November.

In it, a National Geographic reporter said Idema had helped save his life on the front lines with Afghanistan's Northern Alliance. The reporter, Gary Scurka, was the same person who had worked with Idema to try to prove Marecek's innocence. Scurka also worked with Idema during his civil trial.

In January 2002, Idema appeared on ''60 Minutes.'' The TV news magazine said Idema had provided it with seven hours of videotape showing how al-Qaida trains its recruits.

The news show called Idema a former Green Beret who said he went to Afghanistan as a civilian military adviser to the Northern Alliance and was with alliance fighters as they pushed toward Kabul.

A year later, Robin Moore, who wrote "The Green Berets'' and "The French Connection,'' came to Fayetteville to promote his new book, "The Hunt for Bin Laden: Task Force Dagger.''

The book was a nonfiction account of a group of paramilitary operatives trying to hunt down Osama bin Laden. The lead character, Jack, was patterned after the exploits of Jonathan Keith Idema, who is pictured on the book's cover.

Earlier this year, Idema filed a lawsuit against one of the book's other characters, Chris Thompson, who helped promote the book. Among other things, Idema alleges slander, defamation, damage to property and infliction of emotional and mental stress.

The lawsuit is one of many that Idema has filed since winning his civil case in 2001. He now always represents himself.

Cumberland County Superior Court clerks no longer file Idema's court records with thousands upon thousands of others.

Instead, a clear red folder rests is in the place where Idema's records should be filed numerically. The folder says Idema's records cannot be viewed without a clerk present.

Idema has his own file drawer, filled with his many lawsuits. Why a separate file? A clerk just shook her head. ''To be safe,'' she said.

Staff writer Greg Barnes can be reached at barnesg@fayettevillenc.com or 486-3525.

Bridger
July 15, 2004, 01:59 PM
This guy definately has something strange about him.

I know about him through paintball, his Idema Comabt Systems in the 80s made vests for stock class paintballers, to carry 10 round tubes and 12 grams and such.

Interesting, to say the least.

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