08/08/2004, 00.00
iraq - usa
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US man made hoax execution video

San Francisco (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A video aired Saturday that purportedly showed an American being decapitated in Iraq was a hoax. Benjamin Vanderford from San Francisco said he made the tape months ago as part of his campaign for local office, Associated Press news agency reports.

The video was reported to have been made by militants linked to top al-Qaeda suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The video was then posted on a militant website and broadcast on Arab television on Saturday.

Mr Zarqawi's group has released footage of hostage beheadings, but doubts were quickly expressed about this footage.

Mr Vanderford, 22, said he had taped the video at a friend's house using fake blood. Vanderford said he spliced images he took from a Hamas Web site showing mutilated bodies. He later edited the 55- second video to downgrade the quality so it would look similar to beheading tapes distributed since the war in Iraq began.

Mr Vanderford, who works at a bank, said he did not regret making the video.

"I see how it could be considered disrespectful. But I think people, if they look at it, will understand two other big issues it brings up," he told AP.

"One - how easily these types of videos can be faked. Two - how easily the press can be tricked into thinking the videos are real."

On Saturday, a video was released threatening a Turkish lorry driver with beheading if his company did not stop work in Iraq within 48 hours.

Within hours, the company, Atahan Lojistik, released a statement saying the company was pulling out of Iraq.

Earlier this week the country's truckers' association ended deliveries into Iraq following the killing of a Turkish hostage, Murat Yuce. A recording claimed by Zarqawi's men showed the hostage being shot in the head three times.

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