Special Operations: September 6, 2004


A courtroom drama has been playing itself out in Kabul over the last few weeks, one  that is as sordid and fraught with twists and turns as the Scott Peterson case. It is the case of John Idema, AKA Saber Seven. Idema and two others are being tried for allegedly kidnapping and torturing Afghan citizens without sanction from the US or the Afghan governments.

Idema and his compatriots claim they were working with US and Afghan government sanction to hunt down Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists. He had previously claimed to have supplied information about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and other key terrorists to the FBI, but they were too slow to take advantage of the information and the terrorists were able to escape. It was at that point, last April, he decided to go to Afghanistan to make the capture himself. 

Idema claimed he had the blessing of Donald Rumsfeld and others, and that since his arrest, all his documentation was turned over to the US Embassy in Kabul. He also claims that Embassy personnel have removed key documents that prove US involvement. He stated that the FBI had abandoned him because of the allegations of torture.

Idema and his associates were arrested in July for kidnapping and torturing Afghan citizens in a safe house in Kabul. They claimed they had arrested suspects and were detaining and interrogating them before turning them over to authorities.

The situation is complicated because Idema had previously turned over one suspect to US forces, and had assistance on at least two raids by Afghan or ISAF security personnel. When asked about this, Minister Yunis Qanooni said that he had been approached by Idema and was led to believe his credentials were legitimate, so he sent a small security group on one raid. Idemas group also had video of Minister Qanooni welcoming Idema and offering his support.

Idema is representing himself at the trial. The trial, to date, has been a rather chaotic affair, with Idema grandstanding and questionable actions by the judge and prosecutor. The trial is currently in recess, awaiting the selection of a lawyer for one of the other defendants. 

Idema served six years in the US Army. He was later convicted of defrauding investors in a fake company and served 3 years in prison. He also brought a lawsuit against Steven Spielberg, claiming that the Special Forces operative played by George Clooney in the movie The Peacemaker was patterned after him. The judge dismissed Idemas lawsuit and ordered him to pay over $250,000 in legal fees.


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