This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, May 14, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight: new questions about Nick Berg's brutal murder in Iraq and his possible connection to Iran. Let's get the breaking developments from Fox's Orlando Salinas, who's on the ground in Baghdad -- Orlando.
ORLANDO SALINAS, FOX CORRESPONDENT: Greta, John Ashcroft, America's top cop, says that Nick Berg had absolutely no ties to terrorism, had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever. Still, Greta, it has been an awfully tough day for Berg's family, who buried their son in West Chester, Pennsylvania. At that place, there was also a memorial today. Family and friends were there. Police were there to keep others out. They used metal detectors on everyone who was attending that memorial service.
Earlier this week, the world saw Berg grotesquely murdered on video by a man believed to be a top al Qaeda leader. We're learning that in late March, Berg was arrested in Mosul. Iraqi authorities said seeing someone like Berg in a place like Mosul, traveling on his own was unusual. So they stopped the guy, checked his passport, supposedly found a copy of the Quran and a book that authorities thought was anti-Semitic. Iraqi police at that point threw him in jail. FBI agents also questioned him. He was released a few days later. U.S. officials say they offered to fly this guy home for free, but they told him he was -- they told him he was in danger here in Iraq. Agents say that Berg wanted to leave on his own terms. They had no reason to hold him, so they let him walk out.
Here is the very strange tie. There was a very indirect and innocent link, U.S. officials say, between 9/11 al Qaeda terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui and Berg. Attorney General Ashcroft said back in '99, while Berg was attending the University of Oklahoma, someone with alleged ties to 9/11's Moussaoui used Berg's e-mail address, but Berg never knew it. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The suggestion that Mr. Berg was in some way involved in terrorist activity or may have been linked in some way involved in terrorist activity is a suggestion that we do not have any ability to support and we do not believe is a valid one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SALINAS: Today in Najaf, rebel cleric leader Muqtada al Sadr said, Look, America has already forgotten about the abused detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. He went on to say that he felt America was paying way too much attention to Nick Berg's execution -- Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Orlando, is there any evidence or any information that Nick Berg may have traveled to Iran or had any connections with the Iranians?
SALINAS: That's one other thing that we're also taking a look at. But if you look at the whole comment that was made by John Ashcroft today, you have to take a listen and really read into that, he's saying flat out there were no ties. But Greta, also take a look at this. It is an uncanny coincidence that, indeed, somehow someone was able to get on Nick Berg's e-mail address, and that one person who the FBI has said they cannot name yet or they have not been able to name yet, did they believe have some sort of tie to Zacarias Moussaoui. And once again, we saw on the tape, when Nick Berg was executed, the person who the FBI and federal authorities believe was responsible for that execution was a top al Qaeda lieutenant. And we also have to remember Zacarias Moussaoui, top al Qaeda connection, as well. It is uncanny, to say the least, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Orlando, thank you.
Tonight: New details are emerging about now a 9/11 terrorist got his hands on Nick Berg's e-mail. Will Bunch with "The Pennsylvania Daily News" joins us with those details.
Will, I'm still having a hard time understanding. What are the odds that someone would end up using Nick Berg's e-mail address in Oklahoma? Any more information on that?
WILLIAM BUNCH, "PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS": Well, the odds are certainly a lot worse than Smarty Jones winning the Preakness tomorrow. I mean, it's pretty long odds. The information that we have -- and we've spoken -- both from Nick's father and from one very close friend that we've interviewed for "The Philadelphia Daily News" is that -- they claimed it was all just an innocent kind of almost a naive college student type thing. The story is that he used to take a bus when he was a student at the University of Oklahoma to -- I guess, to an auxiliary campus in Norman and that somebody that he rode the bus with, he shared his laptop or used the laptop next to. And somehow, that person got ahold of his e-mail account number. And apparently, that's the person that John Ashcroft was referring to today.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Nick, there are two things that -- I mean, not Nick. I mean, Will, the two things that strike me as unusual about this. Maybe Nick was a very generous guy and let out -- leant his computer, as well as his e-mail address. But I think that's unusual. And the odds of Moussaoui is also strikingly unusual. But the other thing is, why did the attorney general, so early in an investigation, come out and make a statement about Nick Berg?
BUNCH: Well, our understanding is that this was investigated -- I want to say thoroughly, although I can't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) say to how thoroughly it was done -- but it's our understanding that this was very much checked out by the FBI about a year ago, and that at that time, they had given him a clearance. So this isn't -- in other words, this isn't something they've just been investigating for one day. Apparently, this is...
VAN SUSTEREN: Except for the fact that they suddenly show up at his parents' house with a lot of questions in the last four weeks. So I mean, they still have some questions about him.
BUNCH: Well, absolutely. Well, I mean -- I mean, think about it, Greta. I mean, here's a guy -- I mean, a year ago, he was just -- he was just a guy who was just some student whose e-mail address was used. Now he's a student whose e-mail address was used who happens to be wandering around Iraq. I mean, that just adds a degree of interest. I mean, gosh, you can't blame the FBI for wanting to check this guy out.
VAN SUSTEREN: No, I don't blame the FBI. I think it's a good idea to check it out. I just think it's unusual that the attorney general would so quickly, as we're trying to get more facts out, would come out and say everything is fine. But perhaps the attorney general knows a lot more than I do about this. Will, thank you.
Joining us on the phone in West Chester, Pennsylvania, is Reid Kanaley. He's from "The Philadelphia Inquirer." Also in West Chester is Sandy Bauers, with "The Philadelphia Inquirer."
Reid, obviously, a very tough time in that community today. Did you attend the memorial service, or at least go outside and see people assembling for it?
REID KANALEY, "PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER": Greta, reporters were not allowed to go into the service today. We were kept about 100, 150 yards away from the Keshir (ph) Israel Congregation synagogue here outside of West Chester while this service was going on this afternoon. It was viewed as an opportunity for the family to kind of gather with their own friends and extended family members and to celebrate the life of Nick Berg.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Reid, very tragic, and I certainly understand why the family and the church did it. But you know, when you think you have to have metal detectors at a memorial service, you know, what this has come to -- and I don't blame them from doing that, under the circumstances, do you?
KANALEY: Well, we didn't see metal detectors from the road, so I don't know how that went. But obviously, there was a security concern there for any number of reasons, and I don't blame them for having those things there.
VAN SUSTEREN: Sandy, you've spoken to the family. Tell me a little bit about the background of the family, what the father and mother and brother and sister do, for instance.
SANDY BAUERS, "PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER": I'm not sure of all that. They're just -- they just kept expressing to me their love for their son, and they wanted to go over details about his life and what a great person they thought he was.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did they ever indicate that they were worried that their son was going off to Iraq? He went off in December and then returned again in March and the war was going on?
BAUERS: Absolutely. They tried to talk him out of it. They were afraid for him. They didn't want him to go. The first time he came home, they were relieved. They thought, Oh, good, he's home now. He's safe. And then he said, I'm going back.
VAN SUSTEREN: So what drove him back, Sandy? I mean, what was -- what was so important to him to get back?
BAUERS: He thought he was helping the country. He thought he was helping rebuild it. He went there the first time and thought he saw some hopeful signs if he went back, he'd find work, be able to help fix some towers. And that was what he told them about why he was going back.
VAN SUSTEREN: Reid, is it a total altruistic journey that he was on, or was he a businessman trying to make a living?
KANALEY: Well, it's clear that he was trying to make a go of it with his company, inspecting or repairing and building communications towers. But I think there was an element, as described by his friends and family, of altruism in him. He went to -- he visited Africa and constructed or bought or took with him a brick-making machine to help a village rebuild itself. He had -- he had definite feelings of altruism and was -- felt good -- he was -- he just reached out to people. He befriended people wherever he went. It -- it seems pretty clear that he was just a good kid who went to the wrong place.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, you think about it, though, Reid, there's so many place in the world where people need help. He was in so many of those places, like Africa. So why -- why would he put himself in such a dangerous environment as an ongoing war?
KANALEY: Well, this -- this -- we might never know for sure what his -- what his motivation was for going to Iraq. But he had a -- he had an idea for building towers for communications systems that were based not on wired technology that we're -- that we use here in the U.S., for the most part, but on the wireless communications of the future. And he was -- he was convinced that he was going to play a part in taking that to other parts of the world, the third world.
VAN SUSTEREN: Sandy, we hear reports that when he was picked up by the Iraqi police, he had literature in his possession. I've heard one part that was Arabic, another I've heard was the Iranian language, Farsi. Do you know which one it is, No. 1? And No. 2, do you know if he spoke either of those languages?
BAUERS: I don't know that. I do know that his friends have said he was intensely curious about whatever country he visited and he was likely to have all sorts of material with him that would tell him about that country and the people who lived there, their language, what they were like, their culture. So I'm not sure his friends...
VAN SUSTEREN: But he -- but...
BAUERS: ... would have been surprised by anything he had.
VAN SUSTEREN: But if you're curious about it, you've still got to be able to communicate in the language. I mean, if you're curious about Iraq or Iran, I mean, you're going to carry -- you're going to carry literature in a language that you can read and write. So you know, I mean, it seems -- I heard last night that maybe he spoke some Arabic. Any information he ever studied Arabic or even -- at any of the schools that he went to, studied any foreign languages?
BAUERS: Not that I know. I know he spoke a little bit of Arabic, but possibly, it was from being there. From being in Africa, I know he spoke a little bit of Bantu and perhaps another languages. So he probably picked them up pretty quickly.
VAN SUSTEREN: Reid, your -- your newspaper's investigation showed -- proved that he never -- had never met Moussaoui?
KANALEY: Well, that's not part of the reporting that I've done. So I -- I don't feel prepared to speak on that.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, we're still -- we're still -- let me -- let me thank both of you. We're still looking into that question. Apparently, so far, the answer is, no, doesn't know Moussaoui. But thank you both very much.
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