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UPDATED: 13:15, August 08, 2004
US man under investigation for making fake video tape of beheading
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US federal agents are investigating a computer expert in San Francisco, California, for making and distributing over the Internet a video tape of hoax American hostage beheading in Iraq.

Benjamin Vanderford, 22, was questioned by agents of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in San Francisco Saturday shortly after the hoax tape was broadcast on Arab TV.

LaRae Quy of FBI's San Francisco office said FBI learned that the tape was a hoax after it tried to verify whether Vanderford had, in fact, been beheaded after watching the TV broadcast.

"We will pursue any and all legal avenues for prosecution," said Quy. "At this point the matter is still under investigation."

In the low-quality video tape, which carried an Arabic title that reads as "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Slaughters an American," Vanderford sits on a chair, his hands behind his back, rocking back and forth, seemingly out of fear.

"We need to leave this country alone. We need to stop this occupation," he said on the video, adding that he had been offered for exchange with prisoners in Iraq. "Everyone's going to be killed this way," he added.

The tape then shows a hand with a knife cutting at the motionless man's neck, but it did not show al-Zarqawi and any other Islamic militants.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was an al Qaeda ally fighting US forces in Iraq and has claimed responsibility for the beheading of US businessman Nicholas Berg, South Korean translator Kim Sun-il and Bulgarian truck driver Georgi Lazov.

But Vanderford admitted to authorities that the blood was dye, the setting was a friend's garage, the Koran reading was a tape and the knife was held by a friend. He even purposefully blurred the video to make it seem real.

Vanderford, who is against the US invasion of Iraq, claimed that he first made the video for use in his race to the local city council earlier this year, but he posted on file-sharing Internet web sites in May after his political attempt failed.

The video was ignored for three months before it was posted on a Web site used by Islamic militants on Saturday.

Vanderford, who works as a video programmer at a local record label, said he posted the video in order to see how the world media would react and to see if they would be fooled. "It really illustrates the potential that this kind of thing would happen," he said.

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