By MICHAEL McDONOUGH, Associated Press Writer
LONDON - Amnesty International condemned the videotaped beheading in Iraq (news - web sites) of American civilian Nick Berg, an act which Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s office described Wednesday as "barbaric." But Iranian radio accused Western media of using the slaying to distract attention from the abuse of prisoners in Iraq.
Slideshow: Video Shows Beheading of American in Iraq
Images from the film showing Berg and his captors just before the killing dominated TV broadcasts and newspaper front pages in many countries.
A Kuwaiti newspaper ran a picture of one of the killers holding the severed head and some Greek TV stations showed the actual execution, although they obscured the head. The full video was posted on an al-Qaida-linked Web site.
"Such acts are unjustifiable under any circumstances and constitute a serious crime under international law," London-based human rights group Amnesty International said of the slaying. "Those responsible should be brought to justice in line with international standards."
The masked men who killed Berg claimed they were angered by coalition abuses of Iraqi prisoners. The video, posted Tuesday, showed them pushing Berg to the floor, severing his head and holding it up. His body was found near a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday, the same day he was beheaded, a U.S. official said.
The video bore the title "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi shown slaughtering an American," referring to an associate of Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) believed responsible for a wave of suicide bombings in Iraq.
Blair's official spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the killing as "a truly barbaric act," adding: "There is no justification for this kind of act in a civilized world."
In Greece, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the execution provoked a "sense of abhorrence. ... The Greek government condemns violence wherever it comes from."
Most Greek TV stations aired segments of the video, some stopping just before the beheading while others obscured the head during the execution.
Other broadcasters in Britain, Spain, China, Germany, Italy and Belgium showed images of Berg kneeling on the floor with his black-clad captors standing behind him.
"What follows is too cruel to show," said Belgium's VRT public broadcaster, which aired the video up to the point where Berg was thrown to the ground after one attacker took out a knife.
Germany's mass-circulation Bild newspaper ran a picture of Berg's captors holding up his severed head, eliciting condemnation from the German Journalists' Union.
"Naturally, newspapers have to report on this horrible act," union chairman Michael Konken said in a statement. "But the human slaughter recorded in the picture does not belong in the media."
Iranian radio accused the western media of showing pictures from the video for propaganda purposes.
"As a result, the issue of Iraqi prisoners' torture has been totally ignored by these media," the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran said.
"The American authorities too, have entered this news-making propaganda. These authorities have described the killing method of the American national as loathsome, and implicitly indicated that the American troops were justified to torture Iraqi prisoners."
Arab media reacted cautiously to the execution, with some newspapers conspicuously playing it down or even ignoring it.
Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, the big two satellite networks, aired edited snippets of the video. "The news story itself is strong enough," said Jihad Ballout, spokesman for Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television. "To show the actual beheading is out of the realm of decency."
Egypt's leading daily, Al-Ahram, ignored the beheading Wednesday. An editor said the news came too late for the paper to confirm the video's authenticity with the U.S. government.
Newspapers in Syria, where the government controls the press tightly, did not report the execution at all.
Five of Kuwait's seven dailies published the report with photographs on their front pages. The other two published brief reports. The Al-Siyassah daily ran two photos, including one with a masked militant holding up Berg's severed head.
As it should.
Nesflash to al Jazeera - womens panties on the head does NOT equate to beheading. Not the same thing, guys.
In fact, here in America having womens panties on your head can often be viewed as a sign of accomplishment.
Gee, thanks a heap.
I'm sure Al Qaeda is calling together a commission to investigate the barbarity of these few...
Yep. Their time is coming.
Heard anything from the Vatican? Maybe the Minister of Information is sick.