Sunday, November 28, 2004

Idema: remember, hustlers don't change

The Sindy reports on our old friend, Jonathan/Kenneth/Jack Idema, the man who was arrested in Afghanistan for running his own jail. Idema, as previously blogged, claims to have been working for the US government. When apprehended, apart from the two men hanging by their ankles from the roof, he was surrounded by a weird entourage who he claimed were making a film about him. A little research into his background showed that he was always making a film, rather in the style of the Private Eye cartoon with the two writers ("I'm writing a book." "Neither am I.."). He attempted to sue George Clooney for supposedly basing The Peacemaker on his own heroic exploits. Exactly how heroic is doubtful - despite his boasting of being "the craziest Green Beret in the army", his real role was considerably less hoooooooyah. In fact, as I previously reported, he was a quartermaster for the reservist 11th Special Forces Group, a job that didn't actually require him to pass Special Forces selection although no doubt he was able to tell his marks that he was a Green Beret. Later he owned a business selling army webbing, chest-rigs and the like.

In jail, his Hollywood obsession apparently continues. He told the Indy's Nick Meo that he'd recruited an agent to pitch his life story, and that he was about to complete writing the script. One hopes the agent got paid in advance, because his film project has been "nearly finished" since 2001 and in my view is nothing but a way of getting people to fund him. Like all the best fraudsters, though, his spiel is based on a certain degree of truth. When the Pentagon is willing to deal with the Viktor Bouts and Ahmed Chalabis of this world, his claims are far more credible. The fact that responsible persons at Bagram accepted a prisoner from his group shows at least that bizarre things are going on there, but not necessarily that they approved of him. (After all, if you were in the guard commander's shoes and a bunch of random gunmen appeared with a terrified prisoner and a lot of overexcited superspook talk, would you really leave him to their tender mercies? Even if you didn't care about his fate it would certainly be a matter demanding urgent investigation.) The fact that they "accepted" the prisoner without arresting Idema, though, suggests that enough parallel-network stuff was going on that his claims weren't entirely unbelievable.

I don't for a moment believe, though, that he's the real thing. The Pentagon (or whoever) would never have confided such a mission to someone who spends his free time suing film stars and having himself idolised by a camarilla of cameramen. It's called a "secret service" for a reason. His comfortable captivity, I suspect, is more due to his skills as a plausible talker than anything else.

In fact, reviewing my previous coverage of Idema, I see that I'd forgotten just how Walter Mittyish he really is. We're looking at a man who claims he took his pet dog on combat parachute jumps (in his spare time from stacking blankets in the stores presumably).

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