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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 August, 2004, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
US man made hoax execution video
Benjamin Vanderford at his home in San Francisco, 7 August 2004
Mr Vanderford said he had made the video at a friend's house
A man from San Francisco has admitted staging a hoax video that appeared to show him being beheaded in Iraq.

Benjamin Vanderford from San Francisco said he made the tape months ago as part of his campaign for local office, Associated Press news agency reports.

The video was reported to have been made by militants linked to top al-Qaeda suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Mr Zarqawi's group has released footage of hostage beheadings, but doubts were quickly expressed about this footage.

The dark images of the fake video showed a man dressed in a plain T-shirt, sitting on a chair with his hands behind his back.

Clip from the video
The man on the video urges a quick withdrawal from Iraq
"I have been offered for exchange for prisoners here in Iraq," he says.

"We need to leave this country right now. If we don't, everyone is gonna be killed in this way."

After that, a body is shown on the floor with a knife apparently cutting at the neck.

Mr Vanderford, 22, said he had taped the video at a friend's house using fake blood.

He told AP news agency he began distributing the video on the internet months ago to draw attention to his campaign to get elected as city supervisor. He failed to get elected, but said he wanted make a statement about how easily such videos can be faked.

The video was posted on a militant website and broadcast on Arab television on Saturday.

HOSTAGES KILLED
3 August: Turkish driver Murat Yuce shot dead
29 July: Pakistanis Azad Hussein Khan and Sajjad Naeem's dead bodies are shown on video
14 July: Georgi Lazov, 30, Bulgarian truck driver is beheaded
29 June: Keith Maupin, 20, US soldier is reportedly killed (not confirmed)
22 June: Kim Sun-il, 33, South Korean translator beheaded
11 May: Nick Berg, 26, US businessman beheaded
14 April: Fabrizio Quattrocchi, 36, Italian security guard shot dead
"It was part of a stunt, but no one noticed it up until now," Mr Vanderford said.

Mr Vanderford, who works at a bank, said he did not regret making the video.

"I see how it could be considered disrespectful. But I think people, if they look at it, will understand two other big issues it brings up," he told AP.

"One - how easily these types of videos can be faked. Two - how easily the press can be tricked into thinking the videos are real."

Iraqi militants have seized scores of foreign hostages, usually demanding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.

An American, a South Korean and a third man, said to be a Bulgarian, have been shown on videos being beheaded.

On Saturday, a video was released threatening a Turkish lorry driver with beheading if his company did not stop work in Iraq within 48 hours.

Within hours, the company, Atahan Lojistik, released a statement saying the company was pulling out of Iraq.

Earlier this week the country's truckers' association ended deliveries into Iraq following the killing of a Turkish hostage, Murat Yuce. A recording claimed by Zarqawi's men showed the hostage being shot in the head three times.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Benjamin Vanderford who staged the hoax video
"I can see how it could be considered disrespectful"



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