Jack Idema; ex-soldier ran notorious private Afghan jail

ahmad masood/reuters/2004
Jonathan Idema and a US comrade (left) in court.

RALEIGH, N.C. - Jonathan “Jack’’ Idema, a former Green Beret from North Carolina convicted of running a jail in Afghanistan where he tortured terrorism suspects, has died at 55.

Mr. Idema died of AIDS Saturday. No one claimed his body from the medical examiner’s office in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Mr. Idema had moved to Mexico after he was released from prison in Afghanistan in 2007, when he was pardoned by President Hamid Karzai.


Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mr. Idema traveled to Afghanistan, asserting that he was close to catching Osama bin Laden.

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In 2004, he returned with another former Fayetteville soldier and a videographer. They ran a private jail in which terrorism suspects were tortured for information. Although convicted, Mr. Idema denied wrongdoing.

He said that his operation was conceived with the knowledge and support of US and Afghan military authorities, which they denied, saying any connection was entirely in his imagination.