Local News

Fayetteville Man At Center Of International Investigation

Posted July 12, 2004

— A Fayetteville man is at the center of another Afghani abuse case.

According to the military, Jonathan Idema was arrested with a "self-appointed" counter-terrorism group that has no connection to the U.S. military.

WRAL has crossed paths with the man in custody.

WRAL first met Jonathan Keith Idema last year while covering

a "Five on Your Side"

story. Idema's wife, Viktoria Runningwolf, and her pet hotel were at the center of a dispute over payment for a pet's injuries.

Idema is heard repeatedly interrupting his wife's interview.

Now, Idema is the center of an international investigation in Afghanistan.

Afghan authorities arrested him July 6 for running a makeshift prison where detainees may have been abused.

In the past, Idema has sold himself as an ex-Green Beret "special advisor" to Afghan forces. He was featured in a 2002 CBS 60 Minutes II report after he obtained an al-Qaida training video.

Afghan authorities said Idema is not working for them. The U.S. State Department said he is not employed by the U.S. military.

A look at Idema's criminal record in the U.S. raises more questions. He spent three years in federal prison on fraud charges, and he was ordered to repay $200,000 to a list of nearly 60 companies.

In January, the Highway Patrol arrested Idema in Wake County for impersonating a police officer.

Idema's wife told WRAL she wanted to talk about this case because she wanted the truth to be known. She said she was willing to set up a time and place for an interview but, since then, has since not returned WRAL's phone calls.

When WRAL went to her pet hotel on Monday, employees said she was not available.

Idema has attempted to sue Fox News, Dreamworks and the

Poughkeepsie Journal

for anything from defamation to copyright infringement.

Next week's

Time

magazine takes a closer look at his situation in Afghanistan. The article portrays Idema as someone either drawn by misguided patriotism or the "fat" reward of a $50 million bounty on Osama Bin Laden's head.

The Department of Defense, trying to track Idema's military history, was unable to provide that information Monday.

Idema is in Afghan custody. It is unclear what will happen to him next.

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