Keith Idema, whom we’ve known for some decades, is reported dead. Idema is a former member of the 10th and 11th (Army Reserve) Special Forces Groups. He left both units under a cloud, which was how most of his relationships with humans and institutions ended. He died — if he is truly dead — alone, hiding from the law in Mexico, his reputation long ruined, suffering from diseases brought on by his own character deficiencies.
We could tell many tales of Idema, but will just tell two.
In the Special Forces Qualification Course, he was caught stealing food from teammates’ rucksacks, but managed to charm his way out of the normal dismissal for character problems. This is same kind of hollowness of character that led to his troubles in 10th and 11th Groups, and in many other places, and the same kind of manipulative charm gave him many a fresh start. That’s one. The second will take longer.
In late 2001, he journeyed on his own to Afghanistan, seeking Osama bin Laden, the reward, and above all celebrity. All the Special Forces vets he contacted declined to join him, but he picked up a TV produce and an impressionable young vet of the 82nd. He wound up giving interviews to Fox News and various newspapers, claiming he was a CIA agent (they’re actually CIA “officers,” and Idema was never one) and that he was a “Delta” operator (Idema was never a member of any special operations unit except the two groups mentioned above, both of which he left in disgrace with radioactive NCO evaluation reports).
Hot tip for the general public: in military special operations, failure is not a ticket to the next tier up.
On his return from this trip to Afghanistan, Idema befriended elderly, ill (with Parkinson’s), decent old writer Robin Moore, who had been given unprecedented access to the officers and men of Task Force Dagger, the men who liberated Afghanistan. Moore’s manuscript was finished, and Idema offered to review it. Instead, Idema rewrote it, making himself the hero of the piece (he had no connexion with Task Force Dagger or any other official effort, and made no contribution to the victory). He capped this fraud by deleting a reference to a charity that Moore wanted to support, and adding donation information for two nonexistent “charities” that paid into his own account. Nice.
But he still wasn’t done. Recently, taking his version of the manuscript, he reportedly put it in the Amazon Kindle store — minus any credit to Robin Moore, who has died. Meanwhile, the few who have seen the pre-Idema version of the manuscript cringe over the damage Idema did to the reputations of both Robin Moore and the 5th Special Forces Group . Fortunately, both have reputations which will allow them to be remembered with honor long after Idema is forgotten. And that’s the second window into Keith Idema’s character, in all its twists and turns.
The Fayetteville Observer.has the following report:
Notorious former Special Forces soldier Jonathan “Jack” Keith Idema has died at his home in Bacalar, Mexico, according to several sources.
Idema, a former Fayetteville resident who was sentenced to prison in Afghanistan on torture charges in 2004, had been sick with AIDS, said his former girlfriend, Penny Alesi of Connecticut.
Idema was a controversial figure whose high-profile antics were the subject of scorn by former soldiers, some of whom considered him a fraud. Those who knew him say Idema’s polarizing nature left him with few friends at the end.
There’s quite a bit more at the link, strangely balanced despite the reporter’s inability to find anyone who’d say an unqualified good word about Keith.
A Mexican news site also contains a story about Idema.”‘El Rambo”‘is dead: victim of AIDS, in his home in Bacalar; US embassy notified.”
For you Spanish speakers, a taste:
Víctima del Síndrome de Inmunodeficiencia Adquirida (Sida) falleció en su domicilio en Bacalar, Jonathan Keith “Jack” Idema, ex boina verde del ejército de Estados Unidos y caza recompensas, quien en agosto de 2010 fue denunciado por violencia intrafamiliar, violación, privación ilegal de la libertad personal y peligro para la salud de las personas, en agravio de su entonces pareja sentimental Penny Alesio, además de tener cuentas pendientes en su país por fraude. La muerte de esta persona fue reportada al número de emergencias 066, debido que sus amigos y familiares dejaron de frecuentarlo.
¿Inglés, por favor? (bear in mind, this is a weapons man’s translation. Well, OK, an 18F too).
Victim of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) perished in his home in Bacalar, Jonathan Keith “Jack” Idema, ex Green Beret in the US Army and bounty hunter, who was charged [in Mexico] in 2010 with domestic violence, rape, illegal deprivation of personal liberty and threatening harm to personal health, relating to his then-girlfriend Penny Alesi, in addition to outstanding charges of fraud in his own country. His death was reported in a call to 066 (note: Mexican “911”system) [some time after his passing], since his friends and relatives were no longer visiting him.
There is más at the website.
Not everybody tries to be balanced about it. An anti-Idema website is openly crowing (ignore the date on the site, it’s an error). And then they sing “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.” No, seriously. It starts off over the top and goes wherever “over the top” is from there:
The American traitor Jack Idema died this morning in Mexico from AIDS.
A news report from Mexico confirms that Idema is dead.
A confidential informant reports to this writer that Idema died a very painful death and was abandoned for the last week of his life by his Mexican lackeys when the money ran out.
The Casa Arabi resort that was owned by Idema, and where he died this morning, was said to have been looted and stripped of anything valuable, while Idema lay dying on a filthy blood stained bed vainly begging the looters for food, drink and pain killers.
Idema weighed 98 pounds at death, covered with purple lesions (Kaposi’s Sarcoma) and had pus sores (herpes) all over his genitals and thighs. It was his heroin supplier who found him dead in bed with vomit and feces around him.
It is not clear what happened to the body, but there are unconfirmed reports that it has been thrown into the street and was eaten by wild dogs.
There is much, much more there. Just keep scrolling. Most of this stuff can’t be true, but then again, just the stuff we know about him is bad enough.
In looking for an offsetting, pro-Idema slant, we were trying to find the blog of one of his last remaining supporters, a middle-aged Illinois woman blinded by a crush on him. She called her blog “Cao’s Blog,” but while the site is still there it redirects to a Russian malware site.
Update: “Cao” has a new blog, having given up on the old one. We believe this post — no words, just two music videos — is her farewell to Keith. One more person impressed by his charm, maybe the only one still believing at the end. It would be easy to pity her if one forgot the vitriol she piled on his victims for years and years.
Can you speak worse of a man, than that his passing leaves the world a better place?