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?

This entry was posted in Consumer Alert!, SF History and Lore, Unconventional Warfare on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

11 thoughts on “Keith aka “Jack” Idema Reported Dead


The end of a long sad story…

Hognose Post author

Wrong answer, Idema-fanchild. I’ve never spoken to anyone from the New York Times, and I wasn’t Robberson’s source, as I don’t know him either (I did read his bit about Idema in SW Asia. Alcoholism, drugs, guns, immaturity. Sounds like the Keith I knew). The chow theft is not a lie, three members of his Phase I class reported it and the cadre seriously considered shit-canning him. They were under pressure to get a certain percentage of people through, and figured his character would either measure up, or not, in actual SF service. It didn’t. He left each of his two Sf assignments in disgrace (and later wore badges he never earned and claimed assignments he never had). He was bounced off three or four ODAs in 10th and finally sent to Signal Company to be babysat until ETS (he was barred from reenlistment for misconduct). He was ejected from B Co !/11th SFG(A) (USAR) for misconduct also.

Good luck finding anyone who served in SF around Keith (or “Jack” as he later renamed himself) that defends him. Amazing that even now he still has his internet penpals and various credulous bimbos who suffer with the STDs that were his lasting legacy. World’s a better place with him dead. His conduct was bad for the USA and damaging to the military units and government agencies with which he falsely claimed connection.

By the way, unlike Idema, I am an honorably retired veteran of SF. I am a combat veteran of OEF – also unlike Idema. He was a narcissistic brute, unfit to wear the uniform of this country. May he rot in hell.


It’s too bad you don’t recognize that the individual above who left not even a whole sentence in a comment- is not me.

Despite your weird hatred and venom toward Idema, some of us know he is an American hero who was hung out to dry repeatedly over the years, and convicted in the press with lie after lie. That individual above left a true comment. For some of us, and obviously not you- it is the end of a sad story. I know you think I’m the only admirer he had in the world, but it shows how small your world really is.

Nor do we appreciate reading the lies that people like you continue to repeat because you have a willful blindness for the important facts. There are a number of people who loved the man, and I have been in touch with many of them, including family members. (yes, contrary to news reports and blogger lies, they did what needed to be done)…and I appreciated him for what he did for our country. I know trailer trash like you tend to get your jollies thinking about sordid relationships because they’re probably the kind you have.

The man’s gone, may he rest in peace and be remembered as he was – not as what you portray him to be.

Hognose Post author

He has many admirers, what they have in common is that they have heard or read his tales of stories. but they did not serve in SF and in the units he did. I did. I was a few months behind his expulsion and know literally dozens of men who served with him, none of which has a good word. I also later interacted with him on a couple of things, including his so-called attempt to save George Marecek (which turned out to be all about publicity for Idema). I was one of the people he sent his message looking for SF guys to go with him to Afghanistan. Two of us used our channels to determine he had no official sanction whatsoever, and of course, we were about to go ourselves in the unit, which we could not tell him.

In the end, he was a scumbag. Believe me, he is remembered as he was — a self serving scumbag who fooled a lot of patriotic people, who usually wound up ripped off, before his end stage of giving them AIDS.

That’s not what you admire. What you admire is your image of Idema. Did you ever meet him? Did you, poor girl, ever depend on him for anything? No, because everyone who did speaks ill of him.


Here’s a real SF guy who was actually there and commented on one of the blogs for the blogburst:

What a fantastic point of view. What a great blog about a true American hero, as are all the men with him. I am in Afghanistan, my third tour here, and most of us here know the real story and this is damn close to it. If people one day find out the real story this guy will be standing in the White House with Bush kissing his ass, as he well deserves.

If they had not done what they did, if Jack had not ignored orders, if Jack had not saved Minister Qanouni’s life and had not stopped the gas tankers headed into Bagram, then you would not only have had hundreds of American soldiers dead in flames, just like Beirut, but you would have had a civil war between the North and South in Afghanistan and the American bodycount here would have made Iraq look like a picnic. I don’t know how many guys on my team would have been dead, but no doubt many.

Jack and his guys did a great service to America and Afghanistan, and they should be getting medals not screwed with by the US State Department. My wife sent us the Fox show 24 a few weeks ago on DVD. We were all watching it one night and my team medic turned around and said, “boss, who’s this remind you of?” and my intel sergeant (“military intel”- an oxymoron) said, “yeah, but the difference is that this fucking 24 guy is fantasy.”

That turned into a dissertation on the real guy, Jack Idema, and that turned into a discussion on busting him out. I bet there are a whole pack of operators out there thinking about taking him out with or without anyone’s “consent.” So maybe Congress needs to get their head out of their ass and do something before someone else does. Because let me end with this, ask any combat soldier that was in Afghanistan in 2004 when this went down, and they will tell you that Jack was doing everyday what guys like us were designed and built for- taking out terrorists.

Posted by: sfops2kabul at November 2, 2005 08:55 AM

Hognose Post author

Thanks for your comments, and your patriotism and your loyalty — even your misplaced loyalty, in this case — are admirable personality traits.

In 2004, his wanted poster was posted in the CJSOTF in Afghanistan. And the CJSOTF wasn’t in Kabul. I’m pretty sure the SF-initiated ANA training effort at KMTC had been handed off to other US forces by that time, although there might have been coalition support teams with NORSOF or somebody, but the SF war didn’t run from Kabul, but from two other places.

He also seems unaware that for SF, the “American body count” was always higher in Afghanistan than Iraq. (This was definitely true in 2004, at which time most of us could name every name).

And the dramatic and vainglorious verbiage, casual profanity in written commo, and reference to hollywood characters, doesn’t ring like an SF guy to me, a “quiet professional”. It’s at about a sixth grade level, I think. It actually sounds more like Keith (as I knew him) himself. But hey, it could be real. You can be SF and be all ate up. Idema, case in point.

He shouldn’t have passed SFQC but there were times they bent the standard, so he squeaked through. But was, officially, SF Qualified. Like Katie Wilder, actually. But that’s hardly fair to Miss Wilder, because she never went on to bring discredit on the SF Regiment.

I don’t know why he was the way he was. I think he was trying to outdo his father who (according to him, anyway; now that I think about it I have no independent source of this information) was a genuine hero in the Marines in World War II. Anyway, that’s the story he told in 10th and 11th groups and to the people he knew from there. The bottom line with him was always unfulfilled potential. He could have been as great as he tried to short-cut people into believing he was, but he didn’t have the integrity.


Thank you for this story. It’s time the truth comes out about Jack Idema & his followers. He has started his own epidemic of AIDS in Bacalar/Chetumal, Mexico and sadly that is his legacy.

renee boyette

keith idema is not the best person i have incountered, however how dare anyone put down what he has done!!! I went to fort brag with him and I know first hand that he was acolades for his performence in rescuing POWs in a brazen attack on a pow prison in thailand/cambodia>>>>>> he was also instrumental in the movie the Peacemaker>>> yes I know he is not the best of people however, do not discount what he has done!!!

Hognose Post author

I’m afraid that Idema was not honest with you. (Or anybody else, but I suppose you care most about you). He never rescued any POWs from anywhere. (In fact, while some POWs in the Vietnam War escaped, no US POW was successfully rescued, despite lots and lots of effort. Find a book called Bright Light for the declassified story).

He did sue for credit for the Peacemaker, which he had nothing to do with, but claimed was based on his life. He lost the suit in summary judgment, which is when the judge says that you don’t have a case.