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Jack Idema, jailed for torturing Afghans, reportedly dies in Mexico

Posted by The Agonist on January 27th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Jay Price | Fayetteville | Jan 25

The (Raleigh) News & Observer – Jonathan Keith “Jack” Idema, the con man extraordinaire from Fayetteville who spent years in an Afghan prison for running a private jail and torture chamber while claiming to be a secret Pentagon operative, has reportedly died in Mexico.

His death at age 55 marks the end of perhaps the most colorful, unpleasant and self-dramatizing character to tread North Carolina soil since Blackbeard.

Idema was a former soldier who reinvented himself repeatedly as he ran cons from Fayetteville, N.C. to Uzbekistan. At various times he claimed to be a businessman, author, “superpatriot” terrorist hunter, drug and gun smuggler, bodyguard, security consultant, CIA paramilitary operator, Pentagon-backed special operator and, finally, charter boat captain.

The cause of death was complications from AIDS, according to local newspaper reports in Mexico and a former girlfriend, Penny Alessi, who was in contact with him until days before his death.

He apparently succumbed several days ago, but a U.S. State Department official in Washington said the government has not been able to confirm his death. A consulate official in Merida, Mexico, said the office is being careful because they’ve had trouble confirming his identity.

They are hardly the first.

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