Abdul-Jabbar’s Story

Destroyed houses in Killi

by M. B. Awan

The village of Killi lies in the north-west of Syria, near the Turkish border and has been free from the control of the Assad regime for well over a year. The overwhelming first impression gained from Killi and its’ people is that of euphoria over being free, symbolised by the nightly demonstrations which occur after the night prayers (taraweeh) in Ramadan. It was on one jubilant night after those demonstrations that the dark, human side to the price of freedom the people of Syria have and are having to pay was demonstrated to me by a brave and remarkable young man, Abdul Jabbar Abdul Kareem.

 

I was invited by a local teacher, whom had become a close friend of mine to his Uncle’s house. The aforementioned uncle had been imprisoned and tortured by Hafiz al-Assad, Bashar’s father in 1982 and his son had just been released by the Assad regime earlier that evening. A large crowd of locals had gathered in order to congratulate the family and hear the young man, Abdul Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s story. Abdul Jabbar looked like the average twenty-something that you would meet in any part of the world. He spoke about how they took him and tortured him. After most of the significant members of the gathering had left, I was granted an interview.

 

Abdul Jabbar, somewhat atypically for a victim of torture, was in good spirits and was remarkably composed when explaining what happened:

“I am a resident in Kelly and someone (probably in his place of work) informed the government about me, spreading lies, such that I was a terrorist, etc. I travel to Aleppo for work on a daily basis, so one day several months ago I was stopped at a checkpoint when my details came up on a wanted list. The army immediately seized and began to beat me, accusing me of being a terrorist; no questions were asked. I was then arrested and taken to a Military Security facility in Aleppo.”

 

There they kept him for 12 days. He was interrogated and tortured there for 1 hour, beaten, verbally abused (they cursed Allah, his God and his religion) and accused him of all sorts of crimes: that he was a terrorist, that he was a violent member of the revolution. He told the truth, despite being tortured, that he was innocent of everything he was accused of. After that he was transferred to an even worse stage of torture in Idlib (one of the main cities in the north of Syria), which all seemed to be planned to break him, in order to get him admit some crimes so they could torture him further. Once inside the military interrogation facility in Idlib, the torture and the conditions were far worse as was evident from the indignation in his face as he recounted this part of the story. Here he stayed for approximately 17 days (Abdul Jabbar is not exactly sure, because he didn’t see sunlight during this time). Two of those days were spent in a 1-metre square cell with four men. General population was little better; in dungeon like conditions; a room approximately 50 metres squared with 110 people inside. There was no natural light, one toilet and no running water. They were given water and bread twice a day. Fleas, lice and skin irritation were rampant due to the unhygienic conditions. He was blindfolded and led out for interrogation twice for 2-hour periods. The first time an officer in the army was present and the placed him in a reverse hanging position and accused him of various crimes (which he denied). The police then proceeded to beat him, verbally abuse his God, his family (mother, wife, daughters, sisters, etc.) and then let him hang in a painful stress position, while drinking alcohol and mocking him. This happened twice, although the second one seemed to consist mostly of a beating (he showed me where his hands had bled due to the pressure of the cuffs applied to him). Eventually, he was released when they determined that they had no evidence of any crime.

 

Even though he was an active participant of a truly popular revolution before his most recent dose of the Assad regime’s concept of justice, he is now even more determined to aid a revolution, which seeks to free the Syrian people from the shackles of a tyrant who has terrorised his population in the vein of his father since he took office in 2000.

Advertisements

The Rebel Alliance reopens Ghutah

Interesting article: by the way Ghutah is apparently the location of the Second Coming of Christ!

Free Syrian Army fighters return fire after what they say was during clashes with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor May 13, 2013. REUTERS-Khalil Ashawi
Free Syrian Army fighters return fire after what they say was during clashes with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor May 13, 2013. REUTERS-Khalil Ashawi

Free Syrian Army fighters return fire after what they say was during clashes with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor May 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Khalil Ashawi

By Mariam Karouny

BEIRUT | Tue May 14, 2013 7:55pm EDT

(Reuters) – Syrian rebels including the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front have counter-attacked east of Damascus to retake a town that served as a conduit for arms from Jordan into the capital before it was seized by government forces last month, rebel sources said.

The rebels’ struggle to end four decades of Assad family rule has been complicated in part by internal divisions along ideological and political lines, as well as a shortage of heavy weaponry that could decisively turn the tide of conflict.

But in a rare move, brigades operating in Ghouta, a largely agricultural region on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, have united under one command to wrest back the town of Otaiba, two miles northeast of Damascus international airport.

“This is a huge target no brigade can deliver on its own, even al-Nusra cannot do it alone, so we all agreed to unite to retake it,” said a commander whose brigade is one of the 23 taking part in the battle.

“With God’s will this will be a decisive battle in rural Damascus that will stop the advance of the regime army and reopen the supply route.”

Brigades from the Western-backed rebel General Command and Islamist units joined forces over the weekend and pledged to share weapons and fighters. They took as their flag a white banner with the Muslim declaration of faith: “There is no god but God; Mohammad is God’s prophet”.

“We are fighting for the same goal and that is to topple Assad – so why shouldn’t we unite?” said a commander from an Islamist brigade involved in the battle.

Government forces have regained the initiative in the past few weeks, pushing rebels from areas close to central Damascus.

CHASTENED BY BATTLEFIELD SETBACK

Rebels said they wanted to take advantage of the unusual unity among brigades in the latest campaign – named Al Furqaan after a chapter in the Koran – to press on to Damascus airport.

The bloc of brigades was agreed only for the current battle, the rebels said, but it was driven by a heavy setback last month when their feuding and failure to reinforce local fighters allowed government forces to advance.

“How could they allow the loss of their supply line? How could they all just sit there and watch the regime throttling their lungs?” said a rebel from Otaiba. “Now they are paying the price – some shipments that were delivered earlier are stuck and need a path so they have to open the route.”

In addition to al-Nusra Front, Islamic groups like the powerful Liwaa al-Islam, Liwaa Martyrs of Douma and Ossoud al-Allah are also in the union under the command of Abu Salah Taha, head of the Martyrs of Douma.

The agreement signed by the brigades commits them not to pull out of battle or hold back their weapons, as some rebel groups have done in other provinces, and those who break the code are to be held to account.

“So far everyone is committed and everybody is using their weapons. They are all present on the front, which is 8 kilometers (5 miles) long,” said a fighter via Skype.

The Islamist commander said hopes were high in this offensive and that if it succeeded it would pave the way for rebels to work together in a national body.

“This is like a rehearsal for a wider cooperation across the country. If this is successful then all of us will consider forming a national army.”

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)