Adonis Diaries

Archive for January 30th, 2014

Extremist Jihadists freed from Syria prison at the onset of uprising in 2011

People in the Levant knew since 2011 that the regime of Bashar Assad freed over 1,000 Islamists from prisons, without any preconditions, in order for them to start the armed struggle.

Anyone who reads Arabic could find all these information from the dozens published books on the Syrian uprising and the brutality of the regime before and after the revolution.

Let’s hear what Phil Sands , Justin Vela and Suha Maayeh have to say, and possibly more details and other pieces of intelligence…

Phil Sands , Justin Vela and Suha Maayeh published this January 21, 2014

ISTANBUL / AMMAN // Syrian intelligence agencies released Islamist militants from prison to deliberately subvert a peaceful uprising and ignite a violent rebellion, according to a former regime security official.

The claim comes ahead of peace talks in Switzerland on Wednesday, which President Bashar Al Assad’s government said should “fight terrorism”, a term he uses to describe all armed opposition groups.

But according to the former security officer it was the regime that intentionally exacerbated radicalism shortly after the uprising began in March 2011 in order to make itself the least bad choice for the international community and Syrians alike.

“The regime did not just open the door to the prisons and let these extremists out, it facilitated them in their work, in their creation of armed brigades,” said the former member of Syria’s Military Intelligence Directorate, one of more than a dozen of Syria’s secretive intelligence agencies.

Assad regime set free extremists from prison to fire up trouble during peaceful uprising

The former officer said most of the releases happened over a period of four months up until October 2011 and that the project was overseen by the General Security Directorate, another of Syria’s widely feared security organisations and one of the most important.

Under pressure from opposition groups and the international community, the regime set free hundreds of detainees from jail in the first few months of the uprising as part of an amnesty.

But many political prisoners and protesters backing the peaceful uprising were kept in prison, while others, including known Islamist radicals and violent offenders, were quietly released.

Some former inmates of Saidnaya prison, a facility 50 km north of Damascus, went on to become prominent members of insurgent groups.

Zahran Aloush, commander of the Jaish Al Islam; Abdul Rahman Suweis of the Liwa al Haq; Hassan Aboud of Ahrar Al Sham; and Ahmad Aisa Al Sheikh, commander of Suqour Al Sham, were all held in regime jails prior to the uprising.

The commander of the powerful Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al Nusra, Abu Mohammad Al Jolani, is also rumoured to have been among those set free, although little is known about his true identity.

“Most of the important people in these extremist groups were in Saidnaya prison, not just Zahran Aloush. There were many of them and the regime let them go very deliberately,” the former intelligence officer said.

From the start of the uprising, the regime insisted it was facing an Islamist insurgency as a way of justifying its murderous response to overwhelmingly peaceful demands for political reforms.

To give that narrative credence and bolster support among the fearful religious minorities it depends on for support, as well as Syria’s moderate mainstream population, the regime sought to create instability inside Syria, including acts of violence by Sunni extremists, said the former intelligence officer. He spoke on condition of anonymity.

He is one of a small number of Alawite security officers who defected from the regime in protest at its tactics to break the uprising.

Although he left his position as head of a military intelligence unit in northern Syria in the summer of 2011, he remains in contact with some former colleagues and has not joined the opposition.

In fact, he believes Al Assad should remain in power as a preferable alternative to radical Islamist factions that have come to dominate the armed rebellion.

Groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and Jabhat Al Nusra have been infiltrated by Syria’s security forces, the former intelligence officer said, with regime personnel helping them wage war against other Islamic groups and, in some cases, even against Syrian regime forces.

“This regime is clever, no one on the outside will ever understand what goes on inside,” he said, describing a shadowy system of intelligence branches spying on each other, betraying one another, sometimes promoting attacks by armed rebels on other security branches – all in the name of serving the president.

The officer, who served for 12 years in military intelligence, including a long stint in Aleppo, said Syria’s security agencies played a key role in sending Islamist insurgents to Iraq to fight US forces following the 2003 invasion, with President Al Assad fearful Syria would be America’s next target.

Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital – now a ruined cityscape, smashed by artillery and airstrikes – was a key recruitment and transit hub for militants.

When the fighters returned to Syria, many were jailed or executed by the securty services, the former officer said, as the authorities sought to reign in extremists who, back on home turf, might pose a threat to the regime.

However, with the 2011 uprising against Bashar Al Assad refusing to die down after several months, the regime once again sought to exploit radical Islamists to make itself appear as a bastion of secular moderation.

“The regime wanted to tell the world it was fighting Al Qaeda but the revolution was peaceful in the beginning so it had to build an armed Islamic revolt. It was a specific, deliberate plan and it was easy to carry out.

“There were strong Islamic tendencies to the uprising so it just had to encourage them,” he said.

Another former regime official who has not joined the opposition agreed that there was a policy on the part of Mr Al Assad’s forces to create violence and terrorism to legitimise a crackdown on the opposition.

“You release a few people and you create the violence. It’s contagious,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Weapons were made available to radical elements of the opposition in key hotspots, including Deraa and Idlib, the former military intelligence officer said.

This is not something I heard rumours about, I actually heard the orders, I have seen it happening,” the officer said. “These orders came down from [Military Intelligence] headquarters Damascus.”

The officer remains angry about the strategy of stoking radicalism, saying it was a key reason why he left his post.

An incident in Jisr Al Shoughour, in northern Syria, in June 2011, proved decisive, after hearing higher ranked officers saying it was necessary to provoke sectarian bloodshed there, including the slaughter of fellow Alawite officers by Sunni rebels, in order to “serve the nation”.

“They [the regime] fed us nationalism but at the expense of our blood, they sold our blood to create Takfiris” he said, a reference to a radical Sunni ideology that regard Alawites as heretics who should be killed.

The claims of this officer could not be independently verified and he did not have documents supporting them.

Syria’s security branches have, overwhelmingly, remained fanatically loyal to the regime with each depending on the other for survival.

Some regime supporters admit former detainees have joined the insurgency, but say that was not the authorities’ intention and is, rather, the responsibility of international powers, which pushed Mr Al Assad to free all political prisoners, including Islamists.

In other cases, rebel fighters say they were radicalised by the routine torture practised in regime detention cells, with security service brutality boosting the appeal of extremist groups.

Islamic radicals are now a major participant on all sides of the Syrian conflict, with Sunni rebel groups battling one another as well as against Shiite militias fighting alongside the regime.

The increasingly sectarian proxy war, with Shiite Iran and the Sunni Arab Gulf states backing opposite sides, has killed in excess of 120,000 people, wounded hundreds of thousands more and forced upwards of 6 million Syrians to flee their homes.

It is a conflict that shows no sign of abating.

Opposition activists say about 1,500 inmates of Saidnaya, a major regime prison for Islamist militants, were freed by the Syrian government.

A former Saidnaya prisoner, jailed for three years but released before the uprising started, said many inmates went on to join armed rebel factions.

“Some of the important radical leaders [of armed groups] were in there including Jolani [the head of Jabhat Al Nusra], he said. “The Islamists were held in a separate wing of the prison but some of them like Aloush were famous. I didn’t see Jolani but people said he was in there,” the former detainee said.

Major General Fayez Dwairi, a former Jordanian military officer involved in Amman’s response to the growing crisis in Syria, said the Assad regime was directly involved in the growth of Islamic extremism.

“Many of the people who established Jabhat Al Nusra were captured by the regime in 2008 and were in prison. When the revolution started they were released on the advice of Syrian intelligence officers, who told Assad ‘they will do a good job for us. There are many disadvantages to letting them out, but there are more advantages because we will convince the world that we are facing Islamic terrorism’,” he said.

Maj Gen Dwairi said 46 leading members of Jabhat Al Nusra had been in Syrian regime custody, including its leader.

He also said Islamic groups had been infiltrated by Syrian intelligence agents.

A western security consultant, who has been involved in secret negotiations involving Jabhat Al Nusra, said senior figures involved with that group had been in Syrian prisons.

There have been other cases of the complex relationship between extremist militants and the regime. Some reports have said that after seizing oil fields in eastern Syria in 2012 Jabhat Al Nusra struck deals with the regime to transport the oil to the coast for export.

The former Syrian military intelligence officer said Mr Al Assad and his senior lieutenants had ruthlessly outmanoeuvred western and Arab states, dragging them into a regional sectarian war that, perversely, gave the regime better odds of survival than a peaceful uprising and gradual democratic change would have.

Western capitals now fear the Islamist-dominated opposition more than they do the regime, he said, making President Al Assad a potential ally rather than enemy.

“Syrian security opened the doors to the prisons, and they knew what would happen,” he said.

psands@thenational.ae

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(So far nothing new in this article, not even names of Syrian security officers)

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Are you an Adopted person? Watch your mouth…

There are lists of things NOT to say to a pregnant woman, and now suggested alternative to adoptive parents 

 posted this JANUARY 24, 2014 (selected as one of the hot posts)

Ten Things NOT to Say to Adoptive Parents.

A few days ago my 10 months pregnant friend at The Measured Mom posted a great list of things NOT to say to a pregnant woman, and politely suggest some alternatives. 

I laughed out loud reading some of them, remembering how many of them were said to me — and, shamefully, how many I have said to my pregnant friends, since I have forgotten what it’s like to walk around with another human being inside of you!

When I’m with my fellow adoptive girlfriends, you will often hear us say, “Oh, you won’t believe this one!” as we share the latest offensive thing someone has said to us.

But just as I’ve been guilty of saying, “You look like you’re ready to pop!” to my overdue pregnant friends without meaning to make them feel worse simply because I’ve only been pregnant once and have forgotten all about it, other well-meaning people say some of the things on this list simply because they’ve never adopted and don’t know what else to say…or not say.

So I collaborated with some other adoptive parents to come up with this following list:

tenthings

1. “Now you’ll get pregnant!”

Perhaps your friend is adopting because of infertility, but adoption is not a fertility treatment — and your friend is most certainly not adopting because she thinks, “THIS will do the trick!” When you say this, it can also make your friend feel as though you’re not excited about her adoption and view it as a “second choice”.

2. “He’s so lucky!”

Adopted kids are anything but lucky. They have experienced the loss of a first family and perhaps even the loss of their birth country and language. These kids don’t feel “lucky” to come to America — they are grieving the loss of their home and everything that is familiar. When you say this, it glosses over that loss. (Depend how old was the adopted kid, and whether he already speaks his native language and doesn’t miss the previous environment…)

3. “How much did he cost?”

Our child is not a car. If you really need to know this, Google it. (Girls less than 8 year-old are being sold/married for peanuts in the refugee camps)

4. “Can’t you just go and pick him up?”

Umm…no. Because that would be kidnapping.

I once saw someone make this comment when a girlfriend shared a post on Facebook about how much she was aching to hold her daughter in Congo. It took every ounce of self-restraint I had not to comment and say, “Because she wants her daughter to languish in an orphanage just a little while longer.”

Adoptions are a complicated business and they take time, and it’s not because we adoptive parents aren’t doing everything in our power to move things along.

5. “We’ve always wanted to adopt. But first we are going to have a few of our own.”

Along these same lines are “Do you have any real kids?” or “Is your daughter your own, or is she adopted, too?”

When you differentiate between kids who are adopted and not adopted, terms such as “biological” or “birth children” are the ones to use. (Why?)

When you distinguish our bio kids by calling them “your own” or “the real kids”, then you make it seem as though the adopted child is not truly part of our family.

6. “Why didn’t you adopt from America? There’s plenty of kids here that need homes.”

Yes, this is true — but we are not obligated to only adopt from our own country.

Should children from Ukraine/China/Ethiopia/Congo/etc. be disqualified simply because they aren’t from here (and have no one available in their birth country to parent them)? Adoption from ANYWHERE should be celebrated.

(Except Palestinian, Iraqi, Yemeni or Syrian kids…?)

7. “Don’t adopt from Ukraine. My neighbor’s second cousin’s uncle did, and their kids were totally messed up from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.”

What I mean by this is, when someone tells you she’s adopting, don’t share with her your adoption horror stories. Adoptive parents are required to go through adoption training. (And if they had no idea that training is needed?)

They are well aware of the challenges they may face and don’t need you to point them out.

(Is this article dedicated to highly educated and informed couples?)

8. “I totally know what you’re going through. I adopted a dog once.”

It’s not the same. I promise. (For the first 6 months it is the same)

9. “What happened to his real mom?”

 I’m his real mom. A better way to distinguish me from his first mom is to use the term “birth mom”, because when you say it this way it demeans the importance of my role in my child’s life.

And unless you are close friends with the person you’re asking this to, it’s best to respect the privacy of their child’s story and not even go there. You wouldn’t really approach a perfect stranger and ask her to share the details of her labor, would you?

10. “Are you worried he is going to have HIV/be retarded/be messed up/be black?” 

These are all things that have been said to my friends or myself. For real. I hope I don’t have to explain to you why they are offensive. (Do explain. Aren’t these problems very critical?)

But let’s end positively, shall we? Here’s a few things to try instead…

1. “You are so lucky to have him.”

An older lady once said this to me at the coop, and I promptly turned into a blubbering mess because I truly did feel grateful to have him. I so appreciated how she acknowledged that HE is the gift. (Like an iPhone or a cooking set?)

2. “Tell me about your son.”

Adoptive parents are dying to talk to you about the child they’re expecting. They want to tell you about the nursery/bedroom they’re getting ready and show you the latest picture.

But we don’t get to do that very often because we don’t have bulging bellies that give us away. And sometimes, people feel awkward around us so they don’t ask us about our kids. Ask us!  (Is he retarded/ messed up…?)

We are proud parents, and we want to tell you why!

3. “I’m throwing you a shower.”

Baby showers aren’t just for moms who are giving birth — or even for families who are adopting newborns.

Adoption is STRESSFUL in SO MANY INEXPLICABLE WAYS. Give your friend the chance to celebrate and feel like the expecting mom that she is! 

4. “You are all in my prayers.”

This old stand by is a good one. Adoptive children are dealing with grief and trauma, people. Our families need your prayers to heal from this! (What kinds of prayers? Reciting from a Book?)

5. “You are doing a great job.”

Adoptive parents often feel guilty and beat themselves up. Parenting techniques that worked with our bio kids may not work for our adoptive kids, and there may be days where we feel as though we are complete failures.

I’ve had to come to terms with a lot of my own baggage and imperfections and accept that I’m not always in control in BIG WAYS since becoming an adoptive mm.

I can’t tell you how much it means to me when a friend says something along the lines of, “You’re doing such a wonderful job.” or “I can tell how much he loves you.” (What does he know of how you are bringing up your adoptive kid?)

6. “I’m bringing you dinner.

This may be overlooked because your friend is adopting a five-year-old and it’s not as though she just delivered a baby. But….YOUR FRIEND IS ADOPTING A FIVE-YEAR-OLD.

Whether or not her family is growing by one newborn or one teenager, her family is growing and it is going to be chaotic for her. So bring her dinner. (Not once)

7. “Congratulations!”

We’re excited and it means a lot to us when you recognize that. (The good excitement?)

Okay, adoptive parents — what did I miss?

Is there anything that was jaw-droppingly offensive that someone said to you OR something someone said that really made your day? Share it in the comments!


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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