Sunday, May 13, 2018

How a protester became a terrorist in Syria...

Hat tip to Bayou Man Blog via The BBC...
[Khaled] told the BBC [that], when the Syrian revolution drew its first breaths in 2011 he was a man of peace, "a bit religious, but not too strict", with a job organising pilgrimages.

"It was an amazing feeling of freedom mixed with fear of the regime," he says, recalling the first day he joined the anti-government protests.

"We felt that we were doing something to help our country, to bring freedom and to be able to choose a president other than Assad. We were a small group, no more than 25-30 people."

Khaled says no-one thought about taking weapons to the early protests - "we didn't have the courage for that", but the security forces arrested and beat people nonetheless.

One day, it was him they detained.

"They took me from my house to the Criminal Security Department, then to other departments. Political Security, State Security... and then to the Central Prison where I stayed for a month before they released me.

"By the time I entered the Central Prison I couldn't walk, and couldn't sleep because of my backache."

Khaled says his most barbaric abuser was a guard at the Criminal Security Department who forced him to kneel before a picture of President Assad, saying: "Your god will die, and he will not die. God dies, and Assad endures."

"His shift was every other day, and when it came I knew I would be tortured.

"He used to hang me from my arms with chains to the ceiling. He would force me to strip, then put me on 'the flying carpet' and whip my back. He would tell me: 'I hate you, I hate you, I want to you to die. I hope you die at my hands.'

"I left his prison paralysed, and when they moved me to the Central Prison inmates were crying when they saw me. They brought me in on a stretcher.

"I decided that if God saved me I would kill him wherever he goes. Even if he went to Damascus, I would kill him."

When he was freed from prison, Khaled took up arms against the government. He says he "helped" 35 Syrian army soldiers to defect from the 17th Reserve Division, which was stationed in the country's north-east.

Some of them he kidnapped, selling their possessions to make money for guns.

Sometimes, he says, he joined forces with attractive women to lure "notorious individuals who hurt protesters" with offers of marriage. He spared their lives, but forced them to make defection videos so they could never again serve President Assad. For his first hostage, the ransom was set at 15 Kalashnikovs, or their value in cash.

One man received no such mercy: the guard who tormented Khaled.

"I asked people about [the guard] who worked at the Criminal Security Department until I found him. We followed him home, and took him.

"He told me something that I reminded him of later. When I was in prison, he told me: 'If you leave this prison alive and you manage to capture me, do not have mercy on me' - and that's what I did.

"I took him to a farm near the Central Prison which was a liberated area. I cut off his hand with a butcher's knife. I pulled out his tongue and cut it with scissors. And still I wasn't satisfied.

"I killed him when he begged for it. I came for revenge, so I wasn't afraid.

"Despite all the torture methods I used with him, I don't feel regret or sorrow. On the contrary; if he came back to life again right now I would do the same.

"If there had been an authority to complain to, to say he beats and humiliates prisoners, I wouldn't have done this to him. But there was no-one to complain to and no state to stop him."

Khaled had lost his faith in the revolution. His focus became the daily battle for his own survival. And he would soon find an even darker role in Syria's savage conflict - as an assassin for the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).
Story here.

Gotta part company with Bayou Man on his summation of this otherwise excellent post.

He labeled atrocities that he witnessed in S. Africa but didn't cover how those acts led good men to go bad.

I want to pivot back to that specifically.

In particular I want to focus on how economic circumstances can cause good guys to go bad...or at the very least become hardened to the suffering of others.

What do I mean?

Think about the financial crisis that wiped out so many people.  Think about those people that worked hard, played by the rules and lost homes, jobs, loved ones etc...

Could it be that those people could be on the same path as the guy above?

Does that explain some of the random acts of violence we see?  Some of the strife?

What I do know is that economic circumstances led to the rise of Hitler.  The feeling of oppression has led to the rise of violent resistance movements in many countries to INCLUDE S. Africa.

Oppression in any form can and will lead to violence.  Until leadership makes moves to deal with underlying conditions then there can be no victory least in the way we now wage war.

You just can't outlast an insurgency, neither can you halfway support it and achieve victory.

Long short?

We're not waging war in Syria.  Neither are the Russians.  We're simply engaged in attrition warfare without end on a small scale.  The guy above went from protester to terrorist and is now simply staying alive by any means necessary.  How do you make peace with him?  How does he make peace with his doppelganger on the other side?  You can't so the fight will continue.

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