Hamed Aleaziz reports: A 718-page digital document obtained by Mother Jones contains names, phone numbers, neighborhoods, and alleged activities of thousands of dissidents apparently targeted by the Syrian government. Three experts asked separately by Mother Jones to examine the document — essentially a massive spreadsheet, whose contents are in Arabic — say they believe that it is authentic. As Bashar al-Assad’s military continues a deadly crackdown on dissent inside the country, the list appears to confirm in explicit detail the scale of the regime’s domestic surveillance and its methodical efforts to destroy widespread opposition.
The document does not contain any identifying government markings. But the experts consulted agree that its organization and content — which they say is striking in scope — are characteristic of lists used by intelligence services in the Middle East. A link to the document, which surfaced in mid-January in discussions about Syria on Twitter, was provided to Mother Jones by a self-described hactivist who tweets frequently in Arabic and English and whose identity is unclear. A redacted sample of the document is below; Mother Jones is not publishing the full document or revealing the names of individuals in it because we cannot definitively confirm its authenticity nor predict how the document might be used if more widely disseminated.
But the experts who examined the document say it shows what many observers have strongly suspected: In addition to relentless bombing of cities such as Homs and Hama, the Assad regime is tracking down thousands of its own people for interrogation, coercion, or far worse. Joshua Landis, a scholar on Syria who has consulted for the State Department and other US government agencies, said he thinks the document merges the records of several Syrian intelligence agencies in order to better coordinate the crackdown. “This is what a secret service does,” he said. Actions allegedly taken by individuals in the document—such as setting up a roadblock near Homs or issuing instructions about how to attack a Syrian military outpost—are “the kind of thing that people get whacked for all the time, or at least tortured for.” [Continue reading…]
Syria hit list targets thousands