‘I was an ISIS jihadist — until they arrested and tortured me’

Michael Weiss writes: Now in exile in Mersin, on the Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey, the 31-year-old Abu Omar laid out a story that was equal parts Midnight Express and Darkness at Noon.

It purports to be a first-hand account of an ISIS prison system, which is every bit as gruesome as you’d imagine it to be. His account is also a useful documentary insight into how an organization that once thrived on its shrewd guerrilla intelligence and counterintelligence tradecraft, able to spot informants, spies, and sleepers, and find agents with whom to infiltrate and vitiate rival factions, has come to resemble all totalitarianisms by devouring its own.

Originally from Kafr Zita in Hama province, which, among other things, would later be the site of a deadly chlorine and ammonia gas attack by the Assad regime, Abu Omar was a house painter by trade before the revolution began — a revolution that was supposed to be gloriously concluded by now.

Instead, the uprising is entering its sixth year as an endless series of slow-burning civil wars.

Abu Omar became a protestor in 2011 after the Syrian security services and military opened fire on others carrying banners calling for economic and social reforms in the spring of 2011. [Continue reading…]

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