Nov 29, 2013

Unprecedented scenes of appalling crimes and feelings of agonizing pain remain haunting those who managed to survive the brutality of the takfiri terrorists in Homs, having left their home areas full of panic and grief.

SANA interviewed some of the residents of Homs neighborhoods who witnessed barbaric massacres being inflicted upon their family members and neighbors and still have their hearts shaking with fear.

"I and my family ran away leaving behind everything we have because we just wanted to live and went to Aleppo to stay at our sister's," said the 23 year old Bassem from Bab al-Sbaa' neighborhood. He added that his family had to flee once again, but this time was to Damascus, after his father was martyred after being hit by a shell launched by terrorists that fell in the neighborhood where they lived in Aleppo.

Bassem's father was only the first member of his family to fall victim to the terrorists' attacks. Once in Jaramana city in Damascus, staying at their relatives', they felt they were chased by the terrorists' shells as one day a shell smashed into their house, killing his mother and sister and her child.

"Being left with nobody dear to fear for, I decided to return to my house in Homs," said Bassem defiantly but with a pang of sadness, noting that his house has been partly demolished in the terrorist attacks.

Not very far from Bab al-Sbaa' and exactly in al-Hamidiyeh neighborhood, Issa was forced to take his family out and headed towards his al-Wad'eh village in Sadad fleeing the acts of murder and looting inflicted by the terrorist groups.

Having got accustomed with life in their village after one and a half year of calm, Issa's family was not left in peace. Issa related how the roof of their house fell on their heads after being hit with a terrorists' shell, killing his mother, father and sister.

"It was awful. I will never forget the pain and sorrow I felt at the terrorists' hands," said Issa.

"Yet, I will defy the terrorists and won't leave my homeland, and I'm ready to join our brave army members," he added with pride.

Zainab from al-Naziheen neighborhood is another living witness of death inflicted by terrorism. After she lost her husband who was martyred while defending the homeland within the army ranks, Zainab was forced to flee her house under the terrorists' threats and went to her brother's in al-Waer neighborhood hoping to keep her orphaned baby safe.

The hostilities of the terrorists however reached al-Waer and that was when Zainab moved to her village in eastern Homs without knowing that death was looming. But this time it was her baby.

"A bullet penetrated his tender body while I was running to seek a refuge when the terrorists stormed into the village," said Zainab choking with grief.

The cold-blooded crimes of terrorists also made the 20 year old Suheir and her family pay the price for their love for their homeland. After having lived in tranquility in Wadi al-Saeh neighborhood for a long time, suddenly life was turned upside down for Suheir and her family.

"They killed my father and brother in cold blood only because they refused to join the terrorists and leave our place," said Suheir.

"I didn't expect our love for our homeland would get us killed and displaced," she added.

"What counts is that I'm still in Syria," said Abo Rashid from Jubb al-Jandali neighborhood who lost three of his children and had his house demolished and is now staying at a makeshift residential center in Homs after moving between Aleppo, Damascus Countryside and Raqqa. 


Mother Agnes Mariam: In Her Own Words

( by Sharmine Narwani)

American national security journalist Jeremy Scahill and leftist British columnist Owen Jones announced recently that they would not share a platform with a Palestinian-Lebanese nun at the Stop The War Coalition’s November 30 UK conference.

Neither Scahill nor Jones provided any reason for their harsh “indictment” of Mother Agnes Mariam, who has worked tirelessly for the past few years on reconciliation in war-torn Syria, where she has lived for two decades.

The journalists – neither of whom have produced any notable body of work on Syria – appear to have followed the lead of a breed of Syria “activists” who have given us doozies like “Assad is about to fall,” “Assad has no support,” “the opposition is peaceful,” “the opposition is unarmed,” “this is a popular revolution,” “the revolution is not foreign-backed,” “there is no Al Qaeda in Syria,” “the dead are mostly civilians,” and other such gems.

For some of these activists, anything short of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s departure is no solution of any kind. Mother Agnes Mariam, whose Mussalaha (Reconciliation) movement inside Syria works specifically on mediation, dialogue and the promotion of non-violence, is unmoved by black-and-white solutions: Reconciliation, after all, is a series of political settlements forged on both local and national levels. There are only compromises there, not absolute gain. She doesn’t actually care who leads Syria and who wins or loses, providing the choice comes from a Syrian majority.

Yet the smear “Assad apologist” persists in following Mother Agnes on her visits to foreign capitals to gain support for Massalaha and its methods. It puts her at risk on the ground in Syria and inhibits her ability to open communications with those who would otherwise welcome the relief she brings.

When Scahill and Jones announced they would not share a platform with Mother Agnes at the STWC conference, she withdrew so as not to undermine the event’s anti-war unity objective. But instead of bringing this incident to a close, a maelstrom has erupted around the actions of the two journalists: “Who are they to pass judgement? Why would reporters seek to censor any voice?”

Award-winning British journalist and author Jonathan Cook perhaps put it best in his piece entitled “Bowing before the inquisitors on Syria”:
“Scahill and Jones have not done something principled or progressive here. They are trying to stay ‘onside’ with the corporate media, the main political parties and the Syria war-mongers. In short, they are looking out for their careers…They are looking to keep their credibility within a wider political system that, they otherwise seem to acknowledge, is deeply compromised and corrupt. In this episode, they are not chiefly worrying about countering moves towards an attack or saving Syrian lives, even while they claim this is exactly what their participation is about.”
Both journalists are outspoken against the censorship of information by the “establishment media” so it is particularly galling to see them succumb to the bullying narratives that have so dominated Syria coverage in the mainstream. In their own domain and area of expertise they don’t trust establishment voices, so why trust them in any other arena? This rather obvious contradiction has turned the tables on Scahill/Jones – if anything, generating interest in Mother Agnes and what she has to say.

Time to give her that platform back – no need for others to filter your information, you can judge for yourself below. And because so much of this debate has taken place on Twitter and the blogosphere, I invited “tweeps” from all sides of the Syrian divide to pose some questions too:

So without further ado, here is Mother Agnes Mariam, in her own words:

Did the Stop The War Coalition ask you to withdraw from their anti-war conference or did you choose to do so of your own volition?

I was invited to this conference, then I was informed about people that were against my coming and threatening to blow it up because of me. I preferred to immediately withdraw for the sake of this conference. Now, to tell you the truth I also have fear that this conference will not be useful, because these people attending are not applying non-violence principles. Non-violence principles means to be open to all adversaries. We can deal with people who don’t think like us. A non-violent approach is to dialogue precisely with people who are different. For a peace conference to begin like this, I felt like it is not a peace conference.

Have you ever heard of Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones before this?

No, not at all. Who are they? Didn’t even notice who the people were. I heard about this from my organizer – that some people opposed even my presence. I understand everybody – I have been in dialogue with precisely the kind of people who opposed my presence. But it is the first time I hear their names, so no, I don’t know them. I’m not a person in the “scene.” (laughs)

What do you think of the attempt to censor views on Syria – and does your own experience this week have any correlation with how the mainstream media has covered Syria for almost three years?

You know, before working in reconciliation, I thought the so-called “democratic world” was really protecting freedom of expression and political choices. I am not involved with politics but they are ‘framing’ me; politicizing me. Am very shocked to learn that in this democratic world it is forbidden to think differently, talk differently and act differently from people who proclaim themselves as the ‘absolute reference’ for public opinion. This is a campaign of defamation. I am threatened by them: not by Jabhat al-Nusra, with whom I sometimes have good relations, or Al Qaeda – but by French media, by prominent leaders and CEOs of catholic NGOs, and by reporters. Am really astonished at how a reporter can become a prosecutor and a judge and can issue the sentence, and I am afraid that he can apply this sentence because today I see he works in total impunity.

Some media outlets and activists have accused you of brokering a civilian evacuation in rebel-held Moadamiya, only to hand them over to the Syrian authorities. What actually happened?

It was a purely humanitarian endeavor. Our (Mussalaha) team receives calls from all over Syria asking us to investigate people who have disappeared, to find out conditions for their release, to mediate on prisoner exchanges, to get food supplies to populations in need, how to transport humanitarian aid to hot areas, how to bring medical equipment to dangerous areas, how to arrange ceasefires, how to help violent opponents to shift to non-violence. We help to implement a non-violent spirit – we work with everybody, all sides, to do this.

This particular evacuation was requested by the civilian population itself in Mouadamiya. We have Mussalaha team members from Mouadamiya who are mediators. We were addressing the humanitarian issue in Moadamiya for many months before this, to try to make reconciliation from a violent opposition to a non-violent opposition. And when I saw photos of starving children on the Facebook – like in Biafra – I went to the Syrian Minister of Social Affairs Kinda al-Chammat to say this was not acceptable and that we should do something. Then we made contact with all the world health groups and international NGOs – we had talks with them to provide food. A caravan of more than 20 trucks was ready to enter Moadamiya, but it was forbidden to enter. It is difficult to say by who – I think it was from the army that was besieging this rebel stronghold, but also from the warlords that fix enormous prices to provide the entrance of food. Minister Chammat was really open to finding a solution, I said if they are not giving us the green light, I will go myself to take the 18 children who were under threat of dying. So we were entrusted to negotiate with the notables and the families in Moadamiya. Our mediators (also from Moadamiya) were surprised when whole families expressed the wish to be evacuated – because they are the families of the rebels, and to ask to be evacuated means they will be relying on the government. When we heard this we thought it was an easier and safer solution because if you bring in food but the violence continues, those civilians will be harmed anyway.

You know, under the Geneva Convention, it is illegal to transform a residential area into a battleground and if you do that you cannot keep civilians there like human shields. So the evacuation was motivated first by the desire of the families (not all, you know). The first project was to evacuate 100-200 women and children without any of their belongings, because there was a big fear that undisciplined members from either side would breach the ceasefire. It was delicate. Then on the very day, Minister Chammat, seeing hundreds of women and children arriving, told us “let as many who want to leave come out, because we cannot make discrimination,” so she made it open for that day. The government agreed to let us go alone; we were not escorted. All this was done in negotiations between the ministry and the governor of rural Damascus. Our responsibility was to bring the civilians to the barricade, but when we went there the rebels did not allow the women to proceed. I concluded, through contacts with the families that they were willing to come out, but we had to negotiate directly with the rebels. So I took a white flag into the area called no man’s land. I was followed by two of our mediators and by Sister Carmel – and it was heroic from her because she is a fearful person but she didn’t want me to go alone. There were tens of young rebel men, some armed, others not. And we were taken on a tour to see the destruction of the city and they asked us to come to the military council. (A video of Mother Agnes inside Moadamiya can be viewed here) They gave us security assurance. The commander arrived and they asked me to make a statement, which they recorded by video. But then we were detained, they wanted us to remain like ransom in exchange to let the women go out. We were hearing many noises and even gunfire while we were waiting. Then a real battle broke out – it was a big danger for everybody. We noticed that among them there was no unity, each would say their own thing. Finally, another leader came and agreed to the evacuation. Many of the leaders of fighters wanted their own families to leave. Others who don’t have families didn’t care. All we did was to answer a humanitarian request from rebel families.

In total, we evacuated 6,600 women and children – we have all their names, they are all registered. More than 200 are not registered because they left immediately with relatives. Also 650 young men came on their own to surrender. The army considered them as fighters. A few were badly wounded and they were taken to hospital. The (media) criticism was based on fake stories because the opposition (not the ones in Moadamiyada) do not want to accept the success of reconciliation based on mediation between the government and rebels. And because – after the success of the Moadamiya evacuation – ten other points in Syria have asked for the same mediation. Yesterday, for example, we had another evacuation – from Beit Sahm I believe – who were evacuated temporarily until the violence ceases. These critics said many were killed, abducted, raped when they came out of Moadamiya. Yes, there have been some errors and undisciplined acts. For instance, nine of the women were robbed. Volunteers from the ‘popular committees’ robbed their gold. We have done this evacuation in three separate days. On the first day we had 20 boys that were arrested, but we launched a campaign about this and they have been released. There are only two young boys now who are detained. We are still following up to secure them. The rebels with whom we have negotiated have entrusted us with their families, and they are the families of leaders and fighters, not just normal families. Until today, the two boys who disappeared after the Moadamiya evacuations are a problem for me and my credibility with the rebels. I am struggling with the authorities to find these boys right now.

The other major attack against you stems from a report you wrote about the aftermath of an alleged chemical weapons (CW) attack in Ghouta. You are accused of whitewashing the incident, blaming rebels for it and even charging children of “faking death.” How do you respond to these charges?

I have been accused of denying CW attacks, of protecting the Syrian regime and of accusing the rebels of launching those attacks. I have never said this. In the foreward of a study I did on this, I affirm: I am not an expert. I am not talking on a military basis, or a forensic or medical basis. I just questioned some videos. It started because I was asked by the parents – survivors of a terrible massacre in the Latakia mountains – to help find some children abducted with women after the massacre. Some had recognized their children in the pictures of the chemical attacks. They delegated me to look into this for them. I was tracking those children in the videos – without this task I would not have had any incentive to look at the videos. My work at the monastery was in iconography and restoration (preservation) – I am very used to using my eyes to look for tiny details. I noticed discrepancies in the videos. I came to look at them for one thing (the abducted children) and in the process I discovered these videos were fake. When I went to Geneva to the commissioners in the Human Rights Council, I told them about my findings in relation to the missing children and the videos, and they said they would be interested to have something written. I do not incriminate anybody in this study. I do not pretend to decide if there was a CW attack or not. There were discrepancies and I am simply asking questions. The study was done in a hurry – we even said it was a beta version. Now I am finalizing the study that will introduce even more evidence. Those videos – numbers 1, 6, 11, 13 among the 13 videos claimed by the US intelligence community as authenticated and verified to be presented to Congress as genuine evidence of CW attacks – are fake, staged and pre-fabricated. Nobody thus far is answering my charges – they are incriminating me without answering. My goal in this is to find the children; that’s my only goal. If they were used for staging, are they alive? Where are they now? If they are alive they must be returned to their families. If they are dead, we want to see their bodies to bury them so their parents can mourn them and we want to know how they were put to death and where. I am asking to see the graves where 1,466 alleged corpses are buried in Ghouta and to take from the pit samples to conduct an honest inquiry. Because I doubt that there is such a pit.

Question from Twitter user ‏‪@MortenHj‬: “Can she elaborate on how she conduct her talks between the warring sides? How do they acknowledge her; promise safety?”

Normally, we are called by the rebel sides who invite us for some settlements. Usually Syrian fighters either want to shift to non-violence, surrender and continue their lives, or they want us to mediate an exchange between abductees and detainees. We mediate among the responsible parties in government, like the ministry of justice and ministry of social affairs – it depends, since each case has its own context. We do it on a neutral basis – we are mediators, not part of the conflict. We want to ease the fate of civilians and we consider the fate of the Syrian rebels. We do not care about foreign fighters. Those foreign fighters are legally not allowed to enter or be in Syria. But we have special care for the Syrian fighters. We consider them as victims. A 17 or 18-year-old boy who is to be jailed, his mother is crying, what am I to do?

We talk via phone or Skype, sometimes we visit them as I did in many places. Sometimes the leader of a rebel group come to see me in a disguised way. Our (more detailed) talks are preferably face to face to build trust and transparency.

Sometimes you have rebels who request the release of their people who have been captured, others want to surrender – they don’t want anymore to participate in the armed struggle. Sometimes the liberal factions ask for help against the radical factions. I always say that between Syrians there is not a real wall. There is not a watertight impervious wall, so we receive many requests. We have had meetings with Jabhat al Nusra (JaN). When they are Syrians they can be flexible, when they are radical (foreigners) they will not talk to you, they will kill you. It’s like the Baggara tribe of around 3 million – they have relatives in Liwa al-Tawhid and JaN too. Half the tribe are loyalists, half are opposition. And this is a hope for the future. Everybody can talk to everybody. Once in Raqqa they put me on the phone with the emir because they wanted dialysis equipment for their hospital and so we mediated and the ministry of health sent 3 dialysis machines for the sake of the civilian population. I am always astonished how my people in the reconciliation committee know everybody.

Question from Twitter user @Kreasechan – What does she think should happen to those in command positions in the regime who have committed or commissioned war crimes and crimes against humanity?

I will tell you something. All this ‘apparatus of incriminations’ is politicized. If you can read between the lines of the report of the international Commission of Inquiry, you will see that the Syrian government has a hierarchy so it is easy to incriminate the government as a whole. But the rebels don’t have a hierarchy – you have 2,000 different battalions. Every time you see violence by rebels, large scale ones with hundreds of civilians now killed every week on a sectarian basis… If you study the more than 100,000 dead in Syria, you will be surprised to see that more than 45% of them are from the army and security forces. Then you have 35% of civilians among those dead, more than half of whom are killed by opposition. Then you have 15-20% of dead who are rebels. So it is not true to say the government is the only one perpetrating things against human rights. The Commission of Inquiry will have to work without political pressure to implement a good inquiry where everyone will be heard, because we are scandalized that light is shed on one side, but not on the other side. I know by saying this, they will incriminate me. But in reality, I am on side of the victims – I care that they will be heard. If you don’t hear from every side, these victims will continue to be under violence with impunity. We must ask accountability from everybody. Those incriminated by a fair, unbiased inquiry will have to pay their crimes, even those who have instigated and financed sectarian crimes.

Question from Twitter user @Paciffreepress – Do you love Assad, Mother Agnes?

I live in Syria and I have a burden on my shoulders for Syria. I believe beheading Syria from its government is a dangerous aggression when the UN still continues to consider the government of Assad to be the legal government. I rely on the UN position, which is the legal position. I consider that the dismantling of any State is a crime against humanity because it deprives the citizens of their citizenship and from their legality. They becomes pariahs. The Syrian people should decide through fair elections.

Question from Twitter user @r3sho – What is her opinion about Kurdish autonomy in Syria?

I am with the Syrian people – they will choose their own way, even if they want to make a federation or whatever. I am personally against the division of Syria, but federalism is up to the people. In my view, dividing a country is an aggression, but if the country decides to be a federation, it is a legal thing. They are free to do so.

Question from Twitter user ‏@broodmywarcraft: what does she have to say to those who call her a stooge for Assad?

I am a stooge only for peace, not for Assad. I am for peace through reconciliation. I am for dialogue and I am for discussing issues with everybody who wants to discuss peace. If any Syrian, on any side of this horrible conflict wishes to discus peace or work toward peace through reconciliation, I am ready to help.

Question from Twitter user ‏@bangpound: Does she still think the children were faking it in Ghouta?

They were not faking it. I never said that at all. I believe that they were either under anesthesia or that they were killed. But as the videos are fake, my terrible question is what were they doing with them?

Question from Twitter user ‏@Nouraltabbaa: If she is trying to perform a Mussalaha why is she meeting with Ali Kayyali and other militias but not the opposition fighters?

For some hard cases, I have to go beyond the civil administration to negotiate with the warlords. We go there officially as a reconciliation committee, accompanied by some Muslim clerics. I have to mediate with the opposition and the government and the popular committees. I have to mediate with everyone.

Question from Twitter user ‏@HRIMark: What effect is the campaign of defamation and threats against her having on her and her work?

It affects my life. I cannot go back to my monastery. I was saved by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They informed me about orders to abduct and kill me by foreign parties. They helped me to go out from Qara and they protected our monastery and they have not, to this day, given me the green light to return. A lot of them were workers in our monastery.

Question from Twitter user ‏‪@Net_News_Global‬: Ask her, if she thinks, that there was, besides murderous propaganda, a real CW attack.

We have witnesses and ‘social sensors’ everywhere in Damascus. Until today we have received 88 claims of death in Moadamiya (from the August 21 attack).

We are told they were not killed because of sarin, that they were killed because of heavy shelling from the army and from suffocation from heavy shelling. The deceased were together in a shelter and they suffocated from this. Moadamiya people told us this. One of the reasons that I would like to see the graves is because 1,466 deaths is a real “social tsunami” in the Syrian society where everybody knows everybody and everybody is related. In the case of East Ghouta, we did not even have one case show up. We did not know of one single person who is dead. You know, to have relatives claiming this – the brother, the friend – nobody did. We did not have the “echo” of the death of 1,466 people. We are asking for a neutral inquiry with the presence of witnesses from both sides, where they will open the pits, see the victims, they will take samples randomly – where they took it, how they took it, etc. Samples should be sent to 5 labs under the same conditions and precautions. Until then there is a question mark on everything. I cannot say yes, I cannot say no.

Question from Twitter user ‏‪@tob_la‬: How would she describe her relationship with Syrian intelligence services?

There is no relationship. This is despite the wild allegations of some people who believe that the heads of the Syrian intelligence meet with me, a simple nun, on a daily basis. Do you believe that these people would spare such time?

I have no “relations” with such authorities. As mediators we have to deal with these people when necessary. And without my mediation task I don’t have anything to do with them.

Question from Twitter user ‏‪@MortenHj‬: What does she view as the biggest problem facing the refugees, especially children, with the approaching winter. How can anyone support?

This is a very big problem. We need warm clothes, blankets urgently. During my trip in the US – from California – they are sending me a container with a special kind of textile that is very warm. “Oakley” warm clothing. We can provide for the local diaspora or NGOs to come collect these things from anywhere in the world and send them in containers to Syria. We are trying to do a big push for winter now. We’re also getting some tents. I will be going back to the US where an NGO will be providing us with something that resembles tents, but is rectangular. We are planning to get thousands of these – one per family. You have whole neighborhoods that are destroyed. Instead of displacing residents outside their areas, I would like to return them to their home, even if it is destroyed, and put them on their land in a refurbished structure. Like this, slowly by slowly they can rebuild their homes.

Question by Twitter user ‏@edwardedark: Could you please ask her why the Vatican has not been more outspoken on the plight of Christians in Syria?

I don’t know – maybe because the Vatican and all of us we are in solidarity with all the civilian population in Syria and we don’t want to emphasize a sectarian dimension because we viewed this as artificial. Christians have shared the same fate as Muslims in Syria – everybody faced the same violence. Monsignor Mamberti and the Pope are finally expressing their sadness for the sectarian nature that the conflict is taking, I think because now there is too much targeting of Christians now in Maaloula, Sadad, Qara, Deir Atieh, Nabek and other places. Every day Christian buses, schools are being targeted. In Bab Touma, Bab Sharqi, Jaramana, Kasa’a, Malki…

Now the Vatican is talking. Mgr. Mamberti is saying loudly and clearly that The Holy See cares about unity, sovereignty, and the place of the minorities so they will not be isolated, cornered, or forgotten. The Holy Sea is promoting reconciliation, dialogue and a peaceful settlement of the crisis. They are against the arming of any side. They want more creativity for peace and not creativity for war. What I found outstanding about the Monsignor’s recent comments is that he said the Syrian people should isolate the foreigners, distance themselves and denounce them. This is a very clear statement against foreign intervention. Then he opened the issue of humanitarian aid and the dialogue between religions – interfaith dialogue. This is not the task of experts, but the task of everybody, the believers. So there is a real change in language from the Vatican. The Holy See is no longer shy about Syria – and to tell you the truth, it is time. What is left for the Christians in Syria otherwise?

Follow the author Sharmine Narwani on Twitter, Facebook, The Huffington Post and Al Akhbar English


U.S. allies let funds flow to al Qaeda in Syria

By Guy Taylor  | The Washington Times |  October 13, 2013

The United States has had limited success cutting off funding to the al Qaeda-linked fighters and foreign jihadists flowing into Syria — in part because of a lack of cooperation on the part of Middle Eastern allies, Intelligence and national security community sources say.

Officials say they are tracking the movements of funds from various wealthy individuals in the Persian Gulf, but the governments of key Gulf countries are reluctant to crack down.

“Unless the money is actually in the U.S. financial system, you have to point out to these governments where the money is going and try to work with them to make sure it goes to legitimate groups,” said one U.S. official who spoke with The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of intelligence related to tracking such money.

“The U.S. can’t shut down bank accounts in Kuwait or Qatar,” the official said. “We can tell them, ‘Look at what this person is doing.’”

The approach has worked with variable success over the past decade, during which U.S. authorities have worked closely with counterparts in such nations as Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to choke off streams of cash to al Qaeda’s core leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But when it comes to stemming the flow of aid to Salafist and al Qaeda-linked groups inside Syria, the strategy has been less successful — suggesting authorities in the Gulf now may see American pressure for such action as less worthy than previous calls to block cash to al Qaeda.

“In some nations where they have had success in clamping down on terrorist funding for al Qaeda’s core, this is a source of funding that has not really been clamped down on,” the official said.

The extent to which that money is aiding the rise of extremists in Syria seemed to burst open last month when 11 Syrian rebel groups, including the Nusra Front — an organization U.S. officials link to al Qaeda — banded together in a public rejection of the more secular political opposition groups outside the country that are receiving aid from Washington.

By calling for a new government in Syria to be ruled by Islamic law, the newly formed coalition dealt a major blow to U.S.-led efforts to support a democratic alternative to embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Although the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) — another rebel group with al Qaeda ties in Syria — was left out of the coalition, analysts say, it, too, is growing dangerously in the war zone. As the extremist foothold has deepened, so have reports of abuses and war crimes carried out by opposition fighters.

A report released last week by Human Rights Watch said members of the Nusra Front and ISIS were among rebel fighters who killed some 190 unarmed civilians during an August offensive on villages perceived to be supporting the Assad government. The report said 67 of the civilians were slain at close range while trying to flee.

The bottom line is that the landscape of extremist groups among the opposition has grown increasingly complex over the past year, said Mouaz Moustafa, executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, an advocacy arm of Syria’s more secular political opposition that lobbies in Washington for a greater U.S. role in the conflict.

“The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has increasing power and influence in places like Aleppo and Raqqa Province,” said Mr. Mustafa. “But at the same time, other Islamist battalions have coalesced and improved their organizational structures while rejecting both the ISIS and the more secular outside political coalition.”

He said that “all of these groups are getting assistance” and that the task of pinning down the precise source of the money is difficult. “That’s the million-dollar question,” he said.

When it comes to ISIS, said Mr. Moustafa, “you’re talking about al Qaeda’s network, and I would assume most of the aid and resources they’re getting comes directly from Iraq, where the system was already in place to raise money going back to the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq several years ago.”

Kuwait-Turkey connection

U.S. officials say that system has relied heavily on the activities of an Iran-based al Qaeda “facilitator” named Muhsin al-Fadhli.

A little-reported press release circulated by the U.S. Treasury Department last October described al-Fadhli as “a veteran al Qaeda operative” who provided “financial and material support” to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Zarqawi.

Zarqawi was known for orchestrating a series of gruesome bombings and beheadings in Iraq before U.S. forces killed him in 2006. But the activities of al-Fadhli’s network supposedly have carried forth — and have evolved toward tapping a reserve of Kuwait-based sympathizers to fund extremist groups fighting in Syria.

“In addition to providing funding for al Qaeda activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, this network is working to move fighters and money through Turkey to support al Qaeda-affiliated elements in Syria,” according to the Treasury Department press release. “Al-Fadhli also is leveraging his extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors to send money to Syria via Turkey.”

That extremist elements of Syria’s opposition are gaining strength appears to expose the limitations of the U.S. government to block the flow of such money — or at least to persuade partners in Kuwait and other Persian Gulf nations to do so.

Officials at the Kuwaiti Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request by The Times to comment for this article.

But an article published last month by Foreign Policy shed some light on the situation. In the article, William McCants, a former senior adviser in the State Department’s office of the coordinator for counterterrorism, wrote that “the Gulf monarchies have not been able or willing to stem the tide of private money their citizens are sending to theSalafi charities and popular committees.”

Kuwait in particular has done little to stop it because it lacks an effective terror financing law and because it cannot afford politically to infuriate its already angry Salafi members of parliament,” wrote Mr. McCants. “Qatar and Saudi Arabia have tried to crack down on fundraising for the Salafi militias but their citizens just send their money toKuwait.”

Political storm in Turkey

The rise of extremists among Syria’s rebels, meanwhile, has set off a political storm in Turkey, where the leadership of the nation’s main opposition party is accusing the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of supporting al Qaeda-linked groups in the nearby war zone.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who heads the Republican People’s Party — or CHP, as it is known in Turkey — declared in a speech last month that al Qaeda “is now under the protective wings of Erdogan.”

Analysts say such claims are based mainly on politics, but also partly on the ease with which jihadist foreign fighters seeking to join Syria’s opposition rebels have been able to cross the long border between Turkey and its southern neighbor over the past two years.

The situation prompted concern among some national security and intelligence circles in Washington last month when a German news report was posted online that purported to show foreign fighters from around the world, bound for Syria, flowing through a jihadist safe house along the Turkish side of the border.

The report showed footage of a gray-bearded man who, according to the report, had arrived from California to join the jihad in Syria.

Asked about the German report, one senior U.S. intelligence official told The Times that “it would be inaccurate to suggest the government of Turkey is helping foreign jihadists enter Syria.”

“Preventing extremists from crossing the roughly 500-mile Turkish border to join the Syrian opposition is among the many security challenges Turkey faces,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of not being named in this article.

A Turkish government source, who also asked not to be named, said the U.S. comment was unsurprising “because American authorities are very well aware of our operations against al Qaeda.”

“To claim that Turkey is supporting terrorism is an insult to Turkey,” said the Turkish source. “We’re trying to control our borders as much as we can.”

Others say the situation is complex and nuanced by Turkey’s domestic and regional political strategies.

Hugh Pope, an Istanbul-based program director for the International Crisis Group, said the Erdogan government may have deliberately blurred its border with Syria in order to provide aid for hundreds of thousands of refugees crossing into Turkey from Syria, but dismissed the notion that the Erdogan government supports al Qaeda-linked fighters crossing the other way.

“This is certainly not Turkey embracing al Qaeda,” Mr. Pope said in an interview with The Times. “Al Qaeda has blown plenty of stuff up in Turkey. Turkey is an enemy to al Qaeda and has been a partner to the United States in aiding the fight against al Qaeda in all kinds of ways.”

Paul Pillar, a former CIA officer who now teaches at Georgetown University, said that “if the Erdogan government is relaxed about aid getting into the hands of Nusra, it’s because they see Nusra as one of the more effective fighters against Assad and not because this is some kind of backdoor way of aiding whatever particular ideology Nusra represents.”

Mainstream Media Finally Reports on U.S. Funding of Terror

“It's like the United States government subsidizing the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Haqqani network, those groups that are trying to shoot and kill our soldiers,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), shown, told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer last week.

On July 30, a report issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) revealed the depth of the betrayal. According to SIGAR, there are at least 43 individuals and companies that are suspected of being “supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al Qaeda,” that regularly receive millions of dollars from the U.S. military. To its credit, in the report SIGAR recommends immediately severing all relations to these organizations.

In what has to be one of the most ironic excuses offered by the federal government for maintaining its support for these “enemies of the state,” the SIGAR report claims that such a severance would be unacceptable as it might violate the “due process rights” of the alleged terrorist beneficiaries.

“I would also like to reiterate the concerns I raised in our last report about the Army’s refusal to act on SIGAR’s recommendations to prevent supporters of the insurgency, including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al Qaeda, from receiving government contracts,” SIGAR’s lead inspector, John Sopko, wrote.

“The Army rejected all 43 cases,” Sopko wrote, adding that “the Army Suspension and Debarment Office appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due process rights if based on classified information or if based on findings by the Department of Commerce.”

“I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract,” Sopko wrote. “I feel such a position is not only legally wrong, it is contrary to good public policy and contrary to our national security goals in Afghanistan.”

“I continue to urge you to change this faulty policy and enforce the rule of common sense in the Army’s suspension and debarment program,” Sopko wrote.

The firms have been identified by SIGAR for “providing material support to the insurgency in Afghanistan.” The contracts are part of the U.S. government’s $89.5 billion Afghanistan reconstruction effort. Logically, the Afghanistan reconstruction watchdog recommends that the Department of Defense (DOD) immediately cut business ties to the terrorists, who have been linked to the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other like-minded, America-hating extremists.
It is telling that the “mainstream media” has only begun to cover a story that Judicial Watch broke over the summer. In July, Judicial Watch published an account of the SIGAR report that is nearly identical to the information only recently reported by Shaheen and covered by ABC News and others.

Beyond the financial support of suspected terrorists, the SIGAR report reveals that more than a dozen recipients of U.S. largesse are bilking taxpayers out of millions, as well.

“An additional 18 individuals were referred for suspension or final debarment based on criminal allegations of theft from coalition forces, acceptance of bribes, bulk cash smuggling into the United States, or final criminal convictions in U.S. District Court,” the report claims.

The total amount defrauded comes to $5,344,982.

In a statement to ABC News, the Army said it has "extensive vendor vetting procedures to prevent the awarding of contracts to such vendors." It said most of the 43 companies were not awarded any new contracts "as a result of measures currently in place.”

"The army takes seriously any allegations of improper contractor activities and has vigorous processes to ensure that those with whom we do business are not supporting the insurgency or otherwise opposing U.S. and collation forces in Afghanistan," the statement reads.

Remarkably, the Obama administration’s support for terror is not limited to Afghanistan, however.

On August 1, 2012, Reuters filed a report detailing a secret order signed by President Obama providing support to Syrian rebel forces opposing the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Reuters wrote: “Recent news reports from the region have suggested that the influence and numbers of Islamist militants, some of them connected to al Qaeda or its affiliates, have been growing among Assad's opponents.”

The next day, The New American’s Alex Newman covered the same story, writing:
Western governments, brutal Sunni-Arab dictatorships, an assortment of terror groups including al-Qaeda, and other powerful interests have all been backing the uprising since long before violence even broke out last year.
Later that same day, in a story covering the violence of the Syrian uprising, the BBC reported:
The al-Qaeda-styled group in Syria is Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham (the Front for the Protection of the Syrian People).
Like other al-Qaeda affiliated groups, al-Nusra's statements and videos are usually issued by its own media group, al-Manara al-Baida (the White Minaret) in Syria.
Al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for several attacks against the Syrian army, security and shabiha (state-sponsored thugs) since it announced its formation early this year.
Finally, under a headline reading "Al-Qaida turns tide for rebels in battle for eastern Syria,” The Guardian (U.K.) reported:
They try to hide their presence. "Some people are worried about carrying the [black] flags," said Abu Khuder. "They fear America will come and fight us. So we fight in secret. Why give Bashar and the west a pretext?" But their existence is common knowledge in Mohassen. Even passers-by joke with the men about car bombs and IEDs [improvised explosive devices].
According to Abu Khuder, his men are working closely with the military council that commands the Free Syrian Army brigades in the region. "We meet almost every day," he said. "We have clear instructions from our [al-Qaida] leadership that if the FSA need our help we should give it. We help them with IEDs and car bombs. Our main talent is in the bombing operations." Abu Khuder's men had a lot of experience in bomb-making from Iraq and elsewhere, he added.
The foregoing accounts of the hostilities in Syria provide nearly irrefutable evidence that numerous al-Qaeda militants are found among the ranks of Syrian rebels (particularly within the Free Syrian Army), including among those filling leadership roles within those forces.

Now that such a presence has been proven, the inquiry into whether the president of the United States has provided “substantial support” to al-Qaeda in violation of the NDAA, an act he signed into law on December 31, 2011, moves to the “secret order” mentioned above.

From Alex Newman’s report:
President Obama has signed a secret order purporting to authorize even more “covert” U.S. government support to the armed opposition. Multiple establishment press outlets reported the latest development citing official sources, indicating that the administration likely released the news for a purpose.
According to media reports, Obama’s latest secret “intelligence” order claims to grant the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other U.S. government agencies even broader latitude in supporting the “revolutionaries.”
Exactly what the nature of the support that the president authorized the CIA to give to the Free Syrian Army is unknown. However, what is known is that in late 2012, the U.S. Treasury Department approved a license granting to a group known as the Washington Syrian Support Group power to provide direct financial assistance to the Free Syrian Army. According to CNN’s account of the Treasury’s decision, “The Washington-based representative of the Free Syrian Army is allowed to conduct financial transactions on the rebel group's behalf but is not allowed to send military equipment.”

In addition to the financial assistance facilitated by the U.S. Treasury, the State Department has allocated $25 million for "nonlethal" assistance to the Syrian opposition, in addition to the $64 million in humanitarian assistance earmarked for Syria.

Perhaps, some may argue, President Obama is not aware of the presence of al-Qaeda militants in the Syrian opposition. Unless he doesn’t talk to members of his Cabinet, such an assertion is unsupportable.

At a press conference in May 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted, “We do have intelligence that indicates an al-Qaeda presence in Syria.” So much for not knowing.

Then at a briefing in Washington, D.C., in July, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin recognized the influence and contribution of al-Qaeda to the Free Syrian Army’s cause. Said Benjamin:
So long as Assad refuses to go and Syria’s transition is blocked, the danger grows of more foreign fighters, including extremists of the al-Qaida type, infiltrating Syria. We are not — we are very much alert to this issue. We’ve spoken with the Syrian opposition groups and warned them against allowing such fighters to infiltrate their organizations. They’ve assured us that they are being vigilant and want nothing to do with AQ or with violent extremists. And I should add that the Free Syrian Army has issued several statements urging foreign fighters to leave Syria.
Apparently the Obama administration’s answer to the FSA’s embrace of al-Qaeda is to “just say no.” Not that their refusal to reject al-Qaeda recruits will keep the money from flowing, however.

Under the weight of such substantial evidence of the president’s material support for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other suspected terrorist organizations, should he not be indefinitely detained by the U.S. military under the terms of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that he signed into law on December 31, 2011?

As The New American has chronicled since it was first proposed, the NDAA purportedly authorizes the president of the United States to deploy the armed forces to apprehend and indefinitely detain anyone suspected of providing support to terrorists. Section 1021 of the NDAA reads in relevant part:
Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C.1541 note) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
And, finally:

"Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force."

A plain reading of Section 1021 reveals, then, that anyone who is found to have “substantially supported” al-Qaeda or associated forces can be detained by the military until the end of the War on Terror.

Perhaps now that the mainstream media has begun publicizing the betrayal, there will be a call from Congress to dismantle the cycle of funding that not only sends the U.S. military to fight terrorists, but buys the “enemy” the bullets it fires back.

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, and the surveillance state. He is the host of The New American Review radio show that is simulcast on YouTube every Monday. Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at


Syria's security forces seize arms smuggled from Iraq ( Mar 11, 2011 )

DAMASCUS -- Fri Mar 11, 2011

Grenades, firearms and ammunition belts found in truck loaded in Baghdad

[Comment: 11 march 2011, an arms shipment going from Iraq to Syria is seized. But weren't we told that it started as 'a peaceful grassroots uprising'? sure.. sure... we believe ya'.]

(Reuters) - Syria said Friday security forces seized a large shipment of weapons and explosives and night-vision goggles this week in a truck coming from Iraq.

The official news agency SANA said the shipment, intercepted at the Tanaf border crossing Monday, was intended "for use in actions that affect Syria's internal security and spread unrest and chaos."

It did not say how many weapons were seized. But published pictures showing dozens of grenades and pistols as well as rifles and ammunition belts.

The agency quoted the driver of the truck as saying the weapons had been loaded in Baghdad, and that he had been told he would be paid $5,000 to deliver them in Syria.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)


The Al-Bayda Massacre

Media Disinformation and Coverup of Atrocities Committed by US Sponsored Syria Rebels

The Al-Bayda Massacre: Answering Britain's Channel 4's Whitewash of Another Syrian Rebel Massacre

Mideast Syria
 Human Rights Gatekeepers Keeping the Gates
There is a new disinformation offensive over the Syrian al-Bayda massacre, an event I and the ACLOS (A Closer Look On Syria) research community recently studied intensively. Since being reported in the coastal Tartous province on May 2, the outside world is supposedly ignoring the massacre. But mainly, as explained partially below, they have been ignoring key details that implicate the multinational rebel forces, not the governemtn and its allies, in the crimes there.
This pattern of avoidance continues with a nauseatingly slick new propaganda piece by Channel 4 news: Al-Bayda: Anatomy of a War Crime (filmed, Produced and Directed by James Brabazon). [1] This uses Human Rights Watch Middle East director Nadim Houry, and fancy satellite effects, to sex up what’s really just unverified “activists say” reporting. Some claims are laundered by Houry, who repeats them as fact. This is not  investigative reporting, but another campaign to solidify a challenged rebel narrative, as was done in waves with the Houla massacre of May 2012. In that case, it has now been proven the challenging “government” version is after all the best fit with the available evidence, and it seems that a rebel massacre of horrifying audacity has gone unpunished. [2]
 This program comes just days after the UN Human Rights Commission released a report placing the blame for nine horrible massacres in Syria – one (Hatlah) pinned on rebels, eight on the people rebels blamed. Al-Bayda and its follow-up sister massacre in Ras al-Nabi’, Baniyas nearby are two on that short list of eight, Reuters reported. [3] There were about a dozen others left undecided and like a hundred not even considered.
 ”Anatomy of a War Crime,” and this article, focus strictly on the earlier al-Bayda half of these Baniyas massacres. The basic gist from Houry, paraphrased: regime forces clearly did the massacre because al-Bayda is a Sunni town and rebels are Sunni, and the Alawite and Christian loyalist towns surround ing it are full of people who could do this. The army admits entering the city by three axes, which “seems to indicate some sort of central decision,” and he’s pretty sure the massacres happened after that. Male bodies piled in the cell phone shop, he decided, were dead. To him, that seems like a big clue.
 An army operation, dead people, in a Sunni town, and the government denials are supposed to look pretty thin. They will be held to account, Houry promises, and B-roll footage glorifies his ability to jot down names I recognize and tape lots of things to the wall, like photos I can name the people in.
The video comes with a summary, apparently written by producer James Brabazon, which I’ll use as a template for a partial point-by-point refutation:
 ”While the investigation into the regime’s alleged use of nerve gas continues, the 2 May massacre in al-Bayda remains the single, most extensive verified act of the killing of civilians carried out by government forces since the war began.”
Oops! It’s actually not very clear at all who’s responsible, as we’ll see. As for the extent of it :
“The Syrian army had killed at least 169 civilians in four hours. The verified final death toll is likely to reach beyond 250.”
 The time span is a separate issue, as explained below, quite likely just made up. The death toll seems to be, broadly, 100-120, but it’s not really set. [4] The only list with about their number is the biggest we could find, with 165 entries, was published shortly after and contains numerous near-duplicate entries, re-mixed names and extra family members that appear in no other sources, etc. [5] 165 was the previous unsubstantiated high estimate among those backed by alleged names (there are higher tallies up to 400+ with no details at all). Channel 4 “verified the names” of a number just higher than that, and that becomes the starting point, the low-end number, with probably more than 250 really killed, or likely twice this minimum or maybe even 400+. This is unsound methodology, designed to maximize the moral outrage at the expense of reliability.
 ”[al-Bayda] was a predominantly Sunni village … The Syrian government didn’t consider al-Bayda to be a threat.”
 This as close as they get to explaining any reason that specific people were targeted, please note. It was a Sunni town, and random Sunni people within it were chosen just for that, presumably – not for any threat, their politics, or anything. Racism and regime evil alone are to blame, HRW and the activists claim.
 The alternate explanation, considering no motive past those stupid ones, is that maybe the government’s forces didn’t do it. Civilians were clearly massacred, but maybe someone else who wants to make the regime look bad did it for them. I’m not saying Nadim Houry had a hand in killing these people. I trace it further back, to his ultimate information sources about a crime he may be helping them both obscure and fob off for geopolitical utility.
Loyalist Victims : the Biassi and Related Families
Completely ignored in this “anatomy” is they key feature that from within al-Bayda, it seems government loyalist Sunnis were singled out. The vast majority have political views that are simply unknown, with no proven rebel activism shown for anyone.
There’s only one victim whose views and mind are known – the most prominent martyr, Sheikh Omar Biassi, the 63-year-old imam of the city’s main mosque (or perhaps retired). His photo is shown in the video (doctored with the Syrian flag, 12:45) but he is never named or mentioned therein. All sources on both sides who mention the man at all agree he supported the government, and has been documented calling for interfaith dialog, national unity, and a settlement of the conflict, led by the “captain of the ship” Bashar al-Assad. [6]
Authorities were not threatened by the pro-government imam, but rebels presumably at least didn’t like the guy. On April 3 in his safe province of Tartous, an Omar Biassi posted a comment calling for the death, if needed, of all “traitors.,” his patience having worn through. [6] One month later, he and his family were wiped out instead. A reported 36 members of the Biassi family were killed on May 2; at least two dozen with his name appear on lists, and through apparent intermarriage, dozens of others (families Fattouh, Al-Shoghri, Qaddour, Hamouda) are also related. In fact, about half of those listed are demonstratably linked to this one man, who might have just pissed off the rebels in his area. The rest could also be linked and it’s just not clear yet.
 Sheikh Biassi would be neither the first nor the last pro-government Sunni cleric singled out, presumably by rebels, for breaking their poorly-written script where all Sunnis reject the regime. Consider top Sunni scholar Dr. Mohammed Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, killed March 21 in Damascus, Sheikh Abdullatif al-Jumaili in Aleppo, February 8, and Hassan Seifaddine, beheaded in Sheikh Maqsoud Aleppo, March 30. [7]
 There is some further complexity, however, in this case. As Brabazon wrote:
“In May, 2011 [authorities] rounded up all the men in the village square and beat many of them up.”
 In mid-April 2011, rather, authorities rounded up about 100 of the men for suspected anti-government activity, and beat up/stomped on some of them. Members of Imam Biassi’s family were prominent among them, as well as other family names that would appear as losing members in the massacre. [8]
As damning as that might sound, each family had its factions. Omar Biassi sided with the president, while an “Abu Ali Biassi” was allegedly the defense minister of a planned Islamic emirate in Baniyas,* with weapons secured from Lebanese helpers, and power stations slated for destruction. In December, 2011, more Biassis were arrested after some one  set Sheikh Omar’s car on fire.  [6] As for which camp the 2013 massacre victims belonged to, Omar himself is our only clear benchmark.
* (side-note: The planned emir of that was Sheikh Anas Ayrout from Baniyas, now an Islamist member of the Syrian National Coalition, in July 2013 urging a “balance of terror” against Syria’s Alawite civilian population which fed the horrific Latakia massacres in August) [9].
Obscuring Rebel Capabilities
There was no FSA or opposition military presence at all, Barbazon heard, and other sources have spoken of a nominal to non-existent rebel force varying between zero and 14 members, on which they had just symbolically declared al-Bayda “liberated.” [10] This is important for two reasons : it leaves no real provocation possible for the Army offensive, and also rules out a massacre by the rebel side, which would require some kind of force.
“The only function that al-Bayda played for the opposition was to help smuggle out individual deserting government soldiers who’d run away from their bases on the coast and were trying to reach rebel-held territory.”
 ”Regime forces came and went as they pleased. No-one attacked them,” the report adds, which was seemingly true through 2012 and 2013, at least until the end of April, when a colonel was assassinated, a checkpoint was attacked, security was tightened, there was a small raid with a few arrests in al-Bayda on May 1. [11] That night and into the morning, events are not clear. The next day, after the major assault, the government showed on video a large cache of weapons including RPGs and machine guns, seized in what they considered their raid on a fully functioning cell. [12] That was first jabbed lightly on May 1, perhaps underestimating it, which may have stirred the hornet’s nest for some stinging that night.
As for the help to “individual deserting government soldiers,” not organized armed groups of Islamist defectors or foreigners: Early on May 2 security men came to arrest “a group of three (individual ?) Syrian army deserters who were being hidden in the outskirts of the village” but remained armed and resisted. Only then did about a dozen lightly-armed locals improvise a militia to aid the soldiers, and together they did manage to defeat the Shabiha and leave them burning in their trucks.
This was reported from the beginning: some 30-40 alleged attackers of the National Defense Forces or “Shabiha” came around 4 am or earlier ; they were ambushed by some rebel force, reports on both sides said, with 6-8 killed, some 20-30 others injured and perhaps captured, or even executed and mixed into the man-heavy death toll. Even the few acknowledged as killed  are not acknowledged anywhere in a death listing or any rebel video, at least not as themselves. [13]
So as evidence there was no rebel presence, nothing worth attacking, and nothing capable of its own false flag massacre, we have an allegedly desperate start to a battle. And as always reported, the rebel forces in al-Bayda soundly won it, in the pre-dawn hours of May 2. That is actually further counter-evidence against the crucial claim, and rebel weaponry remains a viable explanation for any violence at that time, if it cannot be proven as something else.
Timeline Clues : Massacre Before the Army Arrived
“At seven in the morning of 2 May this year, Syrian government forces entered the village … At 1.30pm the killing began.”
 In the pre-dawn dark, of May 2, the evidence suggests, the women and children victims at least were already dead and being filmed by rebel cameras, hours before the army entered. Nadim Houry is careful to dispel this possibility; at 3 :00 in the video he explains as fact “all the civilians died after 1 :30, when the armed groups, security forces, the army, these paramilitary groups, proceeded to go house to house in the village.” [1] Clearly he’s relying on what people have told him, and it can hardly be verified by any research.
A wide range of sources suggests the Army’s artillery offensive, not invasion, started around 7 :00 am, and boots in the city only came later than this. The pre-attack started, logically, just after sunrise (about 6 :45 local time that day). So anything filmed on May 2 but before sunrise, clearly, is solidly before the army entered, with the daylight hours after increasingly contested.
 Two crime scenes or victims at least are shown twice – once in the dark and once in the light – where it can be established the light scene is later. This means there was a period flanking dawn where opposition activists enjoyed relaxed access to these crime scenes. [14] Video release dates do not prove anything but no-later-than, and they do fail to prove an early May 1 massacre. Coming out only on May 3, 4, and 5, technically they allow more mornings when each could have been filmed. [15] But this is apparently a delayed release problem (see below)
Reports by the end of May 2 strengthen this. With only the one night-dawn span preceding it to discover, film, and count bodies, it was reported that “regime forces executed 200 people.” That was at 9 :07 pm on the 2nd as I found, perhaps in error – it might be 8:07. It was known that “50 martyrs, mostly women and children, were slaughtered with knives” by 8:01/7:01 pm. “Slaughter knives” in use were already mentioned at 6:15/5:15 pm. [16]
All of these are no-later than times for any real knowledge. The best time to start announcing a known tally from the morning is in the evening, after the army has taken charge and could be blamed. How they could actually gather such intelligence in that climate and with such speed is not clear. It is technically possible, but having the information already would explain this rapidly-evolving record even better. Houry notes the rapidity of the killing reports after 1 :30 as a sign of premeditation by the regime – they jumped right to it. Rather, the eager appearance of knowledge might suggest much worse on the other side.
According to the video release timeline, activists generally took days to get any video of the sites with women and children. In Channel 4’s program, Hassan says he filmed his video of the 20 women and girls (see below) around 10 PM on the 2nd, but for whatever reason, it was held back until 2 :45/1 :45 am on the 4th, when the first postings appeared online. [15] Chances are high it was filmed about 18 hours earlier than he says, and the others too were also delayed, however long after being filmed early on the 2nd or even late on the 1st. 
 The Victims in Mustafa’s House
“In the house of Mustafa Biyasi, 30 women and children were herded into one room and then executed – shot at point blank.”
 In the video, Hassan refers to the home of  ”Abu Ali Mustafa, family Biassi.” He shows the dark video of the main massacre scene, which he says was filmed at 10 PM, in his own neighborhood. It’s said the victims were shot at close range, but some display prominent blade slices, and the frequent holes in throats could actually have been poked, alike throat-slicing but less obviously Islamist. (An oddity : there’s little blood visible on the victims, despite the sometimes horrific wounds – this is worth more scrutiny).
 Previously, I had found reports of a “Mustafa Ali Biassi,” politics unknown but aged near 50, who was reported arrested  by 6 :46 pm local on May 1, as rebels began various operations in the area and security forces started a crackdown. [11] It wasn’t clear who arrested him, but, then – perhaps that night – came the massacres with so many family members snuffed out, as it seems, largely inside his house (app.100 meters west of the mosque, the video’s map says). Aisha Biassi, named on-screen with a baby in red not named, must (allegedly) be Aisha Qaddour, wife Mohammed Mustafa Ali Biasi, also killed, per the big list. [5] Two baby boys are listed after: Ali Mustafa Ali, and Mohammed Mustafa Ali (plus two more possible children – an unnamed daughter and a blank entry). [5]
 Others here might be misidentified; five children, all seemingly girls by the colorful, ruffled dresses they wear, are panned over as only three names are shown: Afnan, Sarah, and Abdullah Biyasi. Sarah is one of three Fattouh-Biassa sisters (the others not named) from Safaa Ali Biassi, married to Abdullah Fattouh. [17] She’s named here as the pregnant woman with a hole in her jaw. The baby, I thought a girl, is said to be her little boy Hamza and could be. Sarah as named is apparently in red, holding Afnan in purple (who I missed in earlier scans). Aged 3, she’s apparently from a different family. This girl’s neck seems hacked badly, details mercifully unclear. Which dress-wearing child is supposed to be Sarah’s brother Abdullah is unclear. Otherwise, with the exception of the baby in red, there are no males in this room. Sex segregation is consistent with either version of the massacre, of course.
Corpses as Props
“Saffa Biyasi cuddled her baby boy, Hamza Biyasi. They lay dead next to each other, serene despite their injuries. Afnan Biyasi and another small child spooned each other on the bed they were shot on, perhaps holding each other for comfort in the last moments before the bullets ripped through their tiny bodies.”
This is unlikely. Bodies were extensively managed by rebels at these crime scenes they enjoyed relaxed access to. At least two clear examples are detailed by ACLOS analysis.
 Someone in the opposition network filmed teenage Ahmad Othman in the pre-dawn dark, apparently where he was killed, in his home with other men. Then he was filmed again in daylight “executed in the street,” as it seemed, at the base of a wall smeared with his blood. It looked as if he was shot and slumped there or, since he was killed elsewhere, like he was tossed against the wall for such an effect. [18]
 Consider also the bedroom scene of a mother apparently died while shielding two of her children with her splayed body. This was seen in two videos where the children (a thoroughly brutalized and bloodied child of around eight, and a baby with only a foot visible) are arranged differently for no clear reason. She had to be lifted up then laid back on top of them for that. Quite likely, the original dramatic pose was staged for just this emotional effect. [19]
Babies seeming to be hugging each other as the bullets tore into them are probably the same type of engineered heart-string tuggings, by twisted people playing with props that used to be Human Beings.
 Witnesses to Slaughter?
“At least one young boy, Luqman al-Hiris, was beheaded – in front of his mother.”
This boy is apparently part of those killed “in the town square,” here explained and shown as the sloping street near the mosque, where ACLOS has placed the “curbside victims” [20] None of those 13 men and boys was visibly beheaded. They know this boy was killed in front of his mother because old woman Um Mohammed witnessed it, from some hiding spot we presume. She says he was the youngest, and one boy has a large torn-out hole in his neck/jaw, but that’s not the same, and most likely a bullet exit wound.
The mentioned family name just barely appears in the previous record. If al-Hiris is the same as Alhris, it appears on the big list of 165, attached to two men – Mohammed Ali and Ali Mohammed, and no one else. There’s no Luqman, and no mother. The opposition CDV entries are lacking for any such name in Arabic or identifiable transliterations. [21]
Another victim, a pregnant woman, was reportedly sliced open to kill the fetus inside. This horrible allegation comes from previous reports – a rebel from Baniyas saw the aftermath – and a photo of an unborn fetus, wrapped in white and said to be a martyr in al-Bayda. This alleged surgery must have happened after she was filmed pregnant and intact by rebels, if she’s the one called Safaa here. That may not be the case, but there can’t be many pregnant women expected from such a small pool of the populace. [22]
Anyway, if there was beheading involved, as alleged here, that would add to the existing picture of bladed Islamo-nihilists, inscribing their bleak world view into the flesh of those caught in their path. There’s also Sara, a 12-year-old girl who survived somehow, probably by hiding. She says she later found the body of her tortured and murdered father, throat sliced. Again, this is a crime we haven’t seen clearly in the visual record, but there are the pierced throats of the woman and children at least.
That seems to be Sara at the start of the video rattling off a list of memorized names of massacre victims. With unusual sophistication, she calls for intervention by the outside world: “”They have slaughtered all of us … The world should pay attention about what is happening in al-Bayda. Why is everyone asleep? Why don’t they do something?” This is extremely reminiscent of Ali al-Sayed, an 11-year-old miracle survivor of the infamous false-flag Houla massacre a year before. He also had some names memorized, but switched them from one relative to another, along with all relevant details of his shifting story. He was clearer in his “demand that the international community stop the killing in Syria & in Houla …  We’re being killed in our homes. The international community … must fight for us, do what they say, and protect us.” [23]
 Enough Silence!
(from the video, 10 :25) “The Syrian Government denies any massacre took place.”
 That’s not true. First, loyalist sources – not government ones – have been clear about there being some scale of civilian massacre. One told Voice of Russia “the military offensive” blamed for the killings “was started in response to the brutal assassination of Sheikh Omar Baniyasi [sic].” [24]  All the clues for massacres in the night of May 1-2 are consistent with this. But perhaps to avoid panicking the people there, or for whatever reason one might imagine, the government itself has been pretty quiet. SANA and government sources have said little to nothing about civilian massacres one way or the other, only speaking of chasing out terrorists and restoring order. The claim that their forces only killed terrorists is not a claim that there were no civilian killings – just any such thing was not done by the army or its allies.
 While the government’s relative silence is taken as a sign of guilt, everyone else has been allegedly silent, evidencing moral weakness, this emotive propaganda would leave us feeling. As Sara said, “the world should pay attention about what is happening in al-Bayda.” I’ll second that, while adding that it should be close and critical attention, as if the real truth mattered,  regardless of what the gatekeepers have decided, as if human lives were on the line and mattered more than the goals of the destroy-Syria-and-Iran camp of the “World Community” and its deadly “Human Rights” weapons. 
Notes :
[1] “Al-Bayda: Anatomy of a War Crime.” Filmed, Produced and Directed by James Brabazon, Channel 4 News, September 13, 2013.
[2] “Syria : One Year After the Houla Massacre. New Report on Official vs. Real Truth.” (by the author) Global Research, May 18, 2013.
[3] “Syrian forces responsible for Banias massacres: U.N. report.” By Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, September 11, 2013.
[5] ACLOS, Arab Worlds List :
[6] “Targetting Specific Communities in the Syrian Conflict: case study, the Baniyas massacres.” (by the author)
[9] ACLOS, Ayrout, Latakia Massacres:
[12] Terrorists Killed, Weapons Seized in Banias Villages Syrian Arab News Agency, May 2, 2013.
[13] ACLOS, early clashes, where are the Shabiha ?
[14] ACLOS, night-mornin sequences :
[15] ACLOS, imagery timeline :
[23] “Fight for Us” And Other Things Ali Said: Houla Massacre Star Witness
Reconsidered (by the author) Article 3 in this PDF report:
[24] In Baniyas is peaceful and calm – witness Voice of Russia, May 4, 2013.