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Friday, March 2, 2012

Khamis Brigade Shed Massacre: Minimum Security?

March 2, 2012

This post will analyze the security barn doors that kept the Yarmouk prisoners in check until they were also being shot.At that time, they reportedly stampeded and escaped alive to tell the tale in, literally, the scores. Why didn't they break out earlier? How amazingly secure are the doors?

Analyzing the security situation also requires considering the hole in the wall, which we already have at that link. This other cited exit, and a genius one, offered escape not just from the shed but from the whole compound. It was also never used to flee prior to the massacre, either because it didn't exist, or it did (as "Omar" at least said) but the prisoners were idiots. Accounts vary.

Here, we'll look at the doors "Omar" offered 200,000 Dinars to have a guard open (the offer was spoken through the hole in the wall), which kept upto 150 people from escaping for days and months.

It's a three-part door system. The two outer doors are large, rather flimsy metal panels, about six feet wide and twelve tall, with open grating at the top. These we'll call west (left when facing the doors from outside) and east. The east door has a smaller door, apparently of a sturdier metal, inset in its west (inner) half. This is always shown wide open. From the outside only its hinges are visible, and from the inside, it's swung flat against and looking like the inside of the outer door.

The first thing we noticed, and contributor Petri Krohn brought it up, was the door latches often seen in passing suggest the handles to open the thing were on the inside. I had just finished ridiculing claims, from a prison just down the road, that some of the cells had handles on the inside. The question may be the same in both cases: why wouldn't they have opened them prior to the attempted mass killing?

Here are the images and the items of interest. The video and photo labels referred to are linked below for original context.

Items, A-G
A - latch mechanism, accessible from inside. Apparently how the smaller inset door latched to the outer one. If not locked on the outside, the door could probably be opened from within.
B - Another latch mechanism? This seems to be where the large doors connect. Plate 3 (??) left side may show the twin on the other door, and even the engaged latch between them. Disconnected on bottom side. Bend in the door frame starts here.
C - sliding bolt on outside of small door, a swinging handle that winds up on top, and above that a pivot lever and clasp, presumably to hold the handle so the bolt stays extended. By this, the door could surely be secured, from the outside, with a lock holding the clasp to the lever.
D - pin holding east door fast to the ground.
E - bar on the inside of the large doors. I don't know what this was for.
F - rectangular thing hanging on a twisted thing attached to E
G - flat metal bars sticking in near the top and bottom of the inside adge of the opened doorway. These are probably some kind of door guides or whatever, not likely very relevant here

D holds the east door to the ground, B or perhaps E/F holds/held the east and west doors together (?), A and/or C fastened the inset door. It apparently has security potential, but it's still not an obvious choice for a prison, and all the other problems remain...

Note the warped door fame as seen in plates 5 and 6.  The west door is either bent out at the top by force, bent just from being unable to close, from the warped roof. The east door's inner beam, in contrast, is bent in, starting at the lock thing B. There's even a crack or chip at about that point.  The bottoms of the doors (plate 2) show a similar divergence. It's not clear if the west door is pushed in or the east pulled out.

Crude efforts to break in? Why didn't they just use the hole in the wall?

photo sources:
BL6 Benjamin Lowy.
DB1: Daniel Berehulak.
RH1 Ron Haviv.
YK2 Yuri Kozyrev
Unknown (plate 3), from a Chinese page

VAF AljwahrFreeMedia17 amateur video
Sky News
RT Arabic / VRT

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