Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Majid Abu Draa: #CaesarPhotos Victim Profile

Majid Abu Draa: #CaesarPhotos Victim Profile
February 13, 2016
updates 9-16-2018

Entry 45 on the SHRC list of the first 100 identified "Caesar" photo victims is Majid Abu Draa’(known as Abu Obaidah), from Rural Damascus - Dumar. Abu __ of course means father of __, and is often a fighter name or pseudonym, but can also appear in real family names - named Abu Draa, known as Abu Obaidah? Sure, this can happen. It could also be a clue this isn't his real name, but we don't need specific clues to wonder anyway.

The VDC lists as martyrs a total of 2 men of this name (as Abo Draa - أبو دراع ), both from the same area: Dummar, Damascus (Arabic: دمر  - here on Wikimapia). Both were, it says, killed under detention with torture and both with date of death unknown accurately. Majed was identified from the "Caesar" photos on March 9, 2015 (just before their public release?) and Alaa on March 20. Both entries include a photo. 

Alaa could be hard to match with a SAFMCD entry, with searchable red number cropped off and  forehead writing unclear ... 185? ... oh, lucky break ... 1852/215 is processed and matches. Folder date 3-2013 - not a death date but clue of unknown reliability. He was starved a bit and left mildly emaciated, and with damaged eyes. No obvious similarity to our main subject ... he's younger-seeming than Majed - could be a son, little brother, nephew, other or no relation.

Majed's entry has the photo inset at right, seen in the hospital instead of the garage morgue like Alaa. This seems to be the case mostly with the earliest victims in 2011 and 2012. He displays unusual redness with some yellow patches - possibly a clue, but one of few, to how he died.  No violence is evident above the shoulders.
What's most interesting is his SAFMCD match - there are two of them, in two different military intelligence branch folders, both using their stamped version of the same cropped photo at right.
* photo code 706348 "215 Raids Branch" branch victim# 1075, folder 1-7-2012. The (1) suggests this is photo 1 in a series of him. 
* 480324 "227 area branch (Damascus)" branch victim# 251, folder 3-7-2012, photo (3) (it's the same exact photo, but slightly more zoomed-in, and a different code # attached) 

So he's listed as killed by two distinct branches with two different numbers, but at the same basic time (folder dates may mean start of compiling, end of compiling, or other - and then photos from any time could be inserted if "Caesar" wanted it that way). The SAFMCD could address this by saying they inserted the wrong photo for one - after all, why would views 2 and 3 of the same man be exactly the same? But then why the consistent date? Was he swapped in for someone else in 3-7 folder? So that victim's photo is missing now?
Below is the full photo the above was cropped from, linked from a SNHR report. Supposed to show "tubes" attached to victims, this instead shows electrodes, likely to test his heart - to make sure the torture was as fatal as planned? He's also suffered a burned right hand, with cream applied, and bandages on three injuries or possibly surgery points, to the left side and each shoulder. Most likely, this man did register as alive when he first arrived at what seems to be Hospital 601. Notes on his side (unreadable?).

215-1075 In Context 
(for basics on the number system, different numbers, military intelligence branches, etc. see FC5 - trying to follow the following without that can be confusing - I'll try to summarize and bold the main points)

In the dispute above over which MI branch killed Majed, the above photo helps ... or not. The branch 215 number, 1075, seems to be the one they were staging at the time, written across the card (1075 looks like   ١٠٧٥) - they seem to have him holding the card himself, for an unusual and maybe disrespectful twist.

By this, he was arrested by the same branch as Alaa, but 800 people earlier, and killed nearly a year earlier.

But this is an unusual card - it's not blurred, for one thing. Then it has a single number 1075 with a line underneath, and under that no branch  number. 215 looks like "cIo" but instead we see a curve like maybe the letter  ب  (b sound - used as a suffix in later photos), or like the unseen next letter ث. used on the very last bodies in mid-2013. But enhanced, it looks more like the letter ن with "n" sound and no known meaning here. Or an unknown curve...

Back to 1075: Usually, a single number like that is a hospital/body/medical report number, not a branch victim #. A body # like that would put him ... not many examples, but earlier than these two if that's not a B
* hosp# 2102 (green ink)     215-311-1-11-2012 (3)    extremely starved, Zaman photo face match
* hosp# 2129 (per HRW report)  215-320-1-11-2012 (2)     Ayham Ghazzoul, died Nov. 9, 2012, dentist and human rights activist.
This would put him safely before the November 1 folder, at the slower body rate then, perhaps back around July.
And if that were a B (I don't think so), he'd be near 1127/b - 215-2119-4-6-2013.
This might be a seam of a sloppy effort to backdate a high victim number, forgetting he was already numbered in a different folder. In fact, put in sequence, he seems jammed into it. Below, a section of my partial assembly of screen grabs (in progress), gives a feel for the progression in this span.

He and a few others with close numbers (1071 1072 1074), set a trend of early hospital views dated 1 July like him. But these sit among 1,000 range victims dated December. We know group shots always show consecutive numbers, suggesting the number is just from order of death or discovery. But here two batches in the same range are shown as killed months apart, and intermixed. 

Suggested between "Caesar" and SAFMCD allegations, and this sequence is:
- these victims were arrested whenever in this order
- those few were killed in June or so
- the rest were held six more months before they were killed around December.

Does this apparent timeline glitch actually prove their explanation that this is an ID# based on arrest/arrival date? Usually that means they're being killed off in the same order they arrive after a uniform delay, but these would prove sometimes they were done out-of-order - just enough to barely prove "Caesar's" case?

No. Doesn't it make at least as much sense that these numbers are just made up? Note how even without a complete spread we can see at least 2 carefully-assigned victim numbers were repeated there - 1071 and 1072 were duplicated along the way ... and then 1123 as well, and more may emerge as this fills in. What are the odds they issued these 3 numbers twice, just to help those early hospital victims fit in with this little trick?

Considering the case above where we can see the number, the best explanation is this: those victims were inserted like Majid was - by re-branding the hospital # as a branch victim #. 

Reported at the Time?
Update, 2018: An Arabic search shows he is listed under detainees (contrary to old material below based on English search). The part after Abu is:
Which is translated Armah or Abarm, meaning "an arm" (?) but the sound is d-r-a-' - so Abu Draa is fine. This is him. But He's Mohammed Majid Abu Draa.

Mohammed Majed Abu Draa The regime forces arrested him from his place of knowledge in Mezze, Damascus. Detained 11-15-2012. Released 11-16-2012. Meaning killed? He was already dead by July, per the folder date anyway. Possibly a different guy.

Mohammed Majed Abu Draa  (Abu Obeida) = the same guy. det. 2012-6-6 but "The date of arrest is not known. Where he was arrested by the regime forces from the hospital of Mowasat with five gunshot wounds." That's a lot to know without knowing when... was he then released? date of release: 00-00-0000. Seen dead before July 1, he has at least 3 patched spots, possible bullet holes (shoulder, shoulder, side). The hand abrasion could be caused by something else...

A couple social media posts mention both arrests:
On Thursday 26/7/2012, Shabiha al-Assad is running over Mr. "Majid Abu Arm" a car belonging to the security forces and then targeted several shots
He was run over and shot five times before they could get him in jail?

2012-11-15 same account, says Al-Assad's forces arrested a young man "Mohammed Majed Abu ' Abarm" from his workplace in Mazzeh
- The Assad forces today arrested the young man "Mohammed Majid Abu Armah" from his workplace in the area of Mazza (Facebook 11-15)

Note: it was November, 2012, when the "Caesar photos" began in earnest, with a very large folder of dead bodies collected that month, and from then on to August, 2013. Someone took out a copyright on the Caesar photos sometime in 2012, probably around October-November. This is also when they decide to mention Mr.Abu Draa's detention again, but putting it as a new event would suggest they didn't thin k dates would matter - they had the photo, could say he died in November. But in the end, he was put in July, not long after that first run-over and shooting arrest.

Old Check, Poss. Relations, poss. earlier arrest
Checking the VDC database for detainees for name Abu Draa = 2 or 3 reported, including neither of these. The translation doesn't work well here, so here's all the main info for 3 entries:
* Fadi Abo Draa: He was arrested by regime forces on a bridge (to?) Dummar 2012-9-18
* Khalid Munther Abu Draa: It is the third time that the arrests where the forces of order for his arrest from the first warm in front of the new railway
* Khaled Abu Draa: from rural Dummar, arrest downtown after severe beatings 2011-7-11

The two Khaleds will probably be the same, reflecting 2 of 3 arrests. The search for name in martyrs, linked above, includes neither of these guys. By VDC records, a total of 4 Abu Draa men from Dummar were arrested - two blamed on the government, not killed that anyone knows - and two others were locked away by someone, not mentioned in opposition sources, and then later appeared dead in the "Caesar" photos.

One source has Majed - or a man of his name - arrested and then released on Sunday, April 1, 2012 (in a discussion thread here) - "Released today for some of the detainees from Dummar (30 detainees), and some of these names," including "Majed Abu Draa (Abu Ahmad)" (not Abu Obaidah, but he could have 2 kids or 2 pseudonyms). They don't clarify who was releasing him from what kind of detention on what charges, and if they did it might have been untrue anyway.

Note how Khaled Abu Draa was arrested three times, and got 2 listings. Yet no such notice for Majid; the VDC does not list anyone of that name as arrested - not a first time to be released April 1, nor any second detention before July 1. But he wound up detained, allegedly by the same forces of order, and was somehow killed at least once by them. But that's alleged. And like so many others of these thousands of victims, this lack of early reporting suggests it was actually anti-government forces that were abducting (the bulk of) the "Caesar" photo victims. As we all know, these sources report regime crimes - true or not - and ignore rebel ones, or better yet ... blame them on the regime.


  1. Total photos = 6,850. All but a very few are victim face-shots, with very few repetitions (at least six cases, but citation needed). Therefore, estimates of alleged detainees of these branches in the mid-to-upper 6,000 range seem well supported.


    Most of the victims were young men and many corpses were emaciated, bloodstained and bore signs of torture. Some had no eyes; others showed signs of strangulation or electrocution.
    Caesar told the investigators his job was "taking pictures of killed detainees". He did not claim to have witnessed executions or torture.

    enforced disappearances 58.976 males since March 2011 and until August 2015

    A chart of the distribution of the number of forcibly disappeared persons
    since March 2011 and until August 2015


    the Caesar Photos The first release on January 20 2014
    at least 6,786 separate dead individuals each with their own unique identification numbers."
    "There are multiple photographs of each body, typically four to five but ranging between three to more than twenty. SAFMCD, which reviewed the entire collection and logged the photographs by individual body, found that these 28,707 photographs correspond to at least 6,786 separate dead individuals each with their own unique identification numbers."

    1. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/02/independent-report-shows-that-syrian-government-violence-has-been-exaggerated.html

      When the over 160 monitors, after one month of enquiries, issued their report … surprise! The report did not follow the official GCC [i.e Arab League] line – which is that the “evil” Bashar al-Assad government is indiscriminately, and unilaterally, killing its own people, and so regime change is in order.

      On 19 January 2012, the Syrian government stated that 3569 detainees had been released from military and civil prosecution services. The Mission verified that 1669 of those detained had thus far been released. It continues to follow up the issue with the Government and the opposition, emphasizing to the Government side that the detainees should be released in the presence of observers so that the event can be documented.
      The Mission has validated the following figures for the total number of detainees that the Syrian government thus far claims to have released:
      • Before the amnesty: 4,035
      • After the amnesty: 3,569.
      The Government has therefore claimed that a total of 7,604 detainees have been released.
      The Mission has verified the correct number of detainees released and arrived at the following figures:
      • Before the amnesty: 3,483
      • After the amnesty: 1,669
      The total number of confirmed releases is therefore 5152. The Mission is continuing to monitor the process and communicate with the Syrian Government for the release of the remaining detainees.

      15 Jan 2012
      President Bashar al-Assad announced a general amnesty for crimes committed since the start of the uprising against his rule last March, saying offenders had until the end of January to turn themselves in. But two previous amnesty offers had little effect, only spurring on the revolutionaries, who have since seized control of parts of major cities
      Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, which led the Arab involvement in the Libyan conflict, said he now favoured sending troops "to stop the killing", the first Arab leader to say so publicly.


  2. Despite trumpeting the entrance of Arab League monitors as a major milestone, the corporate media seemed to lose interest when the feedback did not portray Assad’s government as a bloodthirsty genocidal regime engaged in organized repression.

    Thursday, 24 Oct, 2013
    An unconfirmed number of female prisoners were released by the Syrian government on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a three-way detainee swap brokered by Qatar and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Asharq Al-Awsat has learnt.

  3. The UN experts who investigated the evidence in Eastern Ghouta were only granted access to the area after they agreed to work under the “protection” of guards, which had been chosen by Liwa-al-Islam commander and Saudi intelligence agent
    Zahran Alloush.

    Tahrir Souri 2014: Meanwhile, in the South of Syria, rebels under Zahran Alloush’s Jaysh al-Islam and Soldiers of Damascus are moving towards Abbasseyeen Square from the Damascus suburb of Jobar .

    Liwa_al-Islam Commander and Chemical Waeapon Expert Zahran Alloush has been working for Saudi Intelligence since the 1980s

    Washington D.C – Zahran Alloush has been a prime suspect in the abduction of Razan Zeitoune and her colleagues, Samira al-Khalil, Wael Hamadeh, and Nazem Hammadi. On December 9, 2013, in the Damascus suburb of Duma, an unknown group attacked Razan’s office and kidnapped her and her team.

    Al Jazeera journalist Nir Rosen reported that many of the deaths reported daily by activists are in fact armed insurgents falsely presented as civilian deaths, but confirmed that real civilian deaths do occur on a regular basis.[19] A number of Middle East political analysts, including those from the Lebanese Al Akhbar newspaper, have also urged caution.[20][21][22]

    In May 2013, SOHR stated that at least 41,000 of those killed during the conflict were Alawites.[26] By April 2015, reportedly a third of the country's 250,000 Alawites that were of fighting age had been killed.[27]

    As revealed in a Dec. 26 statement from the La-Rouche Political Action Committee (LPAC) titled
    “Brits Are Source of All Accounts of Syrian Deaths,” the operation centers around three inter-twined organizations: the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Strategic Resource and Communications Centre, and a satellite television broadcast operation in London called Barada TV LPAC’s release, which has been posted on blogs around the world says:”The Syrian Human Rights Observatory is the single source for all Western press accounts, including those of UN Human Rights Commission head Navi Pillay and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,


    SOHR is “virtually a one-man band”.
    He apparently relies on four unnamed men inside Syria who assist him, along with over 200 unnamed informants. Obviously, the major problem with these unnamed activists is that they are anonymous, meaning the media has absolutely no idea who these people are, or if they even exist.

    1. This comment might be relevant - Jaish al-Islam,or Liwa al-Islam at the time, is a prime suspect for killing the "Caesar" photo victims.

  4. May 12, 2014, Syria rebels to free 1,500 families for food, prisoners: report
    Syrian rebels have agreed to free 1,500 families in exchange for food and the release of jailed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, a newspaper close to his regime said Monday.

    The reported agreement involves the release of families held by rebels in Adra, a flashpoint town northeast of Damascus currently under siege by government troops.

    Under the deal, food supplies would be allowed into Adra, and an unspecified number of people held in regime jails would be set free, in exchange for the release of the 1,500 families held in the town, said Al-Watan.

    June 7, 2014
    Activists in the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition watchdog based in Britain, confirmed the release.
    The group also reported that 400 men and 80 women held on terrorism charges were to be released from Adra Prison, located in an industrial area nine miles northeast of the capital, Damascus, where sectarian massacres had taken place in December 2013. By Friday, more than 20 prisoners had reportedly been freed. 

    Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) have executed dozens of prisoners being held at a children’s hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The hospital had been used by ISIS as their headquarters until they were forced into retreat by other opposition groups. In recent weeks the jihadists and more moderate brigades have been fighting against each other as well as against President Assad’s forces.

    Wed Dec 17, 2014 Over 120,000 pro-Assad fighters killed in Syria conflict: monitoring group
    In total, more than 200,000 people have been killed and millions more have fled their homes.

  5. February 17, 2015 The Syrian regime forces transferred hundreds of political prisoners from Adra central prison in Damascus to other detention centers in Syria, including the central prisons of Hamah, Sweida, Tartous, Homs and Latakia.
    Speaking to ARA News in Damascus, civil rights activist Ahmed Sabbagh said that the pro-regime forces moved about 1500 prisoners from the Central Prison of Adra in Damascus suburb to other prisons in other Syrian cities, “after the battles between Assad forces and opposition fighters started to approach the town of Adra”.


    Jul 18, 2015 Syria frees more than 200 prisoners in Eid gesture

    23 August 2015
    Insurgents shell main prison near Syrian capital, killing 10

    October 7, 2015 Fears Grow For Safety of Imprisoned Syrian Open Source Developer, Bassel Khartabil
    Bassel sent his letters from Adra prison, a civilian jail in the northeast outskirts of Damascus.
    The prison was designed for 2,500 and now houses 9-11,000 prisoners

  6. January 19, 2016
    Syrian rebels exchanged several hostages with the extremist group of Islamic State (ISIS) in Damascus, military sources reported on Monday. 
    The Army of Islam (Jaish al-Islam), one of the main Syrian rebel groups fighting in Damascus province, has exchanged 11 hostages with ISIS. 
    “We have freed 11 ISIS fighters after the group agreed to release 11 civilians, including media activists, who have been taken as hostages by ISIS last month,” said Islam Alloush, spokesman of the Army of Islam rebel group.
    “All the hostages released by ISIS were civilians from Yalda neighborhood of Damascus suburb,” he said.Alloush added that the rebels had captured dozens of ISIS jihadis subsequent to clashes earlier in December.
    The exchange operation took place on Monday at the Ouruba square in Beirut Street, southern Damascus. 

  7. Hey there's A and some comments. Been a while. If you're the same anonymous. How's things? ... will review...


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