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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Confirming a Child's Suspicious Neck Wound

Idlib Chemical Massacre 4-4-17
Islamist Massacre
Confirming a Child's Suspicious Neck Wound
August 29. 2017
(last edits Sept. 2)

It's taken me a while to resolve this problem, but now it's solid.

On day one we noticed the significance of head-wounded children in this photo, my labels added: all but one of these five kid shows some suspicious violence to the head, face, or neck, that seems likely fatal in at least one and maybe three cases. Considering other clues and precedent in past incidents I've looked into, it's very likely these children were executed when "Assad's sarin" was too slow to do it.

Since then, - the girl has been confirmed as arriving with no such wound, perhaps alive but unmoving, to get some kind of help from the White Helmets and their allies. Instead, she later developed this horrible gash and was certainly dead. Another boy also arrived unmarked for treatment by the White Helmets (I think one not included in this photo), but they failed to save him from the "sarin" either, nor from some nasty facial scrapes, at least. (see two smoking gun head wounds)

Less noticeable - but I caught it right away - the oldest boy in the middle of that photo may have a different wound. He appears around 13 years old, and would probably be considered a man by Islamists. (by proximity to other Imadeddin Al-Qadah victims, he's probably be Mohamed Imad Al-Qadah, age 12, as Qoppa999 suggests). That could mean he would be executed differently in a massacre situation; I've seen suggestions before that men will be shot, or have their throats cut, while children will be head-hacked, or often strangled (and women tend to just not be shown, or even listed, or proven to not be sold off as a fundraiser...). That impression may not mean much, or it could be just why Mohamed (as I call him now) has red on the neck instead of on the head.

<add 8/30>Consider for one relevant example: an adult male survivor of the 2013 Ghouta alleged sarin attack. He apparently had his throat cut open right in the morgue by his rebel saviors, and had that covered up, none-too-well in fact. What we see here in the middle of Ghouta II, being a man outsiders would consider a boy ... it seems they've learned and adapted better methods, with the addition of expert help from the White Helmets et al. See below.)<end 8/30>

Quick support: as Mohamed is seen laid out with other children in a pickup on top of a blue blanket, he happens to have a blood-colored stain right under his neck. (at right, black circle, compared to unstained color in the blue circles).

It doesn't appear to be a usual jugular cut, probably just a hole, from this, either to the back or the left side of his neck. A skilled killer could well access it from this less-obvious angle, and cause a swift bleeding death. Note that in most other images, the left side is carefully hidden, his head often turned sharply to the left and even tucked into his shoulder as in that verification view.

First photo, truck video: time somewhat unclear, but probably before 10 am. But the image at right above is from another scene, where his neck isn't as hidden. In another view, we can see his face enough to verify a match by facial bruise (besides the face and hair pattern matches). From the start, I saw a bruise on his left cheek, consistent with a punch and not really with shelling. It looked like possible shadows at first, but really seemed too blue. Most views hide the left side of his face just as they do the left side of his neck. But I just saw a photo including him (Kobs tweet)  where we can see well enough to verify the bruise.  That's some lucky shelling - perhaps bruised his face like a punch would, and maybe pierced his jugular, causing no other marks we see, leaving him looking, from most angles, like an unscathed chemical victim.

A video of this scene: the bruise matches, and we can see he's wearing nothing, but is associated (barely covered) with turquoise shorts, and no shirt at all - left side of his neck is visible here, but no blood!  Nor do I see any sign of it in the water pooled under his neck.

Careful measurement of solar elevation suggested a video of this scene was about or a bit under 50 degrees. Michael Kobs and I both measured it and got the same angle. That would put the time at 10:40am or actually a few minutes earlier (foreshortening - the difference once placed on the clock is very small). 

Later, Andrew (in comments) noted a wristwatch - it seems to say 11:40 (hands nearest to the 8 and 12), so maybe a confirmation, if he's set an hour ahead?

Anyway, it's later by far than the other images, and he's apparently not bleeding from the right side, as it seemed. And there's no sign of blood in the water under his neck at all. Would any serious wound stop bleeding on its own that quickly? I publicly admitted being stumped, tweeting this graphic summary a while back.

So either it's all a coincidence, maybe the one video was altered (no, I never argue this except once, out of hundreds of cases). Or it's the still unseen back of his neck that was cut, and somehow it's not bleeding by 10:40? That's where I left it.  Now, we have enough of an answer to continue.

First, to complete the above picture: Mohamed is seen at the end of this SMART News video being loaded along with other children into a van, ostensibly for more serious treatment at some hospital. He's seen briefly as Qoppa 999 noticed; the same skinny kid in blue shorts and apparently his shirt, in some state that's maybe not quite on... His neck is not seen, but his head may flop back more than it should, and the loading might be almost too swift, like they don't want us getting too much of a glimpse. He has mud on the right-back quadrant of his head, meaning he's been laid down in the mud already, and at some point, the left side of his neck was turned up and visible.

I happened to review this same SMART News video just now and I can say his neck is bleeding in that last image, unless it stopped suddenly.

At 1:20 we may see the famed star witness Abdelhamid Al-Yousef (to be added here), conscious but playing sleepy until the water spray hits him. Good solar timing will help say when this is and how it fits with his story. Coming soon.

But to the left is another set of clues. Considering what we have above, the details here should need little narration at this point, but I'll add some anyway, beneath it.

He came in wearing a jacket that's lost quickly, already with no pants or shoes, and there goes his shirt. He's laid here with mostly men; the medics, like maybe his killers, consider him an adult. Just have a look at the copious blood first across the other guy's arm, soaking into the black sleeve (where Mohamed's neck had rested?), and then into the water a bit to the left (after he was moved?), and now into the mud out of view a bit more to the left (after he was moved again? 8/30 note: probably just one move by both - they guy who complained about the boy bleeding on his arm also shifted to the right of where they were (the blood in the water spot).

See the White Helmets guy worrying about the blood, tearing up the boy's shirt, maybe trying to wrap it around his neck, finding it doesn't tear so easily. About 25 seconds later, the boy is hurried into the van with children, as seen above, with the shirt-bandage situation still not clarified.  (Was that someone else' call to put the 12/13-year-old with the kids? Or is it just this bleeding emergency that has him loaded in whatever is closest?)

What was that White Helmets guy trying to do here? Patch up a bleeding kid to save his life, as they rushed to save him and others from the poison gas? Why use a shirt instead of bandages, give up halfway through, and just stuff him in a van to bleed on the other kids? Or was he just trying to conceal the fact that this one was already dead, and had a suspicious neck wound that could be the cause? I think it's the latter option.

Somewhere after this, prior to 10:40 when he's seen again with the men, they got some solution that stopped the bleeding from the back of Mohamed's neck, without being visible from either side. Just what, I don't know, and maybe it just stopped bleeding (seems unlikely - this will be low on the body as laid, and prone to passive bleeding long after the pulse has stopped.) But that must be it, as it's now abundantly clear he was bleeding heavily from the back of the neck. 

<add 8-30>It seems the solution they found for Mohamed's bleeding is partly visible. Orbi on Twitter (@kwo_vadis) insisted there was some gauze or bandaging visible behind or around the boy's ear in that non-bleeding view. I argued it was just the sky reflecting off the water under his neck. But on closer view now, I think it's partly reflection, but mainly part of the bandage. It's visible here either under his earlobe, or perhaps on or attached to it. From there it has a fairly straight edge (like a patch of gauze might have), but the whole assembly likely wraps around however far to the still-unseen wound. Small point: maybe all those white pixels are bandage, but the hue difference, and the apparent angle between them, suggests two the patch marked in orange is the edge of the reflection I thought all of this was.

Implication: the boy was probably dead from before the first images, quite likely from this neck wound. If so, this bandaging was never meant to save or help him. But maybe that's not so, and they were trying to save him from the wound or the gas ...it appears unusually applied in such a way as to be almost invisible. That would take extra care, in a very urgent and chaotic scene, and  suggests an important effort to simply make the body more presentable - stop the blood flow, and leave as little clue as possible there ever was one. That would constitute a cover-up, and suggest guilty conscience. I mean, why bother concealing blood from some innocent cause, like shelling or an accident?.

Injury location: this could put the wound behind his ear, but looking back to the first image, it definitely seem more like a neck issue, perhaps even low near the shoulder. Suggested: this part is just an edge of a larger bandage assembly that's mostly unseen, and the wound could be anywhere in the area we don't see. For example,, there could be a thin rope of gauze down the middle, taped at the nape of his neck and between his shoulder blades.<end 8/30>

The injury could be debated to some degree, but ... taking the dark view that had me noticing that blood and his age coming together on day one ... This violent event might have severed his spinal cord, constituting something like an in-place beheading. If they stabbed deep enough, they could cut his jugular vein as well, perhaps without leaving a mark on the front or the sides.

<add 8-30>Or, maybe, there was a vehicle crash on the way here, or an accident while driving down bumpy roads with sharp equipment in the truck, or similar... In fact, I think some have gone to pains to report an ambulance crash or two, and a number of high-speed long-distance emergency runs are reported...

Things like this are worth thinking about for good measure, but they seem so unlikely I just don't have the time for such formalities. We have a suspicious and perhaps fatal neck wound, not too obvious and perhaps, they thought, invisible from the front. It's on the arguably adult child. It's bandaged over, in a manner suggesting coverup, and it's part of this shady-ass incident with so may other problems and exposed lies attached to it. I forward this argument, and I'll leave the second-guessing to others.<end 8/30>

<add 8/31>At 1:16 in the Smart News video, just before the scene described above with the WH guy tearing up Mohamed's shirt... another scene that many have noted as odd. Another White Helmet worker (seemingly senior) reached over and snatches the khafiyeh (headscarf) off an older man. It seemed suspicious to some, or a sign of disrespect perhaps, or likely to be used in some shady staging or coverup. I never made much of this; the old man waves it off, approving the seizure. Maybe it's for a good cause. He may need some kind of bandage ... for some wounded person ... ah. Now I may see just what. Is he worried about the same blood, from the probably dead boy, that they all seem interested in covering up? He comes on frame from the right,  then seems to move behind the cameraman and maybe left towards the boy, perhaps appearing on the left side just as the video cuts.  <end 8/31>

Add 9/1: the wound seen? I checked the SMART news video more carefully, and found a fame that might/should show the wounded are. With some enhancement, a large part of the shaded area seems darker and redder than it should, but not as much as you'd expect. The suggested shape is of a large and fairly rough wound. There should be blood running down, even if he was dabbed dry of it just before this pass near a camera. It's not obvious, but possible we do see this: there's a faint reddish tendency down his back from there - possibly rinsed-off, watered-down blood sliding away. He is dripping wet, as if hosed off one last time less than a second before he's carried to the van.

Add 9/2: I guess the scene isn't as clear to everyone else as it is to me; it's possible to see the blood in the water as a red ribbon, and the possible blood on the guy's sleeve as coincidences unrelated to the bleeding neck boy a few feet away, and the apparent desperation of White Helmets rescuers to find scraps of cloth at this moment. Just made this to highlight the connection and what I think we're seeing: something we weren't supposed to.

The blood area is seen over a span of 9 seconds: here's the earliest and latest frames, enhanced. It doesn't change shape noticeably. But would it? Liquids will blend, but unlike most liquids, blood coagulates.  Might this be a sort of ribbon of clotting blood? It seems flush with the water surface, but on the left side, there's a black dot at the far corner, with faint black lines long the edges from there. I propose this is a spot that clotted more fully, got heavy, and sunk below the surface (which isn't far down, but enough to be invisible now under the tan muck). On the way down, it left a tiny column of water that it cleared of mud particulates, so it appears just dark here in the shadow. 

The basic shape (two blobs) could be: larger pool on the left accumulated first - guy notices soaking into his sleeve (which was right next to this), and tugs to the right as he sees what it is - smaller pool accumulates there before the WH get the bleeding kid off his arm and a ways to the left. Thus freed, the guy pivots far to the right, taking on the strangely bent shape we see.

And for what it's worth (something) I timed this scene by solar elevation to around 7:20 am or a hair earlier, or broadly 7:15-7:25, which is pretty early in the sequence of events.


  1. Interesting!

    I have identified the graves Ahmed Naji pointed to by the way, might find it interesting...


    Kusai al-Yousef named the same graves in the CNN Gasping For Life video. Ahmed ends up at what Kusai says is Molhem's grave but, before that, when Ahmed talks about his friend he is pointing to the graves of Yasser's family.

    Ahmed's story of how Yasser's family were found does not match CNN's 'running to the car' story at all.

    Tying that back to your post, Molhem's picture from VDC looks very similar to the man in white top on which Abdelhamid rests his head: http://imgur.com/CIzcS6k

    1. So you have two sources saying whose graves they are? If so, sounds like little controversy, but maybe worth knowing for various reasons. If you have any visible Arabic text you'd like to verify, I can handle single words and names.

      Is that Molhem? Could well be. Consistent face as far as I can see (not that well), fashion sense, and that smirk says "I might do something devious soon." He's said to die though, and even has a grave? I wouldn't suspect that. He seems in the club who knows to dress warm, might be playing unconscious, but awake enough to notice and complain when a boy is bleeding on his arm, and to then seemingly bend away from that spot.

    2. I'll put this in its own comment: Man, y'know ... you could do well as a blog member, like Petri and Felix are/have been. You couldn't add to my posts, but could draft and manage your own. Imagine...

    3. Thank you -you do a fine job already, more knowledgably than I ever could, not much I could add!

      I'm certain they are the same graves, whether the story is true or not.. there are already 2 versions of how Yasser's family died even before Ahmed Naji's version. http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/07/two-smoking-gun-head-wounds.html?showComment=1504195173681#c776590903716082952

      Can see there are names carved, not sure if they are readable

      Qoppa's twitter thread I think backs up that it is Molhem

      Did you locate the hospitals and morgues in the videos?

    4. No hospitals aside from Rahma (the cave place) located that I know of.

      A post on more conflicting stories would be worthwhile. But as I keep running out of time... just trying to sort out Abdelhamid's stories better at the moment. His spray-down at Rahma is now timed to about 7:20 am, +/- a bit.
      Seems to leave little time for his story, but it needs review.

    5. re-tweeted with finished time graphic: https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/903971173213413376

    6. Better match for Molhem maybe (perhaps other is some relative), lying in back of white van

      Seems to have the same scratches on his nose as post-death photo tweeted by Qoppa



    7. Thanks, that wasn't too clear. Seems he really has a lighter hair color than the IDd guy. Taken over to Qoppa.

  2. The Smart News site says this photo I think the video must be close to https://smartnews-agency.com/images/media/watermarked/2017/04/04/PG0-ID-170404-625/PS0-ID-170404-627/DSC01170.JPG has DateTimeOriginal
    2017:04:04 07:31:41 so I think 7:30am would be about right

    Hopefully we can locate the hospitals then we'd have a pretty complete story for the al-Khaleds, both buildings Anas is taken into are next to main roads I think, just not sure of the town. As far as I've got:

    Has concrete barrier in middle of road - main road?

    Trees in middle of road, tall buildings in background - main road?

    Metal tower, distinctive building, Idlib Health Directorate logo on building so clinic outside of Khan Sheikhoun?

    1. metadata on the photo: and great photos for the case - over here I don't see the time you mention. It says modified (stamped SMART?) at 1:16:45 AM (my time?) so 11:16 am in Syria? In the url is PG0-ID-170404-625/PS0-ID-170404-627. 625 and 627 could be times that could fit, if the camera's clock was an hour behind. But where is 7:31?

      barrier scene: I think Maarat al-Numan (video said to be there looks similar) Photo does the same: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/File:Khan_Sheikhoun_-_White_helmets_ambulance_at_Maaret_al-Numan_hospital.jpg

      trees scene: seen that spot, I think in KS, but never seen it placed

      tower scene, don't know.

    2. On the Smart News website https://smartnews-agency.com/ar/album/225625#33623

      scroll down past the line of photos in the album and on the left is a tab called "EXIF" with (presumably) the original Exif data for the highlighted photo.

      Found that this RTS set also has the metadata but to get at it you need to click a photo then delete everything from ? onwards and just load the jpg https://rfsmediaoffice.com/2017/04/04/60449/

      The date is April 3rd.. I assume the camera was set wrong but make of that what you will!

    3. Thanks. I suppose vertical foreshortening makes the guy taller vs. his shadow, for a steeper angle/later time. These photos are from just after - likely same person, switching cameras - so probably the scene is 7:30.

      The 625 and 627 after "ID" numbers might mean photo #625 (saved?) of 627 (taken?) ... on that day? Since it was first used? Tried to look up what these labels mean, but gave up easily. It's a very minor issue.

    4. tower scene: isn't it the same as seen ay 0:45 here? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npB9Cz9Kxn4

      If so, I did have a tentative placement. Shadows suggested a certain street angle, with some matching details along the best-fitting street, just southwest of the tel. Not sure it's a match, and I didn't notice a tower like that, but worth a look around N, E

    5. Thanks, that is the same street but I'm not sure that is the right location (or if it is even in KS!). Right at the very end of this video you can see after the building by the tower is a wall that sticks out with a gate

      It could be close to the scenes in the RFS photos which is next to a mosque

      Not sure if this was in the same place, top right the building has a gold dome

      Hospital with 7 Up machine outside, AJ has a long video with some shots of the street

    6. I think 7 Up hospital might be on Google maps as Salam hospital in Ma'arat al-Numan (not 100% but from what I can see it seems to match)

      So Anas al-Khaled would be arriving there at (very) roughly 8:20 am


  3. Trying to match things in the video to the Al-Salam hospital (in blue)


    Surrounding roads, shapes seem to match.

    Might be worth exploring the relationship between the head of the White Helmets in Khan Sheikhoun Mustafa Al Hajj Yousef and the other Yousefs (recent picture - https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-OsoFj9BW_Mo/WZ2yaq6LfmI/AAAAAAAAAG8/OOZbE1GK3XUh8IzTWY58tLq4XsuxO7hCgCLcBGAs/s1600/mustafa_al_hajj_yousef.jpg )

    Alleged he has some connections http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/12/10/exclusive-president-raed-salehs-terrorist-connections-within-white-helmet-leadership/


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