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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Assad Files 2018, Part 2

Assad Files 2018, Part 2
3 More nails in the Coffin
September 8, 2018

In part 1 I considered what Channel 4's latest (on Youtube) calls "perhaps the biggest breakthrough of all" - a memo that SEEMS to refer to a detainee or "terrorist" who dies and is given the number 2668, and that turns up in the Caesar photos at the right basic time. But with 95% redacted, someone's translation of the rest intervening, and whatever question there is to original authenticity … it's hard to really say how the  lines up - but not to CIJA's Bill Wiley.

But that was just the most potentially helpful part of what they shared, with three other documents raised to illustrate their case as strongly as possible.

Other New Evidence of the Systematic Abuse

Orders to NOT Abuse Detainees

The program cites one memo, from August 27, 2013, that "stresses how the detainees shouldn’t be beaten, humiliated or detained arbitrarily." Is that meant to be read sarcastically, or written in code? Maybe not; "it goes on to acknowledge: “Certain errors made by some Department branches were reviewed, including: (Arbitrary detention… the use of intensity, beating, and torture of detainees ….etc.), emphasising the imperative of averting these issues.” Note the ellipses (…) suggesting other errors were noted, but they were more boring. These are the worst they included in this top-secret internal document. There are a heck of a lot of alleged abuses - mass starvation, neglect, bizarre tortures, deliberate mass extermination of thousands, etc. - not included there as "errors." Depending on the reality of events, these abuses could be:
- done right (not an error)
- Made up, including maybe with a lot of faked photographs (no)
- Done by someone else, to people not even in the government's jails

Anyway, they might be talking in indecipherable code you can guess your own meaning for, but on August 27, 2013, the "genocidal regime" sent out these guidelines, as the select translation says...
This is one more example of at least two found of abuses acknowledged, and in both cases the abuse is denounced and ordered to end. An order to not even beat up the detainees, highlighted as evidence of the cold plan ... TO abuse and in fact systematically exterminate all their innocent prisoners (see below). Or, as Wiley is quick to clarify, such "mistakes" cannot be just mistakes. In a police state like Assad's, they must have been ordered - somehow, he presumes. And these documented efforts to "correct" the "errors" were just too little too late anyway. The arbitrary intensity they ordered a stop and no start to is enough to classify as war crimes, Wiley smirks.

Note that this memo, on August 27, comes about a week after "Caesar" says he faked his death and fled with his trove of morgue photos. Were they worried he was alive, and would leak their secret torture system? Or that he would leak and misrepresent all those terrorism victims they'd been documenting but keeping quiet about? For good measure, or in a coincidence, they sent out these guidelines at this time.

Keeping Clean, Saving Lives

They have more! A third document is cited so:
A memo of one meeting of Military Intelligence officers in 2013 reiterates how detainees should be treated: “It is imperative to attend to the cleanliness of the prison and all its facilities, and the hygiene and health of detainees…to preserve lives and reduce deaths which have considerably risen lately.”
Wiley is salivating at an admission of deaths in prison - plural - and a number that was rising. Was it from 1 or 2 a month previously up to 5 or 10? Or more like 1,000 a month? Unclear. He seizes on their desire to "minimize" deaths rather than "eliminate" them. But jails here with no terrorist insurgency running don't even maintain a 0% inmate death rate, and would hardly bother trying for it. People die, some of them in custody. It's an issue you try to minimize within reason.

We're supposed to compare these nicey-nice words to the Caesar photos, having already linked them to this system in our minds, and be aghast at the sick contrast of words and reality. Let's go ahead and compare, but ask - do they even refer to the same things in the first place? Did these thousands of men and boys really die in the jails these guys have some deaths in? You're supposed to presume they did, not wonder about it. But let's go ahead and wonder.

If these are the prisoners they talk about, ...Did they think to maybe feed them food? There's no order to starve them mentioned as found, and otherwise, most people understand you're on the hook to at least feed someone you've locked up. Yet the vast majority of prisoners come in to the morgue photos starved-looking to some degree, and often severe. Did they think to let the detainees bathe, ever? Or have any access to medicine? Many illnesses will contribute to such wasting, but did that many get that ill? Many have the sunken eyes and vanishing teeth and pale gums of scurvy and advanced malnutrition. They appear badly dehydrated as well, perhaps even denied drinking water. And they look horribly neglected, with unkept hair, various open sores, etc. People are left for long periods tied up by the rotting feet, most of them seemingly hanging upside down in their last moments as many of them clearly coughed up mucous and blood across their faces for still-mysterious reasons, suffered corrosive skin damage, and developed red, damaged eyes with strange yellow crust in the corners. …

It may not be true, but it is alleged this happened in regime prisons, often in accounts reflecting the photos, as if they really witnessed that all happening - or just saw the photos.

For example, "Marwan, Abu Anas" says in a VDC report he was detained at Branch 215 where "[the prisoners] didn't look like human; they were walking skeletons. Ulcerations were all over their bodies. Those who were thrown on the floor were swimming in a pool of blood and pus that ooze out of their bodies due to the lack of sanitizers and hygienic conditions." Baby-faced Mansour al-Omari swears he was covered in bugs and sores, and maybe even starved down, while he shared a cell with Nabil Sharbaji. That didn't keep them from the ridiculous 82-names list adventure, and Nabil's letters continuing well past his death ...luckily for the history books and holocaust museums...

Mazen Hamada told the New Yorker how in early 2013, after nearly a year of detention, an infection in his eye was dripping pus. The skin on his legs was gangrenous," and he was "urinating blood" before he was finally transferred to Military hospital 601, which was even worse - a "slaughterhouse" Many activists and supposed survivors have in fact claimed Hospital 601 really was a slaughterhouse inside, people shackled in filth, rotting away just inside before they were dragged out to document. In fact it could be these people are laboring to explain all the things we see in the photos - "yep, I saw that - had that - a guy died from that - "

As The Inquisitr noted, even the supposedly neutral United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry credits such claims:

"According to the United Nations Commission of Enquiry, since 2011 at least five branches of the Syrian security forces have operated wards inside Hospital 601. It was the commission’s opinion that many patients had been tortured to death within the facility." They heard the worst guard in accounts was nicknamed "Azrael, also known as the Angel of Death. He carried a stick laced with razor blades and used this on selected prisoners … took a lighter to a plastic bag and melted it, drop by drop, onto a prisoner’s face until he died." Mazen Hamada says he saw a boy burned in the neck with a blowtorch until he died, just because the boy was from Daraya.

The photos agree horrible abuses happened on a massive scale, and occasionally even things that look like those burning episodes. It would be somewhere in the Damascus-Ghouta, area or within body-driving distance of Military Hospital 601. The victims look more like they were held in a medieval dungeon, or a dungeon run by medieval-thinking people. Any of those known to be around?

Some fun things seen in the Al-Tawba prison run by the Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam ("Army of Islam") in nearby Douma (use and meaning not clear) …

Among untold thousands taken prisoner by Jaish al-Islam and held in such places, an SAA colonel among the few eventually released from their prisons in April, 2018.
"Abdul Rauf" told the VDC about his time in the regime's prisons, not Jaish al-Islam's. He describes starvation, swollen legs and chronic skin diseases, and this: "one of the detainees who had been tortured severely till his skin was disintegrated, then they put him in the garbage barrel for many hours, and then they throw in the bathrooms corridor "toilet" and his skin was so much rotten with a bad smell out of his wounds , and soon he was dead.  … the smell of rotten human flesh because of sores and prevalent diseases and the temperature was very high. ...  I think that the number of those who die as a result of the disease is equal to or slightly higher than the number of those who are dying under of torture ."

And here the memo says let's keep it clean, keep it healthy, and limit the deaths - the very nerve! Sick sarcasm all throughout … if we're reading it all right.

Side-Notes on Jailed SAA "Defectors"

A related thought: In all the prison stories, I still hear no word on the kind of uniforms used. Usually prisons have uniforms. I hear some wore shirts they could spare, torn into scraps to write 82 peoples' names and addresses on with blood and a chicken bone, and they were able to sew this pile of scraps into the collars and cuffs of one of their other shirts, and walk out in it. Uniforms usually get handed back in on release. So it's suggested the relevant prisons killing these thousands just didn't bother with uniforms.

I've looked at perhaps all the 6,700 photos, and catalogued about 95-97% of them. All the people I've seen are seen naked or in underwear, usually pulled down by Caesar and his crew, or left in street clothes. Or military uniforms, like these two prisoners of different branches both killed in or before March, 2013. Not appearing starved, these may be recent captures.
Is this FSA? Like, rival of no Islamists FSA? Or is this the regime jailing its own Syrian Arab Army fighters, like the Army of Islam does? In 3 years to do it, still no one has identified these two … defectors? Maybe attempted defectors of the kind FSA guys often found dead after they "refused to shoot protesters"?

Marwan Abu Anas (a claimed civilian) says he was jailed June 5, 2013 at branch 248 with "nine "soldiers" in their military uniforms and who had been charged with "attempting to defect", and who assured me that they had not had a shower for more than a month." He says he was then taken to another cell with "about 36 people; most of us were either defected soldiers, or those who had been trying to defect." That's from a hard-hitting VDC report that also cites "Abdul Rauf ...with reservation on the detention and release dates and full name for security reasons" This one says he was jammed into a huge cell that had "an area of about 15 x 4 meters and contained about one thousand detainees. Most of the detainees were soldiers and officers, who were charged with "defecting", and their number is more of the civilians, but civilians were mostly charged with demonstrating and vandalism, and possession of arms in fewer cases."

Those scare quotes suggest even these opposition guys know those soldiers never did succeed in defecting, probably didn't even try, and in fact may have loyally fought off the Islamists to their last bullet. And still, these soldiers wind up arrested, in some inhumane dungeon, as a large percentage of people held there... how can this happen, if not the way these Abu-Adbul guys describe?

Here's 215-3669, and 215-3670, killed side by side before July 7, 2013.The latter at least was also shot, at least twice in the arm, before he was detained at branch 215 and starved down, and finally killed. The tattoo between the bullet holes may be of a relevant man in a suit, but it's not clear who. Both men have tattoos suggesting they were Shia (Shi'ite). Did we have many Shi'ite or Alawite or Christian soldiers defecting to the Sunni-Islamist-dominated "FSA" in 2013, and putting up this fierce of a fight before the regime got their hands back on them? No, we didn't. But there are signs of several of them in the "Caesar photos," this one 3670 getting a bit scrambled somehow. There could be many more we don't see the signs of.

Even those possible loyal soldiers were not allowed to bathe or have clean clothes. These were washed at the end, but that probably has other reasons, related to their spitting blood despite a lack of fresh bodily injuries... Many will have been sent deeper into neglect and starvation that marks the vast majority of seen victims.

But Keep Me Updated...

A third new document shared in Channel 4's latest:
A December 2012 Circular to the Military Intelligence Department, signed by its Head, asks: “When any detainee dies in the prisons of the branches of the Department…. their status is then presented to the Head of the Department on the same day by telegram regarding the reasons for their arrest, the findings of their interrogation and the causes of death…”
Wiley enthused: “This is a fantastic piece of evidence because it shows that the Head of Military Intelligence was briefed on every single death of an individual in his custody. He was, at his own request, consistently put on notice of the deaths of detainees for which he in law was ultimately responsible.” Dated December 18. Here's the text as animated on the video:

But the killing was routine, systematic, and apparently total. Consider branch 227 and 215 - with over 80% of the dead between them - killed every prisoner, in roughly or exactly the same order they were arrested (going by what Caesar says). This is a representative stretch of processed images in my branch 227 folder. Alleged prisoner numbers from 2638 to 2713 are all but a few accounted for, nice and sequential (first in a July 7 folder, then a "000" one, then later in August 14, and it's chronological like this running back to late 2012.). The body discussed in part 1 is included here, highlighted in blue on the right side.

I'm still missing a couple of entries, and maybe a few prisoners were spared too? But nearly every number slot filled with a body. As noted in part 1, sources disagree - Caesar and his closest associates and some witnesses claim this is the prisoner number, assigned on arrest or transfer to the branch. This doesn't hold up on analysis, but it's the allegation. The SAFMCD "Caesar" entrusted the photos with, says all these consecutive and chronological detainee numbers appearing on the dead "confirms the systematic murder process of the detainees." Others, including Carter-Ruck and Human Rights Watch, decided on their own, or heard from some limited sources, that it's an order-of-death number, and improve on the allegations by deciding that.

And whatever to make of the numbering of bodies, the volumetric number of them was undeniably massive. That's the main point here, and it's more acute than you hear - 11,000 bodies from March 2011 to August, 2013 sounds terrible but plausible for a steady killing machine trying to nip a rebellion in the bud - but the first 18 months saw relatively few of these bodies, 2,000 or so total - taking off horribly, nine-fold, as that bud was not full nipped and started to blossom, in the last 1/3 of the span. From November 2012 to August 2013, a further 9,000 or so bodies passed through this system, or about 1,000 bodies a month. That's from mapping a couple hundred seen hospital numbers matched to victim folder dates - here's a rough graphic for that:
The intel chief's request of December 18, 2012 came just about as this surge of bodies was starting. And he might know of the plan to increase the killing further in the coming months - if it were a plan hatched by his side. Did he really want an average of 30+ updates a day, all marked urgent top secret, to explain the story of each detainee that was killed as planned? How many of these alerts did the commission find? In part one, we reviewed one, then another, and heard there are at least "several." There should be thousands of these alone. Finding one shouldn't be considered a "breakthrough," as that one was.

No, this order makes more sense with occasional deaths that weren't planned, and not even of prisoners, necessarily. I mean, IF ya dead or almost-dead bod were to appear, who would take "custody" of them? If there are many, and it has some military-security importance, and requires logging as a war crime, identification, investigation, bulk cases... Military intelligence.

But he refers only to the detainees here, not to any of these alarmingly numerous unidentified bodies. I propose he was referring to real prisons run by the Syrian government, not the terrorist dungeons the photo victims were held in. He expected to hear about maybe a few a month or less. An order to keep up on all deaths doesn't prove that option, But it sure as hell doesn't prove the less logical conclusion Wiley et al. have drawn.


These three new documents add to our picture of what the regime was saying to its own, in candid, top-secret memos never meant to be seen. In particular, these orders for evil are added:
  • don't arbitrarily arrest innocents
  • don't beat, torture, or otherwise abuse the detainees
  • implicitly, do not systematically exterminate them
  • keep up the cleanliness and medical care, prevent unnecessary illness and death
  • implicitly, do not toss them in pits to rot and die unseen
  • keep deaths low and alert the boss of every case where efforts failed,
  • implicitly, they did not want to hear about an average of 30+ killed each day.
With years of searching for the best available evidence of a systematic abuse, torture, starvation, neglect, and systematic extermination of mostly innocent people at a rate of 30+ a day, they have found those supports. This adds to what was publicized already, which was … a bit more of about the same thing. They have all these top secret papers, but they seem to be written in code that hides the stuff they really need. Because we can see the machinery of death, perhaps, being shut down here and there, pretending it's unapproved. But we still don't get to see any sign of it being started up or maintained. 

In fact, from everything we still don't see in these discussions, it's most reasonable to conclude that this long-claimed government extermination system is a fiction, perpetuated to demonize the Syrian state and obscure the true nature of this huge crime against that state and its people.


  1. I'd be interested to see the equivalent US Military Memos issued after the Abu-Ghraib torture images were released - or even before if some commander was on the ball.

    Then the essay question: "Compare and Contrast the two sets of memos"

    1. No doubt. Some countries/empires really can break any rule, deny and get away with it, while others who probably couldn't... it's alleged they keep on trying and failing. Here, literally, we see near proof that they did everything as fairly and legally as possible. It's amazing what color and spin can make out of nothing. Add some sugar too, and wow that's some big cotton candy, thanks Mr. Wiley.

  2. I found this, not quite the memos that I was after - which will probably never be released. But informative at least.


  3. Paragraph 1: I think should be 2668

    A few questions as I know you have studied all this:

    The memo shown is dated August 6 2013 (in Arabic and on the fax header) and the circular asking for thousands of memos is dated 2012 so the documents shown in HRW's If The Dead Could Speak report are between these dates.

    The memo is urgently sent by fax after a death.. and then they write to the Military Police requesting photography and burial (not by fax as different colours).. about a week later? The 'medical file' with many photos attached appears to be original too, what was the purpose of that in this system? They stapled (some of) the photos to an apparently pointless report not an intelligence file?

    If the head of department really wants all the information about a death, wouldn't they want the photo too- i.e. what state is the body in? But they don't take them until the decision has been made?

    1. 2668, right, thanks. I correct those 7s are SIXES, dummy, so the 8 becomes a 7, and 7 ate 9...

      The one report they showed with 3 or 4 starved guys' photos attached … need to study that more. Seems like a concocted "leaked example" to me, but that's first blush.

      The HRW cited case w/body# was dated June 2, so well into the keeping him informed phase. About 5 or 6 thousand bodies into it.

      I didn't fully follow your question, but it seems like a good one. The photos would just be to document prior to burial, in my scenario. If a body is refrigerated in between, a week won't make much difference for recognizability, so that's fine. But it probably doesn't make sense as a system to document exterminated detainees. A week in the fridge probably wouldn't be standard at the very least.

      I'm still not sure what to make of those 2 cases and the implication. Are those 227 tapes put there by them? And 215, etc.? And people wind up coughing blood across them half the time after placement? I have to keep doubting that those are the same numbered bodies referred to, or at least that the numbers are their own. Maybe they just use the terrorist number as a shorthand ID, hating it as they do so...

    2. Thanks - so in the system they present maybe:

      Death = urgent fax to dept. head
      Decision of dept. head = ?(urgent fax?)
      Photography and burial order = letter
      Decision other than burial = ?(urgent fax? - family known so return body?)

      As the original circular is not shown and edited here, the head of department may even get a memo with details of deaths in other circumstances. And whatever the (likely redacted) alternative decision is, it isn't choosing not to give bodies back because they look so badly tortured as it is pre-photo.

      I'm guessing you'd have mentioned if stealing the head of department's faxes was implausible. Certainly proof of.. something.. beneath CIJA's redactions.


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