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Monday, October 22, 2018

"Caesar Photos": Timeline of Terror

Fail Caesar, Part 12: Timeline of Terror
October 21, 2018
edits Oct. 23, 25, 29

Since the SAFMCD (Syrian Association for Missing and Conscience Detainees) released the "Caesar photos" face-shots in March, 2015 (database), I've been collecting the images and linked data (alleged prisoner ID# and folder date), first a solid sampling, and later trying for complete coverage. That was daunting; about 6,700 (IIRC) individuals are said to represented in a total pool of 6,796 photos.

The huge folder for alleged prisoners of Military Intelligence branch 215 contains over half the total, 3,556 photos, and I have - I think - 3,284 of them, so I'm missing 272. 92% collected. The other slightly smaller half of the photos, in the large 227 folder and several smaller folders, may be entirely covered - not just 100% rounded up, but none missing. Or, likely, I'm missing one, or a very few here and there. Averaging 92 and 100, I have it about 95% covered. After filling in the entire 227 folder, I decided the hassle isn't warranted to do the same for the much bigger 215 folder, and I'll proceed with new analysis with that majority of the data.

In review, the smuggled photos show bodies of men and older boys gathered partly, and probably entirely, at a garage area behind military hospital 601 in Damascus. They're allegedly political prisoners tortured to death in a systematic process by an insane Syrian government. The number is huge; allegedly 11,000 detainees, but that number has been argued two different ways.

Rather, I see about 10,000 unidentified bodies, perhaps 11,000, most of which were tortured detainees, but probably held by opposition groups, with the most likely being the local Saudi-backed militants of Liwa Al-Islam, later Jaish Al-Islam. Quite a few clues support their NOT being prisoners of the government, anyway. They would be exterminated, and the bodies dumped in batches somewhere the government could claim and process them as unknowns. They would have fake MI prisoner numbers arbitrarily assigned, written on the bodies. Officially, these would be ignored, but the insider "Caesar" would run fake photo shoots with his own cards "confirming" those numbers as part of a government system.

In some cases, a couple hundred total, we can see the "hospital number" - either on the SAFMCD face-shot, or in a body photo published somewhere else. This is the 4-digit number at the bottom of the cards used in morgue photos (the b is explained below - numerically, it says add 5,000, so this man is body #9,624). This "H#" may be the legitimate one for each body. "Caesar" and his promoters insist it attaches to a false death report at the hospital, blaming heart attack or breathing failure as a routine stand-in for the torture and whatever that killed them. But it should mean unidentified body in a sequence, and link to gravesite for possible recovery if the victim is ever identified from the photos taken.

Others that seemed worth mapping mainly in the early stretch, I call H# insertions - as explained here, the patterns involved are fairly clear that these are people with no prisoner ID#, that had one made up from re-branding their body number. So H#444, coming through at a time when the H# should be 444, might become branch 227 prisoner #444, even if there already is one at the right time months later, making for a confusing double-entry.

Early on, I set to organizing these hospital numbers - seen and suggested - according to the dates given for the victim's SAFMCD entry. I've been using this colorful timeline in different forms, from back in 2015-2016 - pretty well-filled-in and accurate, but not as useful as it could be.  (top: full span of coverage, but left vague - below, the main 9 months in more detail)

Now I've got a fuller data set, done more review on folder sizes and spread, and I was having more questions about the timeline, it seemed time for a new graphic. Obviously, this size is not readable here, even in a new window - see also 2,992 pixels wide version at ACLOS.

This is just adequate to cover such a span of 11,000 bodies in enough detail. It's still too small for individual entries to appear to scale: they're expanded a bit, and some stretches containing a few are compressed into wider bars. Here I left room for a new twist - 19 tags for specific points on the real timeline for comparison, where a date and a H# are both available.

Some notes here on the system: the timeline notes at least two entries in the 4-6-2013 range appear in the folder for February. But this looks like a simple error where a few files were dropped in the wrong folder - as this shows with 2 matches, the H# is just as out of sequence for February as their 213 numbers are. It's mainly sequential, with "prisoner" or "branch body" numbers and the linked H# ticking up steadily over time. There is some folder-mixing, (see June 24-July 26, 2013, other spots), and it's clear folders were largely compiled later.

24-6, 7-7, and 26-7 come out largely intermixed, suggesting a common batch collected from 3 times - a later division, rather than actual on-date collection. Some 215 entries are ordered so it's June 24, then July 26 (seeing it as June 26), then it's July 7. (see below, errors at the red lines). There are even more intermixed entries before and after this patch as correctly ordered as most other entries.)

Selective collection: some analysis on the last folders shows some months whole branches were skipped, or collected from exclusively, presumably drawing at different dates from the same (but growing) prior span of time. 

7-7 folder: 439 images, including:
215: 279
AF: 8
216: 22
other: 13

26-7 folder: 218 images. including:
215: 78
227 : 106
AF: 0
216: 21
other: 13

later 000 folder, 143 total includes:
215: 0
227: 117
AF: unclear
216: 14
other: 12

6(-8)-2013 folder: total 62. includes:
215: 62
everyone else: 0

14-8-2013 - final folder: total 126. includes:
215: 55
227: 45
AF: 0
216: 18
other: 8

But far more interesting is the Story behind those 19 tags marking the growth of a mysterious system that claimed several thousand lives around Damascus. All those angled connections show the basic degree to which we have a lot of bodies in the later half of this timeline after a long and slow start-up.  It's not the steady, systematic machine killing since the start, as presented. It took off a bit slower, more like how Islamist militants grew as a threat, and at about the same time. From there it went steadily like a serious killing machine.

Or as I had recently put it:
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.

As I discovered with more analysis, the numbers take off a bit earlier than I had thought. As the timeline notes along the bottom, it's a tale with phases, and can be summarized in 3 parts:

* 200 bodies/year for a year,
* then 200 per month for 8 months,
* then an average of about 1,000 bodies a month for 9 months.

Then the show might end. One hopes so, after that kind of carnage. The following breaks that down in a little more detail with the 17 dated cases added to the new timeline.

2011-2012: A Floundering Kill System
The first entries are too sporadic for a clear pattern to emerge, but a span around 170-200 appearing in a folder dated march, 2012, looks consistent. One of these, something (I think unidentified body) #191, is given a specific date of 6 March, 2012. Actual photo date could be the same or earlier (or possibly later?). So it's not the clearest point, but clearer numbers start not far off, not much higher, but climbing quickly from there.

This would start us with a picture of 190 bodies logged by then, just about one year into the uprising. That's roughly one body every other day. That's not good, but very mild compared to what followed.

Two entries from the 500-600 range offer dates. The SAA soldier Alaa Rabha - not defected that anyone mentions - would have unidentified body #563 when found, maybe after being abducted. Or so I surmise from his entry (even though it's one of the few that also gives a name: "sporadic views" 563 1-5-2012 Alaa Yahya Alddar Rabha) and how well that fits with others in that span (he's not the only one, just the one with a day date). But he was apparently identified soon; the opposition VDC lsts May 20 as his death date, citing a SANA report on a funeral for 18 slain soldiers, including him, on 22 May. (see here)

20 May from 6 March is 2.5 months, in which 372 bodies passed through hospital 601, if these are the H#s I think they are. It's risen from a body every two days in the first year to five per day, a ten-fold increase -185/month compared to 190 in a year.

Abdullah Arslan Hariri - who was allegedly no militant, but who appears shot in the head in a bloody manner - has a lower number over two listings: just 535 in "anonymous" (unknown) branch folder, and in "sporadic views" as 9th division's #535. But his reported date of arrest - or killing, and finding his body - is later, June 16 at the earliest (HRW 12-2015). He may not count, with that 535 appearing in some coincidence. He lived and died/was arrested near Nimr, Daraa, so he may not even wind up at Hospital 601 under their number system. He might instead show Daraa's local finds had reached about the same number. That seems plausible, up to then at least.

Mohamed Majid Abu Draa is an interesting case some 500 bodies later. #1075 is faint but readable on the card here. He's listed twice by the SAFMCD as 215-1075, 1-7-2012 (but there's another 1075 that fits in 2013), and as 227-251, but out of the usual sequence. That's twice inserted, once using the H#. I have a post just for him, and there were reports about him at the time, including a date with the most specific claims - someone said July 27 is when he was shot five times and run over by "Shabiha" in a security forces car, before they arrested him, took him to the hospital, or arrested him from the hospital. When they finally killed him is less clear.

But he's in the hospital probably right after that event. He has electrodes in place for heart monitoring (looking for a pulse - he seemed possibly dead), with multiple spots patched (shoulder, shoulder, side, at least 3 likely gunshots), and a hand injury treated with cream (run over?), all as if alive at one point. But then he's shown posed holding a card with a body number as if dead - and unidentified, like 1,074 before him.  July 1 and June 6 are given dates, but the 27th is a better fit with his appearing at the end of a folder starting July 1 - covering very many bodies with very low sampling (they don't show much - at least 58 photos for about 500 bodies). 

That fits great with an implied hospital number 1129 on teenager Ahmad Musalmani, early in the August folder - but given as his AF intel prisoner number. He was said to be killed on 2 August, yanked off a bus and shot for having an unpatriotic song on his mp3 player. Another guy on the bus, allegedly, told his family all about it. (HRW 12-2015) That's 6 days and 54 found, unidentified bodies after Mr. Abu Draa (9 bodies/day). Here's the sequence of H# insertions he's part of, 1121-1144, all logged in the 1-8 folder, but given as prisoner numbers divided up - here, over three branches, with some entries left out.
235-1232 just gives a date - Aug. 17. Taken as photo date (not a certainty), that's 103 bodies after Ahmad in 15 days. That would be consistent. Again, too few bodies in those days were getting labeled as specific regime prisoners, and had their unidentified body # used to create fake prisoner IDs later.

The August folder is rather small, seems incomplete, and is followed by a big gap, with September and October, 2012 left off. It could be "Caesar" had lost access or an inside connection for a time. It seems the killing continued, with about 700 bodies missed in the interim. That would be 350/month, if that's the actual span of their cataloguing, and it was just starting to expand. Whoever was behind it, it's alarming how steady this huge output remains, month after month, as numerous people keep cooperating is this mass murder and expanding it, eventually, to 3-5 times this rate. 

November Uptick: 500/Month
If "Caesar" was locked out for a time in September and October, he got back in. A November folder renews coverage of an expanded kill system, once he was back to "document the regime crimes." Here solid streams of 215, 227, and other MI branch's alleged detainees appear with virtually every number seen. With less need to invent prisoner numbers, we see less of those H# insertions from here on.

We can also see the solidification of an issue seen sporadically from the start; some people appear killed by caustic gasses. By November and from then on, a solid majority do. They come out purple-colored, with red, irritated eyes, and blood and mucous coughed up their faces from damaged lungs, as it seems, while they were suspended upside-down. At right is one of the less obvious examples. He's been washed up well, but had the same thing happen. No one has mentioned the gas chamber killing of these supposed "Assad regime" prisoners, but the signs are right there.

The 1-11-2012 folder has solid sampling, with at least 419 photos out of a spread probably not much over 500 bodies wide. I wondered if this covered the prior months, but I don't think so. It seems those were just missed, and this is about 500 bodies, just in November

Two dated entries early in the month anchor this important folder consistently as starting around 1-11.

The peaceful activist Ayham Ghazoul, one of the most well-known "Caesar photo" victims, is said to die on 9 or 11 November (sources differ), a few days after a murky second arrest. A guy who held Ayham in his arms as he died - allegedly - told his family all about it. (HRW 12-2015, others) He blames a simple beating, which wouldn't explain the bloodshot eyes with yellow crust, the skin irritation and faintly purple color, yellow mucous staining of his face... like the one example above, he's a less obvious case than some.

Ayham's photos show the hospital number 2129. About a week earlier, a dated insertion #2049, branded as an AF intel "j" prisoner of that number, was gathered on 3 November. 2049 to 2129 would mark 80 bodies intervening in those 6-8 days.

December entries seem to be gathered later in sporadic folders on at least Dec. 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 17, and then a seemingly later and larger folder "12-2012." A dateless 000 folder gathers some in the span as well. The total span covered in a bit unclear - at least 300 bodies, perhaps over 500. Three of these also have hospital number visible, 2 of them date-matched to Dec. 9 and 10, starting 525 bodies after Ayham Ghazoul, one month earlier. 

2013 Uptick: 1,000-1,500/Month and /b Switch
The next datable cases are way out 1,800 bodies later - but it's only 80 days since the December entries, at the end of February. their numbers suggest 23 bodies/day since 10 December. But here 2  SAFMCD entries (27 and 28 Feb.) number 4521 and 4571, suggesting 50 bodies passed through in a day (or in the two days combined?). The overall rate is increasing: about 300/month, then 500, and now close to the 2013 average of 1,000/month.

The folders between show this continued increase.January, 2013 has the biggest collection yet - 448 photos covering an somewhere between 400 and 700 logged bodies. February is larger yet, 569 photos covering a span of at least 900, maybe over 1,000 bodies

Here at the end of February, we're nearing the 5,000 mark. Whoever is running the numbers here stop there or just shy (4,999, presumably) and start numbering again at 1, but with a letter suffix that translates /b. Why? Any 4-digit number system will run out at 9999, and have to go to 5 digits, or re-start at 0. But there's no clear reason at 5,000.

Maybe some plotters wanted to show the system maxing out its number system and just "re-setting the odometer" so they could keep on killing. But around the middle, they feared they wouldn't be able to keep it running all the way to 9999, so they went for a switch halfway. I've taken the H# as likely legitimate, and maybe it was to this point or past. But that switch has me wondering if someone more theatrical took over the numbering at some point, and possibly from the start.

Anyway, 4999 and then 0/b come somewhere in the middle of this March folder. 68/b (or body 5,068) is the first seen hospital number with a date, on "235-55." At right, a photo with his hospital number (center, it's 68/b). (next to him, a Palestinian tattoo (of Gaza, I think) is highlighted on another guy by Zaman al-Wasl). The SAFMCD entry for 235-55 makes total sense if 3-6 (usually meaning June 3rd) actually means March 6. This does seem to happen sometimes. That would be about 500 bodies (collected) in 6 days, when it was just taking a month to do that. Maybe that doesn't fit. June 3 is too late though; that would be a later collection of an old March photo just before the 4-6 folder.

Hospital number 330/b was used for Mohamed Tariq Majid who, per the 2015 HRW report, died "about a month" after or "within a month" of a February 16 detention. That's according to alleged former prisoners, but good enough to map March 10-15 in a span with fewer IDs and stories or dated entries. It lines up well enough, not that there's as much to compare it to. At body #5,330, that's about 760 in the roughly 2 weeks since the late-February ones. That's a lot of bodies. Maybe the above entry is correct after all, and the average here comes out like 1,500-2,000 bodies/month? Maybe. But neither of these points is really solid.

Just by size the March folder is huge - 1,016 photos covering a span not much wider - perhaps 1,100-1,200 bodies. And it seem incomplete, with Mr. Majid dying in the middle of the month, but near the end of its coverage. And then there's no April or May folder. That's similar to August-October period in 2012, where an incomplete folder is followed by 2 missing ones. But this time it seems the photos in this span were gathered eventually, with an enormous June 4 folder collecting photos spanning back right to where 3-2013 left off, so covering May, April, and probably some part of March.

After Mr. Majid at 330/b, there's a span of about 2,300 bodies that passes before another H# is visible, and it's several in a row. The numbers 2614/b - 2624/b are used for a batch of 11 "branch 215 detainees" 3003, 4, 5, 6, and so on - only the first 4 seen in a document shown in HRW's 2015 report. The memo is dubious, to be examined, but the photos are clearly real and match with SAFMCD photos for those guys, all appearing in the later 4-6 folder. The memo date seems logical, probably the real day or close.

24 May would be a lone but firm anchor point way out - nearly 2300 bodies after Mr. Majid, in a suggested 70 days. That's 33 a day or 1,000/month, which the timeline suggests is about the overall average through 2013, if possibly a downturn from early March. 

After that, I only have two estimates I happened to make. These are based on 24 May and that daily average of 33, and on correlating placement within folder spans, to estimate a best-guess day (4 June for the purple 227-2040, and 29 July for the healthy-color but eye-gouged 227-2668). That would be too early to match with the deceased detainees of branch 227, as alleged by HRW and CIJA. That's not certain, but I make a good case that the hospital's numbering of death cases happened to nearly line up with the 227 subtotal during this span. it could be that plausible coincidence creating these 2 illusions, and maybe even more - among 227-credited bodies in this span, and nowhere else.

2,000-2200 bodies are covered in 4-6. The time span is unclear, but possibly back to about March 20, or the start of April at the latest. 2-2.5 months might make this a bit below average, but it seems incomplete. A smaller 7-6 folder was compiled 3 days later, and may complete the catch-up and bring the collection current; the mentioned 227-2040 is in the middle of this folder, but by daily averages from May 24, his photo should be about 4 June.

256 photos in 7-6 cover a span between 200 and 450 bodies wide (unclear). So these two June folders combined cover 2,200-2,650 bodies, in the span of about 2-2.5 months: about 1,000 to 1,325 per month. All considered, it seems about average.

The Summer Spike's Suspect Scheduling
Starting after the huge 4-6 folder comes the intermixed 24-6, 7-7, and 26-7 folders. Considering the scrambled timeline mentioned at the start, the new graphic just gives a collective total for 24 June to 26 July = 1,201 saved photos, over a span of app. 1,500-1,600 numbered bodies, collected in just over one month. This may reach back before 24 June, or reflect just one month of mayhem, some 50% higher than usual. That would be heavy: 50 bodies in an average day, and more on a bad one

Note 10-23: yes it reaches before 24 June. I know this but forgot it all though writing. It should cover from 7 June, IF things were brought current then, and further back otherwise. So this is a longer span of about 50 days. 1,500 would be 30 a day, a bit under average. 1600 a bit over. So about the spike I wrote about below … replace with continued steady stream, and the other points remain interesting... 

Now think about how this spike happens to come as "Caesar's" documentation project drew to a close. Is that a coincidence? It's worth wondering who might know that the insider was planning to feel unsafe and close up shop pretty soon. If they were the same people sending him all these bodies, they might use the knowledge to provide a grand finale. In fact, "Caesar's" timing might be based on plans of theirs he became aware of. 

This is also when less signs of chemical extermination appear. Instead, most men have their eyes gouged out, no matter what alleged branch of military intelligence was holding him (see 227-2668 above, and the 8 samples below, and note they run further back, into the June folders, but no earlier). 

Was someone in the Damascus area saving up toxic gas here in the late summer of 2013? When Caesar would flee on 20 August, and hundreds would die that night in the Ghouta chemical massacre? We think terrorists gassed hostages for that even, this time including women and children, but ones treated better than the thousands of men starved, gassed, and dumped up until then. This threatened regime change, crossing "Obama's red line." But in case that didn't work, as it so happens, "Caesar" was safely out with a sort of plan B for regime-change justifying allegations of mass atrocities. Does it also show practice and planning for the Ghouta event?

After the scrambled folders, there are three final ones closing the show before "Caesar" fled. First is an undated 000 folder. I estimate that at about august 1 - a date going blank makes sense here, and the numbers make sense. No span clear with just one H# found, only via Channel 4 recently, but with 143 photos included, it must cover at least 143 bodies.

Then a folder called 6-2013 contains entries picking up where 000 leaves, off and running to the final folder on 14 August. A small folder, I think this means 6 August, likely five days after last collection, 8 days before the next one. 6(-8)-2013 folder: total 62 photos, and all from branch 215 - it's a selective catch-up folder. 2 seen H#s show this folder covers a span of about 100 bodies at least, but not much wider than that.

14-8-2013 - final folder: total 126 photos, with a pretty normal division. Four seen H#s cluster around the 5,000/0 switch, illustrating a span maybe 50 bodies wide, with an unclear spread before or after. I suspect this final stretch is not much bigger than the number shared: probably 150 to maybe 200 bodies passing since last collection on the 6th. In 8 days, that's just 19-23 bodies per day.

solid sampling, unclear placement on timeline due to lack of seen H#s. Between them, at least 350 bodies, maybe 400 or more, represented by 330 photos. That would be 2 weeks to the 14th. That would only be 700/month, less than half the rate in March or July. Were the people providing that finale already winding the show back down? In the last 2 weeks before "Caesar" suddenly had to flee, just hours before the Ghouta massacre?
The Second Letter Switch and Last Bodies
There's the switch to /b after 4999 in March, perhaps fearing 9999 would never be reached. But it was, causing another switch at the end, in the 14 August folder. The final letter(s) remain unclear - said to be the Arabic letter tha ( ث ), it looks more like nothing - maybe a lazy s (sin - س ) slurred a couple different ways, or two different letters. Here as seen with 3/? (on 215-4059) and 24/? (on 215-4071). The latter could b 124, but their 215 numbers seem too close for that - just 12 apart.

There's long been an alleged 1,000-plus bodies after this switch, for about 11,000 total. I had accepted this, but in the end, it's not clear where they're at if so. That last folder is only about 126 photos (and for the 215 part, I took extra care to dig around the end and find all the last entries, so that may be its true size). Solid sampling prevails in the folder before it, so it seems unlikely this one has some 10% coverage, wide enough to show numbers running past 1,000, while just those 2 early H numbers appear. If so, some last-minute padding is more likely than usual. "Caesar" may just make up some "add 220" entries. But usually, it doesn't seem that way, and here I still kind of doubt that. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Assad Files-Caesar Photo Line-Ups: Genuine or Phony?

Assad Files 2018, part 4
Caesar Photo Line-Ups: Genuine or Phony?
October 14, 2018
(slightly rough)

In general, I've found these damning documents the "Assad Files" to be innocuous records of a government's response to the terrorist proxy war called the Syrian uprising. And that's upon careful review of the best examples provided by those trying to convince us of their value in proving regime atrocities. But in part 1 of this 2018 series, I was thrown for a bit of a loop by a relatively strong-seeming 2-point pattern. Two apparent line-up between detainees who died and bodies photographed at the right time among the Caesar photos - both detainees of MI (military intelligence) branch 227, both matching roughly for date with photo of alleged 227 detainees sporting the same 4-digit numbers.

It might seem impressive, but that's two cases of apparent line-up, in a narrow class (just one branch of military intelligence, in a certain 2-month span), between an enormous set of photos with sub-numbers, and a pool of dead prisoners of a less certain size (allegedly the same thousands in the photos, but maybe just a relative handful of different people). Far below is a section to explain the scale of numbers of likelihood of random line-ups.

It's presumed these two cases are just examples out of thousands of the same kind of paperwork-to-photo matches we'd expect if the stories of mass prisoner extermination were true. But it might be there are just these 2, or just a few more than that, which would mean almost nothing but chance can be at work.

For now and maybe forever, we cannot settle that with certainty. But with a little more analysis requiring this new post, I'm less impressed than I was at first. I still can't be certain what the truth here is, or prove anything, but I'll make the case that this might have been another carefully-framed illusion.

First, a visual summary of my timeline analysis suggesting a mismatch. In the graphic below are the alleged 2 matches (each with photo and linked memo, all in more detail below).

The green boxes here are what should line up, if these are the same men, and my photo date estimate, and understanding of collection dates are right. None of that is certain. I think this all refers to 4 men, not 2. But I can only offer a suggestion of mismatch, far from definitive. The rest of this post mainly explains how I decided this, and raises some notes on the way, adding up to some decent basis to doubt the matches.

Below is long, will take a while to clean-up fully. No one probably should read this end-to-end. But it can be skimmed, and should be by some people. It's organized so:

- first each detainee / pair / alleged match is explained with a section: basics and some case details considered, emphasis on timeline match (many numbers, averages, estimations involved)
- then my theory about how there may be 2 different number systems that happened to almost line-up and match pace for this 2 month span to explain both cases.
- then some related concluding thoughts, especially on how these alleged line-ups clash with an earlier explanation offered by "Caesar" himself.

Deceased Detainee 2040/0
We'll start with the earlier of the two apparent matches, not explained much previously. He enters the record via a document shown by Human Rights Watch in their December, 2015 report If the Dead Could Speak. There it's shared in photographed form (atop a portrait of Bashar al-Assad) and marked © 2013 “Caesar” collection. The summary of its content, as given there:

A note from the head of the 227 Branch noting: “During the investigation with [DETAINEE], his health conditions declined and he was given emergency treatment in the 601 Military Hospital. On June 2, 2013, the [DETAINEE] died after his heart and breathing stopped. He was placed in the morgue refrigerator, with the number ‘2040.’ Please bury his corpse…in coordination with the Burial Office in accordance with the written [DECISION] of the National Security Office.” With copies to three security branches. 

In the report, they cite a total of three such documents they were shown, all three claiming heart or breathing failure as cause of death. Of course, three isn't very many to support the claim this is used to explain thousands of deliberate murders. But it is consistent with such a system, and might just be a tiny sampling. Of those three reports, only this one is shown to be verified.

Here's the full letter, cropped from the photo, enhanced and sharpened, with minor redactions added (black boxes). In the spirit of hiding the victim's name (the only thing blurred out in the original), I blacked out also his mother's name, and possible identification numbers, all in the first paragraph. We couldn't do much with this information right now anyway. Translation etc. in more detail at ACLOS posting.

In short, HRW's translation was accurate enough, and didn't seem to skip anything relevant, except that he was stored "under the number 2040/0." They missed the zero, which is easy to do.

It's dated 9 June. It requests photography and then burial of the body "in a known place," in accordance with cited codes. "Attachment: A ‎Sealed envelope with the ID of the Mentioned person" Official-seeming stamp, and Amin 2511 notes "signed by the head of section/branch 227 also Head of the Intelligence Division "per procuration""

This document doesn't offer an obvious problem. It sounds like that is a detainee of theirs, and with all text present it's clearly the same man who dies after problems during an "investigation with him." But there's no mention of torture as the cause. If it did happen they took care not to mention it, even in this top-secret internal memo.

So for whatever reason, they say he died on the 2nd, and exactly a week later, on the 9th, the order is put out to photograph and bury him. There's one other to compare it to (see below), and he's held 6 days. Why wait a week to bury your secret detainees? Maybe they have a policy of waiting a week to try and contact family and get the body back to them. Maybe if there's no luck after that, they document and bury the guy. If so, all such cases should be 7 days later. So far it's just two for two.

Assessing HRW's Match With (Terrorist Hostage?) "227-2040" In their report, Human Rights Watch matches the deceased detainee with a "Caesar photo" victim labeled 227-2040. That's reasonable, in that the he's the only option if one were to find an exact match in the photos, for the 227 part and/or for the basic date. But the match is not certain, maybe because the photos simply don't show detainees in actual Syrian security centers, but someone else's prisoners.

Here is the person they refer to as the same one in that memo. SAFMCD cropped face-shot (a bit blurry) - 227-2040 (3) 7-6-2013. This is just one of the several better photos HRW will have seen (cropped from #3 in a sequence of however many).

Age: born 1976 as the memo says, so the detainee 2040/0 would be 36 or 37 in mid-2013. That could be the age of this man who - as usual - is in bad shape and hard to read. Many will look older than they really are, and some people started out looking young for their age. Totally inconclusive.

I notice his eyes are sunken, and teeth are in bad shape, maybe missing some. These are consistent with malnutrition seen in most photo victims. His face and shoulders don't evidence much wasting, but we don't see his ribs or hips, and he still may have been poorly fed, just for a shorter time than some, or with peculiar effects. It's alleged branch 227 and the rest starve most detainees...

HRW: "His body shows purple bruising in the throat, abdomen and lower legs, cuts on his lower legs, and a cut on his forehead."

I can't see a cut on the forehead, but maybe it's too high up. Lower body details unknown. As for the purple neck bruising, he may show a different and milder form of some common neck injury - bruising/burning/unclear, worth more study. But mostly rather, his body shows a purple tint all over in the parts we see, and likely the rest. The lips especially are deep purple. That means cyanosis, from prolonged lack of oxygen in the blood. Most of the victims in the "Caesar photos" display this to some degree, and often to the extreme. It's not something "torture" usually causes.

Anyway, we refer to the same person here, but we don't agree that he's the same man described in the memo. I don't suppose I can prove this, but …

Date Mismatch?
HRW's report stated "Photographs of Detainee 2040 reveal that his body was photographed on June 7, 2013." If so, then why is an order to take the photo only issued on June 9?

Rather, the photos they identified as relevant were put in a folder dated June 7 (7-6). This will usually be the date of photo collection, of photos taken earlier, since last collection. This would mean a photo taken June 9 or 10 is simply too late to be included.

But the basic logic of the system isn't totally clear yet, it seems to change at points, and might have exceptions. Here's my big timeline of seen "hospital numbers" compared to photo folder dates, for the final and heaviest 9 months (not the whole span back to 2011). (hospital number explained here - it means  either false heart-attack-death-report # or, I think, unidentified found body #). This case and some others with dates are pinned on at the bottom (new window for readable-size view). I'm looking for any more dated entries I can place to help fill this in, but they're pretty rare.

See below, on the left in the span under 1-11-2012 (purple) that includes entries (allegedly) from days later than that, and many others after it. There, 1 Nov. seems like a start date for collection, in a folder named first and added to on later dates. The same seems to apply to 1-8-2012, off-frame here. But that's not well-illustrated yet, and both dates are far from gospel.

Patterns in mid-2013 will be more relevant, and it seems like the MO changed somewhere before that. The same Dec. HRW report shows a May 24 order to photograph 11 bodies that came out as numbered 2614/b-2624/b on this timeline. As we can see here, a whole lot of bodies dated June 4 (about 1,800-1,900) were photographed before that, running back - it seems - to March, when the last folder was compiled. It should probably run up to the collection date, including photo taken on or just before 4 June - unless perhaps the gathering session was cut short, with the last few days still to grab, for example.

So the photos put in a 7-6 folder should be gathered three days later, and cover just those three days, plus any missed before. How it seems to cover app. 250-300+ bodies suggests it might cover more than 3 days, likely including quite a few entries from June 4 and earlier, because the last session was not completely current.

But more than likely, 7-6 brought things current, and none of the photos in it was taken after the 7th. Anyone snapped on the 9th or 10th would then have to wait for the sizeable 24-6 folder, the next one compiled. So, just by the apparent logic of folder dates, the provided "Caesar" photo was taken some days too early to match with that memo.

There's another even less certain way to check for a likely date. I estimate 227-2040's hospital number at around 3000/b (proportionally between the two closest 227 bodies with seen H#s, and presuming an even distribution of 227-stamped bodies). That would be in the middle of the smaller 7-6 folder's span (whatever days that actually ran).

With an overall average of 33 bodies a day, some 350-400 bodies before 3,000/b = 10-12 days after the May 24 memo, or June 4-6 is the most likely span for the 227 photo - 3-5 days too early to match with the June 9 memo. But this remains uncertain, not a very reliable estimate (but better than nothing, at least). Maybe the rate here was slower, or this folder was added to after its start date so it's a match. But suggested line-up and the apparent logic of folder dates agree in their uncertain indication that the memo comes a bit too late to match the photo.

That would present this coincidence: 2 different dead men wound up stamped 2040, at Hospital 601, within a few days of each other. That might sound unlikely on first blush, but see below for the scale of things to realize it's not so unlikely at all.

The Other Case: Detainee(s) 2668

2668/0 = (Terrorist Hostage?) "227-2668'?
Another case from two months later was covered in more detail in part 1. It was published by the CIJA (Committee for International Justice and Accountability) via an August, 2018 Channel 4 program. The relevant document they shared has very similar content. In this case, a "terrorist" detainee (different wording) of branch 227, is most likely the "he" who died of heart and breathing failure at hospital 601, after questioning. There's some ambiguity from 95% of the text preceding "he" being redacted (whoever was referred to last in that black box). But comparing to this earlier case, it's likely the same story, maybe with some extra details not worth seeing on just how this bad state finally came about.

It says he died on July 31,and was ordered photographed and buried in an August 6 report. In between, he was put in the cooler with a number 2668/0. That (minus the zero) was matched by Channel 4 investigators with a starved guy with eyes gouged out, 227-2668, date not clear but (as I found) pretty current with the memo. That's two cases where 227's numbers ate least are current with two dead detainees - are they just the same thing then?

To me it seemed likely the dead man was another character introduced, one of the mostly-dead people dumped by the terrorist, one of whom was caught in the act and became the "terrorist" under questioning. Maybe one dumped body still had a pulse, but then died in this hospital, and was documented as unidentified. But the 2040 case weakens that option - a dead 227 detainee with the same kind of number has details, an ID card, he clearly dies, still gets held a week, and processed the same way. Most logical; the same story happened twice.

This memo is clearly a different format, some kind of fax, not the stamped official form seen for 2040. The requested forwarding is similar for both, but not exact: 2040's form in June is forward to: division/branch 291 (in "reference to your letter No. 56122 dated 7/6/2013, for view"), 248, 294. This one has: something 248, 294, 217, and a shorter entry blacked out. (291?)

As with the first case, there's a delay here - not 7 days, but 6. So maybe the rule is try to contact his family for about a week, then document and bury the body, or to get the whole thing done within a week.

So if this all refers to one man - there he was under questioning, already weak from starvation, and they gouged his eyes out … and if the blacked out parts explained any of this, it would be odd to black it out. In this case, there's no purple, coughing blood and mucous, or any other chemical signs. That all remains super-common from Nov. 2012 on, but becomes less common in the final stretch. Instead, eye-gouging appears suddenly with most victims, closer to the end in mid-August 2013.

But anyway, they then rush his to the ER as if to keep him alive? And he wound up displaying no signs of medical intervention, like washing the wounded eyes, etc.?

There are hundreds in this span with eyes gouged out. It looks extermination-oriented, but maybe it was a whole lot of interrogations gone overboard, like with this guy? No, I doubt that - for the rest and for him.

Time Mismatch?

Aug. 6 order, photo presumably that day or the next, compared to folder 000. That's not obvious. But I can say 000 is somewhere between July 27 and what seems to be a folder dated August 6 (just called 6, but containing body numbers running up to those in a final 14-8-2013 folder, so I take it as meaning 6-8, or Aug. 6). The folder sizes here (from my hard-to-assemble and 99% complete database):
- 000 = 143 photos
- 6(-8) = 62 photos
- 14-8 = 126 photos. 
He comes just another entry that's in Aug. 6, so late in his span of 143.

When was 000? Considering just 62 photo gathered on 6-8, that's like 2 days worth of bodies in the usual flow. So the last collection (000) might be about August 4. Otherwise, right between the dated folders makes most sense. That would be August 1 or so. 000 by usual rates = 4-5 days' worth of bodies. From July 27/28, that should be Aug. 1. Some implied entries missing photos are mixed in somewhere... So we could say best estimate for 000 is Aug. 2-3, give or take a day or so.

Best single-day guess: photo on July 31. As usual, he appears dead perhaps 1-2 days at most, or longer if under refrigeration. Now, to be the body in that memo, he has to die on the 31st and only pass under the lens 6-7 days later, august 6 or 7. He would have his photo collected later yet - too late for the 000 folder, and maybe even for the Aug. 6 one. He would likely end up in the final August 14 folder instead.

The date of 000 remains unclear, and if that's the date of last collection... the numbers might also line up better, or even be the same number and same man entirely, as alleged. But again, his body/ hospital number and the folder date both suggest the photo is too early to match the memo, and here by a bit longer, more like 5-6 days. 

And both clues agreed in the same direction in the other case above. Hm.

Two Number Systems?
A Hypothesized /0 System
Both documents add an unmentioned /0 to the body number. It looks like a /. and coming at the end of sentence, it looks like the end of the sentence. This is a traditional "Eastern Arabic" number system commonly used in the region, with its easily-missed zero. 

There's also a slash before the number, but I'm inclined to ignore that as marking a number here: it's worthwhile, as the order of reading changes at each slash. The usual right-to-left order is maintained, but within the slashes, number blocks are read left-to-right. So "number / 2040 / 0" and "number / 2668 / 0" is how it's given in both cases. 

Those numbers seem to be issued in the same system, but does it really link to those men in the Caesar photos? If so, it seems 0 is the hospital's code for 227's share of the body flow, and they just use the branch's own ID number. Maybe 215 gets their dead prisoners stored with their current detainee/body number with the suffix /1, and so on. That's the implication of the CIJA case 

One other option I held out from the start was two different number systems happening to line up, at least roughly. Seeing that happen twice about 2 months apart did seem a challenge, but not a great one. I've come back around to this theory as my best explanation, for now at least.

A number system that could explain the pattern under study is one for all deaths IN military hospital 601, as opposed to those special cases logged out back. It would include the occasional prisoner who dies after a struggle in the ER (not ones found dead, or meant to die), delayed combat deaths from both sides (but mainly the government side), civilians mortally killed in shelling, etc. Maybe a few are "Caesar photo" victims who were found dumped among the dead but with a faint pulse, but then died in the ER. 

In all but the latter case, the number wouldn't usually replace a name, as the victims are identified or likely to be, only stored short term with bodies claimed by family, ideally. The number might just be for reference, a running death toll. It would probably refer to crisis-related and not natural deaths, starting at 1 around March 2011. (this is how the unidentified body numbers work; they start low at the conflict's start) 

Why 0? Could mean detainee deaths, with others given numbers like /1 for killed civilians, /2 for killed security forces, and /3 for killed militants. /4 would probably be better for prisoners than the non-number 0.  Maybe it just means hospital 601, the one that did all the counting at first (hence 0, the original0? The zero would be redundant in-house, but useful when combining the tolls at each hospital (others using the same numbers but getting suffixes /1, /2, etc.)  

In such a system, body #2039 might have been a girl who died at hospital 601 after her school was hit by a terrorist mortar shell, for example. She might be 2039/1 for example, or /0, depending - but there would be just one number per body, with the right suffix (so if 2039/1, there would be no 2039/0, etc.).  

I'm just hypothesizing here, but as far as I see, the speculation has to be about correct. Otherwise, it would seem the CIJA matches are genuine, despite the doubts and counter-clues and their shady track record. Everything else to me says these things do not connect, but if not, then something else would have to explain those 2 numbers emerging then, and I don't see much alternative to something like this.

How It Would Kind-Of Line Up With "Caesar's" System
So let's say this system - that really might and probably should exist - would happen to reach death number 2040, with a detainee of branch 227, at about the same time the "Caesar photos" unidentified bodies credited to branch 227 also reached 2040.

So we'd have 2040 deaths logged at hospital 601 by June 2 of 2013. The rate of deaths in that time would start slow and then accelerate as the militancy expanded. Quite likely a smaller half of these deaths were in the first half of 2013, while the slight majority took the first 22 months to accumulate. That's just a guess, but would yield a 2013 average of around 160-170 a month. It might be low in the winter, like 90/month, and extra-heavy in June and July, like 250/month, amid escalated fighting, especially over Jobar and east Ghouta.

The second coincidence about two months later (span June 9 to August 6) just means the two systems didn't happen to pass briefly, but stayed roughly synchronized for several weeks - the same basic pace was kept between the 227 bodies and everyone who died at the hospital. Their system would log 628 fatalities of all classes combined in app. 2 months (2040 - 2668), an unusually high rate of about 300-320 a month at this time. Considering the above, the uptick in deaths could be even sharper than that rough guess.

as for the "Casear photos," likely unidentified found bodies of immense number, which seem to directed totally to the garage behind  Hospital 601 - In this same span, my H# timeline suggests that system documents more like (est. 3000/b - 4738/b) 1,750 unidentified bodies As it happens, the minority stamped 227 also rose by about 600 in the same 2 months (comparing 2040's estimated H# and 2668's seen H#). At close to 1/3, that's a pretty normal ratio for 227. In total, the photos at the SAFMCD site break down so by (alleged) MI branch:

* 215 = 3,556
* 227 = 2,047
* next 3:
** Air Force Intel - 350
** 216 - 297
** 235 - 128
* the other folders/branches hardly count or don't (misplaced 215s, unknown branch, etc.)

So 215 = 56% - 227 = 32% - next 3 combined = 12%

Now this, used to project the expected number and proportions of dead in the span between our two deceased detainees in the hypothesized Hospital 601 /0 number system. Nothing exact, but useful in showing the rough correlation of the red bars (est. 560 vs. 628), and likelihood of many matches here - if very many of those who died inside the hospital were 227 detainees. And it might be just the two.

Both photos seeming to come too early to match suggests the hospital's system of total deaths passed the current 227 number just a few days behind it, and kept approximate pace for about two months, staying about as far behind then. Therefore, it would keep pace for a bit before and after this span as well, but would get increasingly out of sync further from this zone..

Here it seems the hospital's number grew faster (628 to 560), so the second entry should line up better, but things just aren't precise enough yet on any end to settle points like that. Likely there are more 227s than average in this span. In fact:

The 7-6 folder includes 160 from 227, and only 73 from branch 215, of 256 total. The other folders are less 227 heavy or have none, but tend higher than average.

24-6 folder, total: 544, includes: 215: 267 - 227: 213

7-7 folder, total 439, includes: 215: 279 - 227: 117

26-7 , total 218, includes: 215: 78 - 227 = 106

later 000 (Aug. 1?) folder, total 143, includes: 215: 0 - 227: 117

6(-8)-2013, total 62, includes: 215: 62 - 227: 0?

14-8-2013, total 126, includes: 215: 55 - 227: 45

The two prisoners who die happen to be 227 - in two cases, maybe more. Is that a lucky break? (and how lucky?) Or, perhaps, 215 and someone else had a couple detainees die in this span as well, but they were put in the hospital's cooler under numbers in the same sequence with these 227 guys and whoever else, and NOT based on their branch 215 etc. ID. That is, maybe others were found but didn't line up, so the CIJA et al. didn't mention it... this would be par for the course if those investicutors (prosecution-minded fake investigators) did find such a thing.

If this scenario were true, it means compared to the large number of people dying in hospital 601 in this span - a bit over 300 a month on average, from all causes combined as I propose - three times as many starved and purple found bodies were photographed in the garage area during the same span. And it did this constantly through late 2012 and 2013, to the tune of about 1,000/month on average. Whatever crime system is behind that stream of death, this gives an idea of the scale of it.

The sheer number of bodies with their attached numbers makes it likely enough that  two men stamped 2040 and two stamped 2667 passed through the same hospital within a few days of each other. Virtually every number prior to that had already been used in the hospital's inner system, and several times among the victims out back. The hospital number there is debatably relevant, but it too gets linked to false detainee death reports, and might be used in the same way - see below. Every number up to 5,000 gets used twice here, and a few lower numbers get used a third time (it runs 1-4,999 first plain, then again with /b, then with /another letter(unclear - s?), allegedly running up past 1,000). And then each alleged MI branch responsible for killing their prisoners on such a scale issues virtually every number up to whatever. And there are nine branches to issue numbers. 

For example, over the whole span, the number 458 would be passed seven times between all sources in that graphic above. Once in the "/0 system" and six times in the "Caesar photos" system:
as unidentified body number three times, and also with photo victims 215-458, 216-458, 227-458. So there are 6 chances for the /0 system's body #458 to line up with one of those.

Lower number should be repeated more time with the lower-killing branches included, but 215 and 227 are missing a lot of lower / early entries, so the most common numbers come out at best like 59:
Branches 227, 216, 251, 220, 235, and 248 each have a "detainee" #59. 215 does not (that's included as such). These six plus 59 used 3x as body number in this system, and once in the hospital's inner system = ten bodies logged as #59, one way or another, at one point or another, just at this one place.

Other numbers like 1441 just get repeated five times total (just twice as hospital number, once each for 227 and 215, the only two huge-yield branches, and once in the /0 system). The numbers in question here (2040, 2668) are of this kind - only 5 instances. And numbers 5,000 or past are used maybe zero times. I've seen a number past 5,000 written on a card with a body once, but it seemed odd, out-of-place, and everything else says they stop just before that and re-start with a new letter suffix for body numbers, and no other system is seen ticking that high. 215's detainee/body numbers stop in the low 4,000s, and everyone else's stop far lower than that (except the stray, misplaced-seeming high numbers found here and there).

Usually, the 4-9 outer repetitions of a given number won't come close at all to lining up, on the calendar, with the same number on the one system running inside the hospital. But with that many systems running at once, it's likely at least 2, and even "several" cases will. They probably wouldn't line up down to the day, but close enough to explain the two cases of possible or near-matches we've seen. And so I propose something very much like this does in fact explain it.

Some Closing Thoughts and Overview
If this is the kind of coincidental line-up I propose, it could be tested against the documents by anyone with access. There wouldn't be any non-227 "detainees" that roughly match with the hospital's /0 system in this span (e.g. branch 215 bodies were numbered in the 3100s at this time, and no one else issued number so high, except AF intel, but just a few and sporadically, and at random times -allegedly. Let's skip that for now). And even 227s will fail to line-up outside this time-span. Investigators well be able to find a couple more detainees who died around the time their own numbers line up the same way with some branch of the bodies out back, even if these are two different systems. One with enough data may could test that against the hypothesized /0 system for logical consistency - is the number too small or too large to make sense at that date? Or does my theory still make sense even with that added point? 

But if this is just a trick here, one could not locate the thousands of death reports suggested by the December order to document every death in custody see part 2), to show in thousands of cases heart attack claimed, body held with current branch number regardless of the date, that lines up with the numbers on those starved bodies ... I suspect there are only dozens, not thousands, of such reports, because there was no systematic killing. and it's probably just these 2 and possibly a couple more that have that convenient feature  of seeming to line up with photo victims.

The later case is said to be just one of at least "several" shown the Channel 4, each with "matching Caesar photos." How well these others matched is unclear. As noted, every number from 1 to whatever was used 5-10 times here, so it means nothing that they found a matching number in several cases. If their interpretation is right, there should be thousands of these matches, all being number AND date matches. But maybe all but 2 or 3 of these "several" are just some random rare detainee death that has a best of 1-3 matches in the photo set, but the dates don't even come close to matching, so the CIJA don't give out any details, even to Channel 4

As shown, that "several" might be the few sheets on top of some binder, or maybe the whole binder as well - that's unclear. The two we see (one presumably being the one included on the show) are both 95% redacted. 

But no, we'd need more information - more examples with clearer matching details, a better sense of the timeline that winds up a true match, etc. - before it would be wise to link these benign-seeming documents to that horrific crime spree.

Also consider how these 227 matches fly in the face of - or combine awkwardly with - a previous explanation offered by the central witness in all this, "the Defector code-named Caesar."

As the 2014 Carter-Ruck report was paid by the Qatari royal family to explain "the procedure for documentation was that when a detainee was killed each body was given a reference number which related to that branch of the security service responsible for his detention and death." That's the top dual-number in this card shown at right, as a refresher. "Caesar" himself later claimed it was a prisoner number issued on order of arrest. But noting how every prisoner would then be killed in their order of arrest, the Carter-Ruck report, Human Rights Watch, and others have overlooked that claim to decide this number is issued only upon death. It's a branch-specific dead body number. But opinions differ, even among those blaming "Assad."

Then, the Carter-Ruck report continues, "When the corpse was taken to the military hospital it was given a further number so as to document, falsely, that death had occurred in the hospital." They were citing the explanation provided by "Caesar." (p. 13, under "V. The Evidence of “Caesar”") This will be the hospital number as seen above, the number used for the big timeline further above, that runs to 5,000, then re-starts with a /b. HRW and others have repeated this over the years, and it seemed like the evident truth. 

But in these specific cases considered in this long post, the CIJA now propose hospital storage number is adopted from the responsible MI branch # (issued at death? So only then?). So their detainee/body # 227-xxx becomes xxx/0, maybe with other branches swapped out with 1s and whatever. The bottom number has no clear use in that scenario. If it had much value like Carter-Ruck heard, it should be sent back to MI leadership for their reference, as the new thing added at the hospital. But only their own alleged prisoner number (already known) is re-affirmed here. That seems pointless.

So "Caesar" and the CIJA may contradict each other here - or not. The logical way they might correlate that so no one is wrong: there's  a number for the prisoner/stored body (top), and one for the covering paperwork (bottom). A card shows them together for correlation. So the late case is stored under 2667/0, and then given a false death report numbered 4738/b. Why not file the paperwork conveniently under the number used for storage? Who cares? It's going to the Hague!

And it's not the biggest or clearest deal I've seen. But it does seem like both numbers are cited for the same basic purpose because too many people are trying too hard to take these heart attack reports (alleged thousands of them, at least a few proven) and connect them to those thousands of very real dead bodies. Different people link them randomly to every number they see, at different times, making short-circuits likely.