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

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Trial by Word Salad

"Douma Hostage Massacre": Trial by Word Salad
November 10, 2018

I recently resurrected the old Douma Hostage Massacre story of August, 2012, seeing how it hadn't stuck very well before - I produced an undeniable clarified visual match, with explanation of all the coincidences required to evade the conclusion: Islamist militants slaughtered the same soldiers and policemen they had just arrested, and passed the bodies off as innocent "youths" killed by "Assad's thugs." As noted there, the story originates with a brilliant German woman, Ursula Behr, who recently died of cancer, partly spurring this review. 

Anyone who's seen that and doesn't like it might be wondering how to challenge the obvious-seeming evidence. The rest of this post shows how you don't do it  - folks, do not attempt this jack-ass behavior at home. 

A different class of responses from a wider pool of respondents wisely emphasizes not engaging the evidence, and will be covered in another post. Now, we look at the best and only challenge that grudgingly considers the primary evidence in a very poor manner.

"Rami" (@DyingSlow on Twitter) is a self-described Atheist Syrian living in Canada, who has fiercely adopted every claim of the Sunni-extremist mainstream of the uprising - especially their line that there are no extremists. His avatar shows White Helmets as the standard "Heores." As a SYRIAN he claims intimate knowledge of events, authority to speak for all Syrians, who all oppose Assad and rose up peacefully, none of whom are Islamists, or criminal, ever, and received no outside help. And he knows about this … somewhow. He claims connections in Syria, but all the points he brings are from the same dubious mainstream sources anyone can link to.

This Atheist supporter of the non-Jihad also gets to be an expert on events in Libya somehow. And Iran, everywhere else of interest to the global takfiri project. And he's also on occasion an expert on video artifacting, and psychology, and whatever else... just enough to uphold every major Jihadist trope, no matter how widely discredited. He seems to think Iran and Shi'ism as the sole source of Islamism and oppression in the world. And maybe Communism. He's best known for the phrase "misguided foreigner Putin's troll," which he uses nearly once per tweet on average when he's in "debate" mode. His displays of idiocy were so conspicuous and then sporadic my doubts led to the question - finally explained better here - can they really be this stupid? I decided in this case, no - he was playing dumb to invite *education* that's really just his way of wasting your time.

But this is all general portrait, sort of broad-strokes impression, and not the main subject, which is how he handled the findings Ursula Behr originated in 2012. he's the only one to remain engaged - I suspect to keep wasting my time - to awkwardly deny the evidence up-close in more detail. So he offers a preview of what lies ahead to those who persist and don't block me right off, and a good reason why, perhaps, the others decided to cut it short.

But even with Rami, it took a while to get there.

Initial Dancing Around the Subject: video, language, and doubt
First, Rami didn't take to talking about it, because he was sure I had no such videos, maybe used some misattributed video for the still I had shown so far, in a totally fake case.

(minor errors in the details I offered here - and throughout, rushed typos - apologies - trying to waste that time, but minimize it a bit at the same time...)

I find one copy of one of the bodies video I can link to, and he seems unsurprised that it's actually real, not a hallucination or a troll-lie. (Because he knew it was real all along?) With no hint of regret for that false lead, he instantly started claiming I don't understand the claims, or Arabic, and I'm changing the meaning and casting doubt on the whole language - because I disbelieve the video's claims. The title auto-translates fine, to say what Rami says it says, and I presume the narration says the same. I just don't buy what it says. but  if I could understand it myself, without a translator, he suggests I'd realize the claims were somehow all true. But that makes no sense, considering the same men are also seen held by local militants, not by regime forces. That's simply not a language issue.

This is where a reasonable moron who's not on a time-wasting mission should finally start to get that he was ranting from confusion, and he should go and sort it out before continuing. I thought he might be, due to a coincidence in noise patterns. But Rami soon continued with no sign of learning. Some remixed responses

Little-known fact for those like Rami, who doubt every claim from the government of the Syrian Arab Republic, always formally issued in Arabic … people can lie in Arabic! A corollary of that; when they do, it should be disputed. Publicly, Rami would agree to that. But he offered no evidence the video title was true, nor the presumably matching narrative, by people with access to these recently-massacred Syrians. All he could do is repeat what it said, point out that it's in Arabic, as if that guarantees its veracity. And that's not my language, so I have no right to translate and make sense of it... and/or I did it wrong … he doesn't specify.

Several people clicked like on his sharp little assertions to that effect, apparently thinking he'd gotten us in some lie or error.

I mention I've got 2 videos here, both translated fine. He keeps on about the one I dispute the honesty of. Then I managed to flip this around to discuss the other video he had ignored so far, showing the men as captives of the militants, seeing if we can get to the point here … 

No we did not agree! Of course, it can never be that way with this self-appointed spokesman for all Syrians...

So next Rami challenges my reading of this other video's content and translation, calling me "hopeless" for making such suspect errors (see tweets below). As it happens, he had no valid basis. He asserted the captives are all military men, and did not include any policemen as I said, and that the group contains a senior officer. I never denied there was a senior officer, and in fact I helped explain (in case he missed it?) he's a police brigadier, not military. Or anyway Abd-al-Bari Abdullah says his post is at Damascus police HQ (a military unit based there?). Another man introduces himself as "Farouk Ismail, policeman." He's one of the 6 apparently seen dead. The other 14, it seems, are military; 3 officers (2 are "first assistant" - equates with warrant officer first class - and one is "assistant recruit," unclear equation), and 11 men who introduce themselves a "military recruit" or just "recruit."

That was all in Arabic, of course. I have a hard time picking out spoken Arabic, and only know a few handfuls of words anyway. I can assemble words letter-by-letter, recognize most letters, and can sound out words, if not understand the meaning - I have some grasp at least (good with languages, and been working with this one for 7 years now). Luckily, Amin2511 on Twitter - who knows it more natively - was my transcriptionist to get the text I could work with. A few others could have, but he's been available lately, and real good. I take that text and post it, and auto-translate with double-checking and refinements. Amin usually reviews it and helps with any rough spots. 

Our process isn't foolproof (some unclear audio, rank translation not so clear, etc.), but it's at least basically correct. I like being hands-on and going word-by-word, and unlocking that evidence. Cool process, good results. And so far Rami can only point to errors that don't really exist. I asked him twice to show the translation errors he implied, and he refused, citing "fun."

I contend: he lied, in a malicious effort to waste more time and cast more doubt. Amin speaks Arabic fine, actually was helpful, made no errors anyone can point to, AND shared the same healthy skepticism of the claims made in his own language - he too disputes the claims lodge by men apparently linked to the murderers. Who accepts their illogical claims? Rami, who makes up fake content just to cast doubt, laboring to maintain ignorance here. He makes it look easy and "fun," but this is serious work he must have some reason for undertaking.

Finally, The Argument! It's Some Coincidence
I was getting ready to pull together his acknowledged detention of those military-police guys with their being the same men shown dead, when Amin2511 popped in to help explain what Rami *seemed* to be missing. But he already knew, and was able to laugh it off instantly with the claim - and this is the first claim anyone offered against this evidence itself - the videos show two different sets of people. Now why did he just not say that from the start? Because that would waste less time.

And he quickly offered a formula I called "too-good-for-a-retard" to dismiss our findings in advance, whichever of two options we might take:

Note on the WH examples he cited as an example of bad racist matching: AFAIK there's nothing wrong with those, but I just ignored that to keep on track, which isn't easy with Rami. I took his point that face matches can be and often are wrong, or unfounded, and that might entail latent racism (they all look alike), depending, and it's hard to tell for sure... I just stayed focused on how that's not the case here.

So he acknowledges the story here, after much dawdling, and with suspicious speed and cleverness, he proposes the match means we're racist (if it's a face match-up) or blind (if we match them by clothing). Amin2511 quickly offered 4 clothing-based matches of his own (We agree on all 4 - one included here, below.) So for Rami, the Arab is blind, not racist, by that formula. Also, he's insane and all alone, and should give up.
(note: horizontal stripes, not vertical. But well all see and know what he means - Osama Salim, see below)

Then I got my imagery together to show, for my part, it's a clothing and combination-logic match of all six bodies shown, with some limited support from matching/consistent features (see top link here). I'm cautious about face-matching in general, and this imagery is far below my threshold for all but the most basic things (like mustache presence and basic shape). So by Rami's formula, I'm mostly blind, a bit racist. I'm also of European ancestry, and Rami seems to class me as mostly racist but also blind, besides mentally ill, and a foreigner Putin's troll and/or baby Ayatollah that's misled and talking about a country I know NOTHING about, and he knows EVERYTHING about, from his seat in Canada.

A Mismatch?
Rami (and no one else) makes some random but specific arguments against a victim match. The only decent one worth pausing over is the apparent difference in stripes on the shirt worn by Osama Hassan vs. the man he might be. Rami thinks it's a spacing issue, but to me the spacing looks right, just the dark stripes have fuzzed to almost nothing in the poor view, and the color appears arguably more different than it should considering light differences). That's probably a simple lo-res video-compression and optics issue, but it might be more significant.

So no racist face stereotypes, no language problems, no logic problems, no visual problems really, except some late-arriving nitpicks …

Still, the shirt issues and the lack of any other obviously matching features, with even a mustache match or mismatch unclear, would raise a serious questions about that ID if his was a lone case. I sure as hell wouldn't match those 2 bodies as one based just on their own visuals, nor rule it out. However, he's one of the 4 quite-possible matches in the same group with the Asaad Dakhil and Hassan Ismail doppelgangers, again with both groups being prisoners of someone, one to each side, in the Harasta area on or around 17 August of 2012.

Even if that IS in fact a different man (seems fairly possible), at least those clearest two simply have to be the same men in both videos. There's no reasonable way around that. You don't get to say if one body is coincidence they all are. Rather, if one body is one of those prisoners of the local militants, the presumption is all of them were, even if the rest have no matches in that video of 16. At one match, the conclusion wouldn't be very strong. But here we have 2 that clear and undeniable, and 4 others of varying strength.

Sputtering Towards the Conclusion
But reasonable ways remain optional. For Rami, the problem remains my blinding racism, and then he decided, maybe for "fun" that Amin is also racist, or like a color-blinded reactionary cop anyway, in dismissing this and 3 other offered matches with similar self-amused flippancy.
Can I try thinking as Rami suggests, just for fun?
See, any non-racist would not make a big deal of 2 Arab guys wearing the same shirt. Aren't they allowed to do that? Would I subject them to a regime of only one Coca-Cola shirt per area, on young guys with mustaches and in blue jeans, that got arrested by someone? No, of course - 2 men held captive around Harasta on or near 17 August2012 are allowed to, and quite likely to be arrested in the same common shirt.

And any non-racist SYRIAN could spot the clear differences between these two men. One has a real blurry face, and he's held by rebels, so no way would he get murdered. The other guy has a different, dirtier Coca-Cola shirt, prob. diff. design or colors... he seems shorter, or maybe taller, hard to say, but def. not the same height … and he's got a clearer face, that's also way bloodier than the other guy's. Also he (and /or others) clearly have fatter cheeks than the prisoners do - on one side. And a flat cheek on the other? They're stiff, possibly zombies prior to death. Some seem to have become half-tree, growing dead leaves, probably at the wrong time of year...

Anyway, these inexplicable mutants are clearly different guys, who got murdered, so must have been held by the bad guys. And since each clothing coincidence could be just that, all of the matches combined must be a huge compound coincidence. And as Rami helped me to see, that's so crystal-clear that anyone who refuses to see it like I once did must have some terrible flaw or several that distorts their thinking or makes them lie. If only Amin and I had BOTH spoken Arabic, weren't so racist, could use our eyes, had basic sanity AND human decency, lived in Syria or were both Syrian, and understood who the one and only bad guy side responsible for every crime truly is … we'd think just like Rami claims to think, and be just as retarded as he behaves.

But even though he was on such a roll visually debunking our "weak propaganda," just getting going, really - Rami did not continue, and ran off chasing another way to dance around the whole issue. The Syrian government supposedly never claimed this match, proving it's fake (?), and such a horrible lie even that liar Mr. Assad regime knew he shouldn't try it. Ok. See me answer hours later when I had a minute, then hours later yet, Rami going off on how I never answered. Then a swift discovery of yet another lie in the answer... (and note: times show may seem odd - I work nights, and do most of my online work after that, well into the morning, before I sleep through the day)

He's sure, with at most 11 minutes of research, that I'm proven to be lying yet again, just like at every other turn so far. So predictable for the Putin toll.... I'll re-locate that report if possible when I'm ready. We didn't make up that it had a video version on YouTube at the time. It's possible for example Addounia retracted the story later, following on some phone calls from guys holding more hostages, and a government request...  But probably it's still there, and only the video was removed, or their whole channel (this happens sometime for unclear reasons, with pro-Syrian media channels). I could find out right on his demand to see what new lie Rami switches to next, but I cut the time wasting at that blindness reply, assisted at first by the mute feature.

I finished the visual matching and muted Rami at about the same time. So it's hard to say what caused his mellowing out on my crimes - embarrassment, exhaustion, or just boredom once I stopped feeding the troll (I un-muted him to check, and saw a mellowing). I'll leave it at these combined tweets.


  1. Strange isn't it- the anti-Assad side produce many documentaries, activists give interviews to Western news channels, White Helmets have their branding in English and countless social media campaigns. Given all this, the claim that non-Syrian 'foreigners' opinion really doesn't matter to them seems hard to take seriously.

    Also, if the 'right' people match 2 faces, it is suddenly indisputable proof (probably of a GRU operative)... and a bit surprising that the same social media 'group' never seem to be au fait with source videos anyway e.g. https://twitter.com/MaherBarotchi/status/1043788553157836800

    For anyone who genuinely has no agenda, no Putin or RT needed to see questionable WH links of course. All brushed aside when inconvenient

    1. Andrew's back! Agreed on all points.

    2. I read some of their responses to Douma like this kind of thing https://twitter.com/deadlyvices/status/1062006676981776384 (where to start when they don't know the story, the scene, the testimony or the coniditions but are over-emotional and adamant that story they don't appear to know is true?) and needed a break

      Did Postol's new KS theory about a rocket ever appear anywhere? The Higgins Postol event doesn't seem to have made it to Youtube

    3. The 'Bellingcat defense force' seems to be having some kind of split personality problem too, this "Tea" has concocted a story of KS fragments being 100-300m away (based on absolutely nothing found as far as I can tell)


      by not complete coincidence, "DDTea" also thought this and jumped on Latamneh as 'proof' the fragments would all have flown further away at KS. I'm not sure if the comment is still there but he confirmed his own bias by looking at the wrong crater (the field further south!)

      "DDTea" -
      "What do you mean by “close by”? I’ve been running with the numbers 100-300m radius of the impact site"

      ...but say they *aren't* DDTea??

      I wonder how many others are just alt accounts

      Alaa al-Yousef's unexploded rocket makes more sense to me, would be interesting if Postol backs this theory. The JIM's "institute also observed that the use of a ground
      - launched munition was unlikely, as no remnants peculiar to a
      rocket had been evident in the crater or found in its vicinity.".. as you might expect had the rocket been removed.


    4. Based on nothing? Based on really low-bar knowledge of high explosives and shrapnel projection. I did not look at the wrong crater: I looked at the one Bellingcat geolocated based on tree line. The OPCW report cited a crater that was remote from the debris field. I know what I'm talking about--do you?

      High explosives project metal fragments rather far. Everyone is now talking about burster charges "not larger than 10 kg" (per Syrian govt in OPCW-UN JIM report), 5-6 kg (Postol in his 122mm rocket theory), and 3 kg (OPCW-FFM report on Latamneh incident, with evidence that same type of device was used in Latamneh and KS).

      That amount of high explosive will not leave most of the debris in the immediate blast area--that's an incredibly naive assumption.

    5. How many fragments were found 100-300m away in KS?

      I refer to this-
      "Much of the debris field containing remnants of the Sarin bomb is located 280 – 380 meters north of the crater: far removed from the immediate impact point."


      The crater is marked by the FFM "debris collection area" and was located independently before the BC article in October. The crater to the south was obviously not the crater shown in videos, no-one else thought it was the initial impact point.

      What can only be 07SDS is actually seen at the time in videos inside the crater so the FFM map cannot be reliable. The similar 'cap' was apparently found inside the crater at KS.. but all other fragments fly hundreds of meters, never to be found?

      4.10 "Based on the witness testimony and evidence supplied during interviews, the FFM identified potentially relevant munition parts and arranged for their collection. "

      The FFM, from parts presented by the White Helmets, chose those consistent with a chemical weapon. How many were rejected, removed or moved by the White Helmets or rejected by the FFM? Why are similar parts not shown for March 24th?

    6. 07SDS and videos showing where it was on the 30th


    7. No fragments 100-300m away of course so, like I said, based on nothing found. Mr Tea might have missed the word "found" I suppose.

      As an aside, as I don't know what I'm talking about and so must defer to other theories; I think this is my favourite bonkers theory for Douma

      "if the cylinder was placed there isn't the most likely party Assad or Russia...Time & resources & motive to do it."

      ..in the Assad DeLorean?

    8. ndrew, Mr. Tea - was late to catch this discussion.

      Debris spread - no expert, but it shouldn't all fly to a remote point. It would be in between. More should be seen. Seems likely cleand-up. Allegedly, 2 piece in the crater, none around the rest way out there? Doubt it.

      March 30 attack - I also never followed this case as well as i could. Reviewing...
      Figure 11 in the report - https://www.opcw.org/sites/default/files/documents/S_series/2017/en/s-1548-2017_e_.pdf
      That refers to one incident's crater and another's debris? There'a sort of crater those guys were at, in the right area. Had that cap thing sticking out right there.
      What happened half a km south? With nothing in between? That makes no sense.

      I see they OPCW shows the piece... 07SDS in the wrong spot. It was moved, or a pin was mislabeled.
      Considering the marking of an unrelated crater way south - the image attached does show a different spot. Weird. I might've missed the rational explanation linking it all...

    9. "Syrianviews" comment, thanks for the quote: I'm blocked from seeing them. They really should hire someone less stupid to handle that account.

    10. Both craters have a pin but the map only shows some of the sample locations. These being the only locations shown in a particular collection video might explain it, during collection the White Helmets do wander off to the south in the news agency videos.

      Probably noted already but "5.29 Soil samples and metal parts were received by the FFM team on 12 April 2017,
      17 July, and 17 August 2017."

      In table 2, they are receiving metal parts 18 July and nothing on 17 August so some mistakes/typos here? And no way to tell if it is an exhaustive list of samples.

      Given that they aren't going to be scrubbing fields and caves with bottles of Clor, which sarin events had comparable samples to those taken inside an apartment building in Douma?

    11. That's a lot of items to fin in one small area that far from the south crater. How much could there be between, and why two 'craters?' at all? Did it skip and then hit for real? The one only should matter - the debris all a bit to the north fits with impact from the south clues I noted at the time - black splash, etc. All goes north.

      Furthermore, we know that's the sarin bomb impact crater, because the filling cap piece is laying in it.

      To the south … oh yeah, duh. The conventional bomb in the same attack. OK, there should be 2 spots. And a possibility of mix-up between the sites.

    12. HRW seems to have witnesses (Anwar Rahmoun and everyone "on their way to work") and Abd al-Munaf Faraj al-Saleh saying "they could only find very small pieces of the munition on the ground". FFM says no-one saw it "None of the witnesses interviewed saw the planes drop munitions in their area." and the doctor even slept through the explosions: "the doctor, who was sleeping in accommodation at MF-A, was woken by rescuers".

      In fact the doctor tells HRW "The symptoms were different from those they had observed from previous attacks with chlorine" and "At first, we didn’t know what it was". Despite the phone call they had to make especially, they have miraculously forgotten 6 days earlier! The great memory loss of Latamneh.

      But someone will make up more excuses for this, as that seems to be the general pattern:


      Claim "death zone" is consistent.. without knowing the exact time and location of deaths- only the affected neighbourhood.


      Claim only "record inconsistencies" at hospitals ... with no idea what time the people actually arrived. The JIM didn't even investigate it.


      Mixes the CoI 43 interviews and the FFM statement, invents the need for a large conspiracy. The FFM only corroborated narrative "where possible" (i.e. not all of it) with 2 more they specifically haven't so they have 34 interviewed minus 2 from Damascus, WH who did sampling, doctors and nurses in other towns etc.- end result is not "tens" and with no clue to exactly which parts they could actually corroborate.

      When the CoI starts to describe their witness statements in Annex II, according to the JIM flight path info and other interviews anyone who has studied can see the statements are wrong- e.g. "interviewees recalled seeing an aircraft flying low over Khan Shaykhun" "made two passes over the town", AH wife + kids found on 5th etc.

      But to be expected I guess when they have obviously taken a side instead of simply looking at the event.

    13. To clarify, those who make up excuses have chosen a side not the CoI.

      And with opposition this sharp it is no wonder they lost the war


      "In Kobs' tweet above there is (again) the incorrect &baseless assertion that the gas was 1st smelt in the basement. [Hanan] does *not* say any such thing. Kobs made it up."

      They don't read or research any of this..
      "Hanan and his neighbors said that after the gas entered, the residents tried to get out of the cellar and then escaped to other rooms in the apartment building."

    14. For the record, not sure about MichaKob's take on Raslan meeting Dr Hazem at KS, I don't think there is enough info to be sure. Dr Hazem's story to JFL was different anyway: SNHR he takes one WH to al Rahma

      JFL it is many injured (but never made much sense that to have been seen in the videos he would have to have immediately left the medical point for al Rahma) "Soon, we started to receive the injured 300m away. After that, I headed to the hospital and received the injured." unless to JFL by "the injured" he meant one guy with respiratory problems.

      +Raslan just abandons the fuel seller boy to take cover (can't carry him?), fuel seller boy not killed by sarin but blown up by explosion 150m down the road, no-one survived to corroborate the balcony story, the ambulance that takes forever etc.

      Probably just confused though right?

      It must be tempting to weld fins to silly objects to see what gains traction as an 'Assad wonder weapon' or make feeble photoshops and see who claims 'Assadists' "took the chains out".

  2. I can't even see that tweet, as the guy blocked me.

    Postol theory and debate … I haven't seen anything lately. Someone in my e-mails is looking at it, didn't follow.

    Mr. Tea now refers to DD as another person, huh. Maybe a cousin, twin brothers who study the same stuff, going for the same degree? and speak a special language no one else understands... or he's just being self-referential for some reason? Seems like a game I don't care to play.

    Rocket ruled on from no debris: huh. And no debris from the sarin bomb, except a couple pieces set in the crater. No concern that whatever it was, all or almost all of it was removed. Most logical in a clean-up scenario is whatever weapon the cleaners have, and would want to clean up signs of. Duh.

    1. Postol + Higgins full KS video (haven't had chance to watch yet)


    2. Maybe not so interesting, would be more convinced Postol could identify the pipe-like object if it wasn't still stuck in the road in Khan Sheikhoun, had test results and so on. Perhaps someone will bother to actually dig it out one day.

      His other points you have already covered, not sure anything else is new.

      Higgins paused the video before the (supposed) locals could tell how a plane had never attacked with gas before the 30th (disputing the 24th) https://youtu.be/huhn-4Zbe1c?t=226

      ..and 'caps' landing in craters KS + L 30th, remnant differences and all other issues with the 24th. Everything Russia says is a lie.. apart from *this* schematic. Usual JIM report points etc. etc. Meltdown at the end seemed a bit unnecessary to me.


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