March 12, 2013
By Abbas Deiri
The opposition Syrian Revolution General Commission on Monday posted what it purports to be a list of more than 96,000 Syrians wanted by the country’s many intelligence agencies, collectively called the mukhabarat.
The Commission, a coalition of more than 40 opposition groups, stressed in a statement on Monday that Syrians should “be careful.”
Some of the wanted include the names of 14-year-old children. The list, for example, describes a person born in 1999 as a “dangerous armed terrorist.”
Other children of the same age are declared wanted by the Political Security Department, another intelligence agency, for inciting protests.
The names come from paid informants, said Khaled al-Khawaldi, a former First Adjutant Officer in the Palestine Branch, one of Syria’s many intelligence agencies. “They are civilians and have civilian occupations, such as a taxi driver or realtor,” al-Khawaldi said.
It is not surprising the list was leaked, al-Khawaldi said, because “we, the defectors, had worked with the Free Syrian Army before we defected.” The central intelligence agencies tap into all wanted lists across the country, the former officer said. He confirmed that children under 18 were arrested by authorities by saying, “Before I defected, I had arrested many children.” [The full interview is here.]
The more than 3,200 pages of wanted citizens are real, the former security officer said. “We can tell it came from an intelligence branch because these branches have access to the national population register,” al-Khawaldi said.
The list methodically lays out the person’s name, parents’ names, birthplace, age, address and a “notes” section with observations such as “leader of the most prominent armed group in Idlib province,” “liaison between armed groups in the Damascus countryside,” and some as simple as “financer” – meaning of so-called terror activities.
One Syrian named Mohammed Mukhbat, born in 1988 to Fares and Miriam Mukhbat in Idlib, is listed as living in Damascus (with last known address included) and wanted for being an “inciter.” In the notes section, Mukhbat is wanted for “sending threatening text messages by mobile phone to a security officer.” It is a crime most likely to be punished by death without trial in today’s Syria.
While sifting through the list of Syrians wanted by intelligence agencies, reporter Abbas Deiri discovered the names of friends and relatives from his home province of Daraa. He shares his thoughts:
As I was checking the names on the list for SAS News, I was surprised that some of my relatives, with whom I shared with many memories, were registered as “terrorists” or “dangerous criminals.”
They are my friends and relatives and some of them are old. I remembered their wrinkled faces just by reading their names.
One of my young relatives was on the list. We shared meals and drinks and used to play soccer together. He is a peaceful and loving man who cares for his family and fears for them. He was eager for the Syrian uprising and was filled with joy every time he witnessed a big protest. He not only participated in protests but was also involved in humanitarian assistance and the medical field. He took a first-aid course to serve his friends and family and save as many people as possible. To my surprise, he was listed as a wanted criminal.