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Kidnapping in Syria which is Under Control of various groups

Kidnapping in Syria which is Under Control of various groups

According to research reveal how officials in Syria kidnapped and extorted people.

It is sometimes difficult to conceptualize what the plight of the Syrian economy means for those living there. About 100 tankers of fuel flow into Syria from the Lebanese border, but the constant lack of gas limits families’ ability to heat their homes and faces large-scale power outages that already last for hours in regime-controlled areas. Likewise, hot water is a commodity only available to those with financial means and connections, and hot showers are a luxury in many parts of Syria.

Meanwhile, a UNHCR oilcloth is being sold on Facebook and women are selling their hair to feed their families – just two examples of the kind of entrepreneurship required to overcome multiple challenges in a country where there has been only war for the past decade.

Over the summer, the Syrian pound collapsed as US sanctions continued to deter international support for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, the coronavirus outbreak has likewise driven the collapse of the country’s economic infrastructure further. As Syrians sought ways to generate income, officials employed by the regime gained access to funds through extortion.

The most common type is the enforced detention or release of loved ones, whose families have to bribe the authorities for their later visitation rights. A report in January highlights the scale of such extortion operations that have been the basis of regime tactics for years but are now widespread, especially given the country’s ongoing war and collapsed economy.

Sednaya Prison investigated more than 1,200 detainees and their families in a report prepared by the Prisoners and Disappearances Association. Participants said that in a prison bribery had risen to about $ 3 million, but its range had changed. Visit or evacuation fees were usually several thousand dollars or less, but the bribery would be increased to an average of $ 30,000 for families living outside Syria.

According to Qassioun, a Syrian newspaper, the report highlighted how these payments – far more than the average monthly public sector annual salary – could feed the country’s security apparatus and regime through guards, judges, military personnel and intermediaries. facilitate negotiations. According to the report, “The Syrian Arab Army is primarily responsible for such arrests.”

Kidnapping in Syria which is Under Control of various groups

It describes a civilian living in regime-controlled Western Syria that provides context for how ordinary civilians witnessed and were affected by such extortion plans, which remain a mainstay of daily life.

A Military Intelligence Officer:

How often are you involved with this process? What is your role and is it worth the outcome?

I have never done it personally and would never do it.

Would you say it’s an acceptable practice?

It’s an immoral practice. It is happening, I see it every day, but I would never do it, I was not raised like this, I don’t take advantage of people in need, but sadly that’s only me.

How many people come to you every week for this type of assistance?

At least one person asks for a favor each month. I help for free when I can, and I rarely can help. In other cases, people insist too much and I feel bad for them so I refer them to someone else, someone corrupt, but someone who can actually help. I never take gifts or cuts for such deals.

My family relies on me. Earlier on in the war, I had to make the choice to join the military intelligence. I had to enlist otherwise I was going into mandatory service. In Syria, a few months or a year in the army would be bad. I might get hurt and I, my family, could not afford this. So I opted to enlist. I do not approve of what’s going on in my workplace.

How does your involvement typically manifest?

In some cases they would arrest someone and he’d be set to be free in a month or so, so there are no charges against him, nothing; still, what they would do, the officers would reach out to the man’s family and threaten them, scare them off, for money. But he would otherwise be free in a month, because he did nothing. The family doesn’t know that. This goes for minor offenses.

Sometimes they use cases like this to blackmail people simply because someone is already getting out, no need to pay anything, they would say he will stay forever or complicate his release to get money.

A Civilian Living in Regime-Controlled Syria:

How common is it for a family to pay for information on a disappeared person?

It’s fairly common if someone gets arrested by the intelligence apparatus for trafficking arms or drugs, nothing political—the normal things. His family has no way of knowing where he is, because they will not be informed even if they took him from his house. The officials will not tell them from which branch the security officials are. They will keep the family in the dark. The families will have to go and seek someone they know in the intelligence community or look up someone who would take money for information on where their son is.

What is the cost to families?

Say you want to know where someone is for something normal, something criminal. I guess you would pay around $10 dollars. If you want to know if you’re wanted by officials, you might pay $10 to $20. Some take no less than $100. It depends on where you’re from, if you know the officer, if you don’t know the officer. It varies so much. If you’re in jail for political reasons and your family wants to get you freed, however, we’re talking $2,000 dollars or more.

Sometimes, if you are wanted for very serious political actions, $20,000 or $40,000, but even then $500 can solve the problem.

Have you witnessed this [where you live], the abduction and recovery process?

I’ve witnessed this. Here’s how it goes. Your son gets arrested, so you look up officers in the branch where you think your son is. You contact them and ask about your son. The officer says he will look up the son for information and then come and say, ‘Officer so-and-so knows where your son is or what he’s wanted for or what will get him released and he wants this much money for the information.’ The officer says, ‘Once you pay me I can get the money to him.’

So the family would pay the first officer who’s in the middle and he’d take the cut and deliver the rest to the officer-in-charge. The family then finds out where their son is or they get scammed. Air force intelligence says he’s here, but the military intelligence says he’s there. It’s just corrupt.

With the coronavirus pandemic, has this practice decreased or intensified?

The coronavirus pandemic has made no difference at all, as this was the normal operation before 2011, and after 2011 there was an increase. Today it is at an all-time high. The coronavirus pandemic did not make any change or slow it down or increase it. It’s just continued on.

Is it a way for the regime to make money during a period of sanctions?

It’s not a way for the regime to make money. It’s a way for the intelligence community or military officials to make money. And it did not increase after the [Caesar] sanctions. It remains as it had before. Maybe more officials will be encouraged to do it now because of the economic situation. Some officers who would have said they would never, now they might because they need more money after the Syrian Pound collapsed. Sanctions may have made it worse. I can’t say for sure.

Personnel officers of these intelligence and security branches are benefiting on the personal level. It’s systemic but there is no money going to, for example, to war efforts or the country’s economy. Personal gains. Nothing more.