Syria militiaman: I raped and murdered for £300 a month

Jul 15, 2012

Pro-Assad Shabiha member captured by rebels tells how he enjoyed the power that allowed him to kill and rape with impunity

A CAPTURED member of Syria’s feared pro-government Shabiha militia has told how he raped and murdered on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad for the equivalent of £300 per month.

Despite facing almost certain execution by his captors in the Free Syrian Army, ‘Mohammed’, a prisoner in a cave in northern Syria’s Idlib province, showed no remorse, telling The Sunday Telegraph that he enjoyed the work and the privileges that came with it.

"We love Assad because the government gave us all the power - if I wanted to take something, kill a person or rape a girl I could," said Mohammed.

"The government gave me 30,000 Syrian pounds per month and an extra 10,000 per person that I captured or killed. I raped one girl, and my commander raped many times. It was normal."

Ruth Sherlock, the Telegraph correspondent who met Mohammed, is a veteran of rebel jails in Libya, where some prisoners were clearly following a script. She is convinced of this Shabiha’s testimony.

Unlike his fellow prisoners, who are Syrian army conscripts and more likely to be treated as prisoners of war, Mohammed has a well developed physique – apparently a common hallmark of Shabiha militiamen.

Mohammed says his motivation was not so much loyalty to his fellow Alawite Muslim leader President Assad as the power and money he was handed.

He relates the crimes he committed in the city of Aleppo, where he shot dead a protester and raped and murdered a student. “It was daytime and I was driving around the city with my boss. She was passing on the street. I said to my boss, 'What do you think about this girl? Is she not beautiful?'

"We grabbed her and put her into the car. We drove to an abandoned home and we both raped her. After we finished we killed her. She knew our faces and our neighbours, so she could not live."

Meanwhile, the United Nations has cast doubt on opposition accounts of a government-led attack on the village of Tremseh war-torn Homs province last week which resulted in the deaths of at least 200 people.

The Week reported on Friday how Tremseh, a Sunni Muslim enclave in the war-torn province of Homs had come under fire the previous day from helicopter gunships and tanks before Shabiha militiamen attacked.

Opposition groups claim the offensive was an indiscriminate massacre with Shabiha “executing” members of every family in the village after rebel defenders had pulled out.

However, a United Nations report compiled by observers on the ground now at least partially tallies with Syrian government claims that the attack was targeted against rebels – or “armed terrorist groups”, as state TV called them.

According to the BBC, UN spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh said: "A wide range of weapons were used, including artillery, mortars and small arms.

"The attack on Tremseh appeared targeted at specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists.

"There were pools of blood and blood spatters in rooms of several homes together with bullet cases."

The UN observers are not sure exactly how many people were killed, and are due to return to Tremseh today.

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As a western Brit, I worry about the truthfullness of the Syrian conflict purported by the mass media. What would Assads motivation be to pay a thug? Surely he could pay a professional if he wanted people killed?