London, Asharq Al-Awsat – A Shabiha member has revealed how he was transformed into a killer-for-hire at the hands of the Bashar al-Assad regime, and how he used to kill and rape for the equivalent of $450 per month before he fell captive to the Syrian rebels.
Mohammed (not his real name) who is currently being held in a cave in the Idleb province in northern Syria told the British Sunday Telegraph, that he knows his death is imminent. According to the newspaper, for the equivalent of $450 plus a $150 bonus for each victim, Mohammed became a hired killer. Worse still, Mohammed told the newspaper that he had enjoyed every minute of it. He said: “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…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.”
Mohammed was captured a few weeks ago during an exchange of fire with units from the Free Syrian Army (FSA). He was imprisoned in the highland caves that were previously used by rebel units to hide from al-Assad’s forces and store weapons. However, after 16 months of the revolution, these caves have since transformed into prisons to house those captured from the regime’s forces.
According to the report in the Sunday Telegraph, Mohammed has a muscular, strong physique that meant he could be easily identified as a member of the Shabiha when he was caught, an affiliation that will ultimately seal his fate. Al-Assad’s ordinary soldiers may be treated as prisoners of war, but Shabiha figures such as Mohammed will be executed, given their notorious reputation across the province. Since he was under no illusions of mercy, Mohammed spoke to the newspaper openly about his crimes.
The Shabiha member said: “My friends were joining the Shabiha, and they encouraged me to come with them. I hesitated, and men in the local Air Force base beat me up until I agreed…I informed on people who didn’t like Assad, I captured them and I put them in jail. The government gave me a gun”.
Mohammed recounted one of the calculated rapes that he and his associates would often commit, saying: “She was a student of Aleppo University. 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.” He also admitted that he killed a man during an anti-Assad demonstration in the city.
According to the newspaper, Mohammed did not display any signs of nervousness that the reporter previously encountered when visiting those being held in rebel prisons in Libya, “where it was often obvious that some were following a confessional “script””. The reporter went on to say that: “Instead, the only glimmer of emotion came when I asked him just why he seemed so emotionless.”
“I grew up in a normal family, and I was taught to respect women,” he said. “But the devil took hold of my mind in those days.””