Update May 23rd
A small but significant update. After the LCC statement I've been trying to find a reliable witness inside Saraqeb to confirm what actually happened, and I've managed to find a very reliable source. A resident in Saraqeb, who does not want to be identified, has confirmed the incident happened and that he witnessed it.
Update May 23rd
The LCC in Saraqeb
has now issued a statement on the Security Battalion
This is an important notice concerning the whipping incident in the city of Saraqeb:
Almost all the residents of Saraqeb don’t know anything about the so-called Security Battalion or its members or the laws they are trying to enforce. The majority of Sarqeb’s residents were displaced by the regime’s constant shelling of the town, so they didn’t approve the formation of this battalion. We confirm that what happened in the public market was done by intruders and infiltrators that the people of Saraqeb don’t recognize. This parody was performed with the assistance of two men who were brought to trial based on unconvincing accusations and were whipped by anonymous people.
The revolutionaries of Saraqeb disclaim any knowledge of this hastily executed parody, and it’s clear that who carried it out sought to defame the reputation of Saraqeb at a time when almost all its fighters are at the front lines and battlefields in Idlib, Aleppo, Homs, Lattakia and elsewhere. Moreover, this happened at a time when the regime desperately seeks to turn the attention of the world away from the crimes and atrocities they are committing against our great people.
We strongly condemn this act and repudiate it, and we call on every one not to come up with such a folly since it serves the regime only.
The following video was posted on a recently created Facebook page for a group calling themselves "The Security Battalion In Saraqeb"
The video shows the spokesperson for the group reading from a statement and reciting some of Prophet Muhammad's Hadiths (His sayings, which are considered by Muslims the second source of legislation after the Quran). The hadith says: "Carrying out one of God’s orders is better than the rainfall of forty days." The man continues:
The Sharia Court of Saraqeb ruled that both Ahmed Muhammad Al-Rai’I and Mustafa Hussein Al-Amno , who are residents of Saraqeb, must be whipped because they breached the law of God by wrongfully legalizing what God has prohibited. The first man was indicted for marrying off his daughter to the other man while she was still in her waiting period, which was prescribed by Sharia as three-month period. This period gives the two sides a chance to reconsider their decision to divorce. However, the criminal father married off his daughter while in her waiting period. The man dared to do so ignoring the Sharia Court warning that the marriage contract is invalid, so he was indicted for marrying off his daughter to a man considered a stranger to her, since the marriage contract isinvalid and against Sharia Law. He breached the law of God by legalizing what God has prohibited, so he deserves death. However, due to the current situation of society the court ruled that father must be whipped fifty times while the other one forty times.
The Security Battalion In Saraqeb Facebook page was created a week ago, and appears to be a newly formed group policing the town of Saraqeb, Idlib
. One of their first posts on their Facebook page is a mission statement
We are a group of Muslim youth drawn from all jihadist battalions in the town of Saraqeb and its countryside. We committed ourselves to restoring peace and security in Saraqeb and Idlib and the rest of the country.
Our goals are:
- To provide peace and security to our people as much as we can.
- To implement the decisions and sentences of Sharia Court.
- To help Muslims, especially who pass by the town.
- To chase criminals such as burglars and bandits and to raid their hideouts.
- To severely punish whoever breaches the codes of conduct.
Characteristics of the security jihadist:
1- Sincerity of intentions 2- Piety 3- Commitment to prayers 4- Honesty 5- Candour and validation of information 6- patience and good manners 7- bravery 8- work in stressful situations 9- Compliance with the orders and instructions 10- Sincerity of intention 11-giving for the sake of God 12- Forgiveness 13- kindness and gentleness with Muslims.
Instructions and guidelines:
Commitment to the official working hours.
Commitment only to the task entrusted.
To keep the secrets of the Security Battalion and not to divulge them to anybody.
Non-interference in non-vested tasks.
Not to waste time in implementing the tasks.
To take care of the Muslims' private and public property.
Readiness to perform the task at any time.
Commitment to the Sharia lessons.
Not to have doubts about the honesty of the Security Battalion members and to think well of them.
To immediately report all grievances and complaints to the leadership.
To pledge allegiance to the Security Battalion.
Whoever does any of the following will be dismissed:
Abuse of power for personal purposes.
Maltreatment of people and hurting them.
Divulging Battalion secrets.
Unjustified and long absences.
Passing unconfirmed information that may cause harm to Muslims.
Individual actions and decisions that may cause embarrassment to the Security Battalion.
There Facebook page also has various other details that tells us more about this newly formed group, including this group photograph
This photograph appears to have been taken on the same day the video was filmed, as several of the men in the photograph appear in the video wearing the same clothes. The man on the back row, to the far right, is reading the statement, with the black pen in his pocket visible in the video. In the video we also see this masked man, who carries out the punishment
From the photograph it's actually quite easy to identify this individual as the man second from the right on the back row based off his clothes.
There's also a number of other reports on their Facebook page detailing their other activities, including 50 lashes for thieves
in front of crowds in the local market, the arrest of men attempting kidnap
, the return of a stolen vehicl
e to it's owner, among others. There's also a post
showing a photograph from the execution of three men in Raqqa by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham
, which might suggest their support for such actions. This post
may also reflect infighting among groups in Saraqeb
Abdul-Maiz Hilal doesn’t represent the Sharia Court in Saraqeb nor any side else and he was dismissed from the Sharia Court. Also Hussam Abu Dai doesn’t represent the free people of Saraqeb and he is now on the wanted list.
They've also felt moved to respond
to Sameer Nashar
statement on the actions of Abu Sakkar
A message from the Security Battalion to one of the opposition figures in exile.Sameer Nashar: "The Syrian people are on the horns of a dilemma; they have to choose either Bashar or the extremists."
Mr. Sameer, those people who you are calling 'extremists' are sacrificing their blood and lives to defend us while you are standing idle not knowing what to do. Those who you are describing as extremists are sharing our suffering under the regime's bombardment and siege, in the orchards, fields and mountains while you and others are hanging around in hotels and imploring the international community for help.
The world is abstaining from giving us support due to adopting this subservient position. Moreover, statements like these are more likely to create strife and unrest amongst the revolutionaries. Mr. Nashar, this is not your first fault but we hope it is the last one. You don't represent us and you are not entitled to speak in our name.
The whipping videos has already appeared on State TV
, and it does beg the question whether or not this is something that happening across Syria in towns where Jihadist groups are active. Alleged Shabiha Tried And Executed In AleppoZaino Berri, Shabiha Leader, Captured And ExecutedYou can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmosesgmail [dot] com (brownmosesgmail [dot] com)