Updates on Palmyra and Hezbollah in Qalamoun

042119

With the recent news of the fall of Ramadi in Iraq and now Sirte in Libya, things are not looking good for these countries. The MSM is today claiming that the daeshbags have now captured the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, but as usual, this info is coming from the London-based, one-man Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. While the Syrian Arab Army had did retreat – thinking the city had been saved – the claim that ISIS are now in full control is false. From the Syrian Perspective:

The mistake was to assume that the ISIS threat was gone and to withdraw many troops from the city in order to protect other sites, especially the newly recovered gas and oil stations. This left the town largely unprotected. In addition to this, our military sources state that the bulk of the ISIS rodents were remnants of defeated units at the Al-Shaa’er Mountain area where many gas fields are located.

Friendly sites kept repeating that Palmyra was “strategically” important. Every site in Syria is reported as “strategically important” and its becoming nauseating. Palmyra is not important militarily unless you are a terrorism supporter, in which case, every hamlet becomes a major site for blocking this or that. It happens to be important strictly from the standpoint that it contains a tourism-rich Roman city considered a gem of architectural splendor in the desert.

All inhabitants of the town have been evacuated, just like Idlib. The rats won’t have anyone to behead here unless they can capture a soldier or militiaman.

The SAA has redeployed forces to all entrances to the town. All, I repeat “all”, corridors into the city are under the control of the SAA. SAA artillery and SAAF sorties are destroying whole nests of ISIS rats – a process made even easier by the evacuation of citizens. The SAA has already retaken the two checkpoints at the Museum and the Khattaab Quarter. There is an on-going pitched battle now around the National Security Building. The SAA has recovered control over the Military Security Headquarters and all Western Hills including the Desert Falcons Branch HQ and the Citadel.

As I write, I am informing NSNBC, that there is a very violent battle going on at the city center. The Palmyra ruins remain in the hands of the Syrian Army.
Read more at http://www.syrianperspective.com/2015/05/the-battle-for-palmyra-what-really-happened-according-to-our-military-sources.html#5MshfermpPu7YEjY.99

The mainstream media are basically acting as ISIS propagandists, claiming that the ‘fall’ of Palmyra suggests huge disarray within the Syrian army and its allied forces. In reality they are as united as ever, their setbacks are due to the so-called ’60 country anti-ISIS coalition’ being far more heavily invested in seeing Assad and Putin fall, not to mention the partition of Iraq, than defeating ISIS.

The US only carried out 7 air strikes over the course of the 24 hours in which Ramadi fell, and have threatened to suspend these token gestures altogether as the Shias are moving in – despite doing so at the request of Sunni tribesmen. A couple of days previously, the US violated Syria’s sovereignty to take out one guy. It is quite clear what is going on.

There was also an attempt to blow up the Russian embassy in Damascus today, with one Syrian security guard being killed. The same thing happened in Yemen – while Russia sent dozens of planes to rescue civilians of all nationalities, including many Americans – while the Yank planks wouldn’t life a finger to save their own citizens.

On a happier note, much progress has made by Hezbollah and the SAA in the Qalamoun. Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Nasrallah gave a speech on May 16 declaring victory is near (video below).  Here’s a clip of the allied forces celebrating their recent victories with a dakbe – a much-needed moment of respite in a war that may finally result in global suicide.

Victory for the Syrian ‘Revolutionaries’ in Idlib

Syrian rebels have been celebrating, having a few days ago captured the city of Idlib after days of intense fighting – causing the government’s forces to withdraw completely in the face of collapse.

A statue of Syrian national hero Ibrahim Hanano.
A statue of Syrian national hero Ibrahim Hanano.
Hanano fought for Syrian independence and was imprisoned by the French.
Hanano fought for Syrian independence and was imprisoned by the French.
His statue was pulled down and destroyed when the militants took the city.
His statue was pulled down and destroyed when the militants took the city.

The operation was undertaken by the “Fattah Army” coalition of rebel groups, which included al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate,  the al-Nusra Front. Other factions within the Fattah Army umbrella included  Ajnad al-Sham, Jund al-Aqsa, Jaish al-Sunna, Liwa al-Haqq,  and Faynad al-Sham. I can’t say I know much about any of these groups apart from al-Nusra, but having just Googled them, I see they’re all Islamist groups.

A source from within the Syrian military alleges that both Turkey and Jordan helped the militants capture the city, accusing both of planning the operation and supplying the insurgents with advanced communication apparatus. This information is likely to be accurate, as it was recently reported in some Arab media that Turkey was now directly helping the rebels. In February, the Turkish military violated Syrian sovereignty by leading an army convoy into northern Syria to evacuate a historic tomb, and the soldiers who were guarding it. However despite the media stating in their reporting of this incident that ISIS had earlier threatened to destroy the tomb, there had actually been no negative interactions between the two groups, and ISIS and Turkish soldiers had lived side-by-side peacefully for months. In fact Turkey has also allowed ISIS to use its territory to stage attacks, including on Kobane, and there is currently a black flag flying atop a Turkish village along the Turkish-Syrian border. Thus it is most likely that at least Turkey helped with the taking of Idlib.

The al-Nusra Front declared their conquest by tweeting: “Thanks be to God, the city of Idlib has been liberated,” in response to their new victory.

The head of the Free Syrian Army – General Salim Idriss – also seemed to endorse the outcome of Fattah Army’s campaign, as can be seen below.

photo 3

In a later tweet he then stated that the Nusra Front are only “al-Qaeda affiliated”, and must “defect,” in order to become good little moderates like himself.

Due to the source of amusement and ridicule these comments were to Syria supporters – with Idriss having previously aligned himself and the FSA with the goals of a liberal democracy – the Western-backed opposition, the Syrian National Coalition, ended up releasing a statement announcing that the Twitter account was a hoax, and that Idriss does not use social media in an official capacity. The Idriss account now states that it’s a parody profile.

photo 2

However it is interesting that the SNC or the “Secretary of Defense in the interim Syrian government” felt the need to distance  Idriss from al-Nusra and “extremism and terrorism,” when they themselves hailed the taking of the city, saying that it was an “important victory on the road to the full liberation of Syrian soil from the Assad regime and its allies.” They also made fresh pleas for more assistance from the West.

The statement is also a bit odd because many high-figures within the FSA have openly collaborated with ISIS and al-Nusra, and have been filmed doing so and talking about it. The SNC and their US, British, French and Gulf backers don’t really care about who’s “moderate,” they’re happy for anyone – no matter how ideologically insane – to get the job of removing the Assad government done. All this stuff about moderates is just PR for the domestic audiences.

photo 2

photo 1

As for these supposed 5000 “moderates” that the US are going to be sending into Syria each year…anyone who is willing to take up arms against both ISIS and the Syrian Arab Army five years into a civil war has to be a complete nut-job. I’m also pretty sure that whoever’s doing the vetting process isn’t being too strict. Currently it seems like they (the US army) is having trouble finding recruits, having a total of 300 men at last count. However let’s face it, these guys probably aren’t going to fight ISIS at all. Just as the FSA told Theo Padnos – the American journalist who was kidnapped and handed over to al-Nusra by the FSA – they lied to the Americans about working and sharing weapons with al-Nusra, there’s nothing to stop this new group doing the same.

What does need to be said about these fresh recruits is that they could be a Trojan horse for the West to directly wage war on the Syrian government. The Obama administration is currently thinking up legislation that will protect these forces should they come under attack from the SAA, and this may include some US forces working alongside the ‘rebels’. It could also possibly include even more US soldiers being sent in as a result of such an attack. This all seems like laying a trap for Assad, as it essentially means America’s mercenaries are free to attack the Syrian army, but if they attack in retaliation, this will allow the US and its allies to intervene. And obviously, if these guys are causing bloody havoc in their country, the SAA will need to do something about it.

To return to Idlib…

It seems that some ‘revolutionaries’ are no longer satisfied with the way things are now being run there. For example:

photo 1

Isn’t this to be expected from a city taken over by Islamists? In the government half of Aleppo, nightclubs have started to reopen every night, and there are always people to be found there at 3am. On the rebel-held half of the city, restaurants and cafes are split into male only and family sections – just like in Saudi Arabia. I suspect things are about to get a lot worse in Idlib.

The video below was posted on May 30th:

(It shows Islamists engaging in Takbeers before being interrupted by SAA warplanes overhead, and is quite amusing – in fact it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of guys!)

I assume the barrel bombs have just begun to fall on Idlib.

photo
Idlib after government bombing
Taken on 3rd April 2015.
Taken on 3rd April 2015.

German Media Reveals ISIS Supply Routes

Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) have released a report containing concrete evidence that supplies for the Islamic State are entering Syria via its Turkish border. Hundreds of trucks containing billions of dollars worth of supplies such as food, weapons, and cement are allowed to pass freely through checkpoints. One driver tells DW that his vehicle is bound for Raqqa – ISIS’s self-appointed capital. Militants are also allowed to cross the border freely, while the Turkish army has used tear gas, water cannon, and even shot dead Turkish Kurds attempting to make their way to Kobani.

Much of the British public has been shocked by the clear display of cooperation between Ankara and ISIS, saying that they should be chucked out of NATO. However NATO teamed up with Islamic militants in its war on Libya in 2011, so Turkey’s attitude is not that different – both the wars on Syria and Libya were fought to remove secular dictators. The ‘coalition’ to fight ISIS had already proved itself to be an utter farce, as the Americans and their Arab ‘partner nations’ have refused to include any of the actors who are actually on the ground fighting the jihadists: the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah, and Iran’s Quds Force, preferring instead to ally themselves with all those complicit in the creation of ISIS.

Their campaign to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ ISIS has so far failed to do the group any damage, and the US State Department actually released a statement a few days ago condemning the Syrian Air Force’s own strikes on ISIS. This does have to make you wonder what the Americans are trying to achieve here. Other rebel groups are complaining that the US has secretly allied itself with Assad, but with training camps currently being hosted in Qatar and Turkey, and another one planned to operate in Saudi Arabia, it looks like regime change for Syria is still on the menu.

Western Media’s Syria Narrative Shaped by One Guy

islamic-state-flag-plane-ap

Last weekend the world media was awash with articles claiming that ISIS militants are building their own air force, having apparently captured three fighter jets from the Syrian Arab Army. The Guardian’s piece states:

Islamic State (Isis) is takings its first steps towards building an air force by training pilots to fly captured fighter planes, according to a group monitoring the conflict in Syria.

Isis is using lots of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery and Jeeps taken from the Syrian and Iraqi armies but this is the first report that it has planes in the air.

Isis, which took the US by surprise this year with its rapid territorial expansion in Syria and Iraq, has three Russian-built MiG jets, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which appears to have a good network of observers on the ground and has often proved reliable in the past.

Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the British-based group, said Isis has trainers who had gained experience in the Iraqi air force under former president Saddam Hussein.

Abdulrahman cited witnesses who had seen the planes flying low over Aleppo, in rebel-held northern Syria.

If Isis was able to train pilots, they could mount 9/11-style suicide attacks on key installations in Damascus or Baghdad.

The astonishing part of this report however, is not the information regarding ISIS, but the fact that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – cited by every Western media agency since 2011 – consists of one guy sitting in an English apartment.

The SOHR is quoted in pretty much every article on Syria, essentially having shaped the West’s entire narrative of the war. However Rami Abdulrahman does not just run “the British-based group,” he is the British based group. He is also a member of the Syrian opposition, and can often be found at the British Foreign Office – where he has in the past met directly with ex-Foreign Secretary William Hague. The image below is of Abdulrahman exiting one such meeting.

SyrianShillRami

Evidently, this means the SOHR is not an impartial source. While Abdulrahman does get his information from people on the ground, these are mainly made up of members and supporters of the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’; their reports always implicating the government and army in every crime.* What is particularly irritating is that the Guardian knows this, having actually included Abdulrahman in an article titled The Syrian Opposition: Who’s Doing the Talking? (which I recommend having a look at). This piece from July 2012 says of him:

That name, the “Syrian Observatory of Human Rights”, sound so grand, so unimpeachable, objective. And yet when Abdulrahman and his “Britain-based NGO” (AFP/NOW Lebanon) are the sole source for so many news stories about such an important subject, it would seem reasonable to submit this body to a little more scrutiny than it’s had to date.

However since then – like every other agency – the Guardian has conveniently forgotten to apply these standards again. Having been jailed three times for opposition-related political activities back in Syria, Abdulrahman fled to the UK in 2000. He has previously stated:

“I came to Britain the day Hafez al-Assad died, and I’ll return when Bashar al-Assad goes.”

That this one-man observatory is working alongside the Syrian opposition and UK government, whilst also providing the media with a profoundly biased narrative to shape their war-mongering agenda, is laughable at best, but at worst is a shocking willingness to deceive both the British public and the suffering Syrian people.

Funnily enough, this latest story of an ISIS air force appeared just as Turkey has been calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone as part of their terms for joining the anti-ISIS coalition (backed by France), despite – until now – the group not possessing any planes. Apparently two of the jets have just been shot down by the Syrian Arab Army, so the purpose of any future no-fly zone will be blindingly clear to anyone who has been paying attention.

Sources:

*In Cynthia McKinney’s The Illegal War on Libya

Islamic State training pilots to fly MiG fighter planes, says monitoring group
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/17/islamic-state-training-pilots-mig-planes-syria

Coventry – an unlikely home to prominent Syria activist
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/12/08/uk-britain-syria-idUKTRE7B71XG20111208

The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking

West’s Syrian Narrative Based on “Guy in British Apartment”
http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/wests-syrian-narrative-based-on-guy-in.html

What is Hand in Hand for Syria Hiding?

BRITAIN-SYRIA-CONFLICT-DEMO

 

Dr Declan Hayes from the University of Southampton has conducted a detailed investigation of the UK charity Hand in Hand for Syria; the results of which are most disconcerting. These findings suggest that the charity – granted a great deal of promotion by the BBC –  is actually a front organisation for Syrian rebel group the Free Syrian Army; meaning that money donated to the charity is likely going straight into the hands of these extremists to enable their activities, and funding hospitals and medical supplies which are primarily used to treat injured rebel fighters. The main body of Dr Hayes’ report can be read below, whilst the remainder can be viewed here.

 

Dr Declan Hayes: Hand in Glove

Re: Hand in Hand for Syria? (Registered Charity 1145862)
Please find the attached document outlining my concerns about the above-named charity and why I believe it warrants an urgent investigation by the police, by the Charity Commission, by the media and by relevant elected officials which all have a duty of care to ensure bogus charities are not allowed operate for either base mercenary or politically- motivated reasons. My main concerns may be summarised as follows:

  •  Hand in Hand for Syria is very politically partisan. It is an active, if somewhat clandestine supporter of the armed Syrian opposition and is therefore, at the very least, in breach of the Charity Commission code.
  •  Hand in Hand for Syria, superficial claims to the contrary notwithstanding, is financially and organisationally very opaque. This is not only unacceptable on financial probity grounds but adds to the suspicion that Hand in Hand for Syria and groups allied to it are effectively financial and propaganda tools for the armed Syrian opposition.
  •  Hand in Hand for Syria have engaged in a number of very dubious high-profile media coups, most notably in Saving Syria’s Children, the widely criticised BBC Panorama show. If the complaints against Hand in Hand for Syria are sustained, they bring the BBC and other media outlets that have collaborated with them into disrepute.
  •  Hand in Hand for Syria have the active support of a relatively large number of medical professionals working for the NHS. If the complaints against Hand in Hand for Syria are sustained, they bring the NHS and all its staff into disrepute.
  •  Hand in Hand for Syria have been primarily funded by a notorious Saudi extremist who is now banned from entering Switzerland and Britain. That being so, a full investigation is needed to ascertain if Hand in Hand for Syria are merely well- funded and well-organised “innocents abroad” or if there is a more sinister under- current to them.

Hand in Hand for Syria have a number of trustees, who have expressed their support for extremist actions and extremist organisations in Syria and countries contiguous to it. That being so, a full investigation is needed to ascertain if such support is the real raison d’être of Hand in Hand for Syria. If you want further information or to speak to me about any of the material contained here, please contact me at the following email address londonhayes@gmail.com or on my mobile phone +447942440165. Although I can be reached at the university address and at my university email, I would prefer you used the contacts conduits given here.
Dr Declan Hayes
d.hayes@soton.ac.uk dated: 23/7/2014

Who is Hand in Hand for Syria Hand in Hand with? (Registered Charity 1145862)

I wish to draw to your attention my serious concerns with the above-named charity and their apparent links to Syrian extremists. Specifically, I believe this group, contrary to their role as a charity registered with the Charity Commission, has raised money and made fraudulent propaganda for their political aims of helping the armed Syrian rebel extremists achieve power rather than the humanitarian aims they purport to work for and for which the Charity Commission licenced them.

Although I base my beliefs on the well-documented controversies surrounding their media involvement and the apparent governance and financial contradictions and anomalies in their fund-raising activities, most of what follows will concentrate on reconciling the financial and media claims they make with what is known of the Hand in Hand for Syria organisation and the people behind it.

Despite its penchant for publicity and the relatively large number of NHS-related medical professional supporting it, Hand in Hand for Syria is not a transparent organisation. Not only are much of its media activities dubious in the extreme but the fact, claims to the contrary aside, it is so financially opaque sits uneasily with the amount of NHS medics it has supporting it. One would expect if not demand these medics and other professionals colluding with it would appreciate the importance of having a transparent money trail. Because no such transparent money trail seems to exist and the sympathies of its leading lights are so clearly aligned with those of the Syrian rebel extremists, Hand in Hand for Syria warrants an investigation into it by the police, by the Charity Commission, by the media and by relevant elected officials which all have a duty of care to ensure bogus charities are not allowed operate for either base mercenary or politically-motivated reasons. If any of Hand in Hand for Syria’s principals knowingly engaged in fraudulent, dishonest or unethical behaviour, the forces of law and order and the appropriate professional bodies must take the severest punitive action against them.

Hand in Hand for Syria’s Main Objective

The leaders of Hand in Hand for Syria have a political objective and their propaganda and actions are conducted to serve that objective. As the rest of this document will show, its key leaders have long supported the armed Syrian opposition and most, if not all, of their activities are in areas controlled by those extremists. That makes them, in effect, collaborators of the armed Syrian opposition.

Where Does Hand in Hand for Syria Primarily Operate?

Their website claims here http://www.handinhandforsyria.org.uk/: “We take medical and humanitarian aid into 90% of the country, using our unique and extensive networks on the ground in Syria. We also implement aid funded by, and on behalf of, some of the world’s biggest aid agencies, who are unable to get into Syria themselves”.

This is untrue. They do not work in 90% of Syria and they have no demonstrable established links with major aid agencies, who would demand a well-established audited money trail before working with them on any meaningful level. If the situation is as they claim, they should name “the world’s biggest aid agencies” which work with them both for transparency and for their own credibility.

Their http://www.handinhandforsyria.org.uk/ website makes plain they are busy collecting funds to use in the “90% of Syria” they claim to operate in. However, as they do not and cannot operate in any of the areas controlled by the Syrian government, the claim they operate in “90% of Syria” is very clearly wrong, if not deliberately misleading. The Syrian authorities would not allow any such organisation with their sympathies operate in areas they control and the Syrian government controls far more than 10% of Syria.

Contrary to their claims of impartiality, the Hand in Hand for Syria charity operates only in the areas controlled by ISIS and the other Syrian rebels and their appeals, such as their current ones for their flag-ship hospital at Atareb, are primarily to send aid to those operatives in those areas. Although their logo, which originally had the flag of the Syrian rebels embedded in it, indicates that they are politically partisan, many of their leading members have umbilical links with the leaders of the Syrian rebel militias. Because there is absolutely no way these people, given their allegiances, their track record and their blanket displays of rebel logos, would be allowed to operate in government-held areas, there is a very black cloud over them and their financial and other claims.

Here http://tinyurl.com/rolax2 Hand in Hand for Syria claim: “Neither the Syrian government nor the Free Syrian Army (or other opposition groups) constrain our activity, which means we can work across borders and behind front lines. Therefore, we deliver aid to both opposition-held and government-held areas, including besieged areas whenever possible. And since we don’t work through third parties, we can monitor everything directly to ensure our aid reaches the right people, and those who need it most”.

This is patently untrue and, as we shall see in the following paragraph, Hand in Hand for Syria admit as much. The Syrian government would not and do not allow a group with such obvious political links to rebel extremists to operate in their areas. Were Hand in Hand for Syria operating in government-controlled areas, the Syrian authorities could tell where precisely they are operating and how they are supplying the centres they operate from. However, as there is no way Hand in Hand for Syria could run and supply any medical facilities on the government side of the lines without the cooperation of the Syrian authorities, grave doubts have to be cast not only on Hand in Hand for Syria’s claims to be non-partisan and to operate in 90% of Syria but on all of their other claims as well.

In answer to the charge than Hand in Hand for Syria only operate in rebel-controlled areas, Mr al-Dairi, one of their (three only) trustees listed with the Charity Commission, claims here http://tinyurl.com/Fadix1 that “[In the government-controlled areas] you wouldn’t see Hand in Hand’s name; you would see a normal name. We have two schools and a hospital, but these do not look like they are associated with Hand in Hand, they would look entirely normal. This is to protect the people on the ground and the people who attend. We do it totally differently in the government-controlled areas. In these areas we would do it in normal vehicles: small saloon cars or normal cars. In opposition held areas we can travel openly, whereas in government-controlled areas, you cannot fill a car with more than two food baskets – two is the maximum. Anyone seen with a lot of aid is targeted, it is a criminal offence.”

Mr al-Dairi goes on to explain: “Due to the enormous risk that the volunteers and workers from Hand in Hand run when they deliver aid into the government-controlled areas of the country, the charity has suffered tragic losses in personnel. We have lost 15 of our staff in Syria over the last two and a half years, which is why we are so security-conscious. We believe that they were captured and then killed – tortured to death. We do a lot of work inside Syria, but we don’t talk about it because nothing is safe”.

So, although Hand in Hand for Syria has suffered 15 fatalities for some unexplained reason in government-controlled areas where they continue to operate a token supply of aid, in addition to the two schools and a hospital they claim to have there, this and the fact “we don’t talk about it” does not seem credible for a number of reasons. Given the relative tokenism of the aid to government-controlled areas, it is not worth the risk. As for the two schools and hospital, there is no way, Mr al-Dairi’s bizarre claims to the contrary, they could exist or function without the Syrian government knowing about them. Because Mr al- Dairi does not address the question as to why they can be so (seemingly relatively) open and transparent in the rebel-controlled areas but so underhand and tokenistic in the government-controlled areas, the inference must be that they are primarily supporters of the Syrian rebels. This view is strengthened by examining their key players and they key projects.

Hand in Hand for Syria’s Guiding Lights

Hand in Hand for Syria’s website was first registered with Whois here: http://tinyurl.com/HIHR1 only as recently as 12 April 2012 and it is registered until 12 April 2015. It is registered to Marwan Ghannam, 67 Yoxall Road, Solihull, B90 3RP. Marwan’s phone number is given in a fund-raising poster here: http://tinyurl.com/HHand8. These links http://tinyurl.com/HIHR2 and http://tinyurl.com/HHand2 indicate he is very involved in the local Islamic Centre and has taught Islamic courses in the USA and Syria; he has also been mentioned here http://tinyurl.com/HHand3 in a BBC account of outreach programmes in London. Interestingly, given the lack of audited accounts to date, he is a chartered accountant by profession. Interesting, as this link http://tinyurl.com/HHand1 on their webpage states, Razan Zehrawi, one of Hand in Hand for Syria’s trustees, whose background is decorative arts, is in charge of their banking, rather than Marwan Ghannam, who, as a qualified chartered accountant, is much more competent to fulfil that role. Given his relevant training, one would a priori expect Mr Ghannam rather than Ms Zehrawi to be in charge of the accounts but that is not the case.

Hand in Hand for Syria should explain why this is not the case. Ms Zehrawi is pictured with her daughter here http://tinyurl.com/HHand4 at a Hand in Hand for Syria fund-raising event. Her contact details, including phone numbers and address are here: http://tinyurl.com/HHand5 Her address is given in this newspaper report http://tinyurl.com/HHand6 As this link http://tinyurl.com/HHand7 indicates there is a Razan Zehrawi Sahloul living nearby, it is possible she is related to Faddy Sahloul, the chairperson of the Hand in Hand for Syria group. This link gives the same address that Razan Zehrawi uses for Faddy Sahloul. http://tinyurl.com/homex1 it also lists him as directors of two separate companies, both with similar names (Global Fresh Produce and Ideal Fresh Produce) and both of which have since been dissolved. Both Faddy and Razan Sahloul are also listed here http://tinyurl.com/finestx1 as former directors of Finest Fresh Produce Ltd company, which also included Vicki Steward as a director. This link http://tinyurl.com/finestx2 tells us that “Vikki Steward …has resigned from 199 companies and held 9 appointments at 9 dissolved companies”. Faddy’s extended family are reputably big players in the transfer of currencies to the world’s more exotic locations; much of this grey market is reputedly controlled by Zuhair Sahloul: http://tinyurl.com/sahloul1 and http://tinyurl.com/sahloul2

Hand in Hand for Syria’s website claims here http://www.handinhandforsyria.org.uk/about- us/ : “We don’t ask questions. We bring aid to anyone who needs it, regardless of their politics or religion. We are humanitarian in the full sense of the word”. Although the blood- curdling sympathies of Mr Faddy Sahloul, their trustee, would suggest not all of them are “humanitarian in the full sense of the word”, their clear and constant political pro-rebel stance is a breach of the Charity Commission’s guidelines.

As this Skynews report on one of their doctors killed in Syria shows http://tinyurl.com/HIHTrustee one such trustee (unlisted with the Charity Commission) is Dr Mahmoud al Akraa who led a mob that disrupted a peaceful and inclusive meeting in London. Details of that meeting, where they heckled children and hurled abuse at them, are here: http://tinyurl.com/HIHTrustee2. His Facebook page shows here http://tinyurl.com/HIHTrustee3 he and Dr Rola Alkurdi Hallam are friends. As this link http://tinyurl.com/trusteexx1 shows, Dr Mahmoud al Akraa also shares platforms with disgraced and discredited provocateur Danny Abdel Dayyem; more to the point perhaps, Dr al Akraa claims that the Syrian government forces will summarily and sadistically torture and then kill any Syrian seen to have been getting medical aid from non-approved sources which, if true, would have to call into the question Hand in Hand for Syria’s clearly suicidal policy, as enunciated by his fellow trustee, Mr al-Dairi, of running token medical services in government-controlled Syria. Equally importantly, at 2:43 into the video, he expresses his delight that “the Muslim Brotherhood is coming back” to Syria. Hand in Hand for Syria should explain whether or not they support the Muslim Brotherhood, the Syrian National Council and the various rebel extremist groups they have been associated with. They should also clearly state what, if any, disciplinary action they intend to take against Dr al Akraa as well as the blood-thirsty Mr Sahloul.

This link http://tinyurl.com/rola1 points out that Dr Rola Hallam, who is at the centre of the Hand in Hand for Syria movement, is the daughter of Dr. Mousa al Kurdi, a leading apologist for Syrian extremist militias, who has been involved at the highest levels with the rebels. Dr Rola was one of the signatories and organisers of the 16 September 2013 letter to The Lancet, signed by a large number of medics, many globally prominent, asking that they be allowed to work unhindered in Syria. Given that all of them, Dr Rola included, declared “that we have no conflicts of interest”, Dr Rola should clarify whether that is, in fact, the case. Dr Rola should, in other words, explain whether her 16 September 2013 declaration is true that she has no conflict of interest or whether her real sympathies and those of Hand in Hand for Syria, like their actions, are partisan. To aid her in that process, further information on her dubious links and more evidence showing Panorama’s apparent fake reporting can be had here http://tinyurl.com/rolaw1

 

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besthihlogo-faddy-sahloul-fb-page1Figures 1 and 2: Pro-rebel screenshots of the Facebook page of Faddy Salhoul. More screenshots are in Appendix 1. The actual photo is one of a very large number of staged photos rebel extremists in Kafranbel flood the Internet with.

Until early July 2014, the Facebook banner of Faddy Salhoul, Hand in Hand for Syria’s co- founder and chairman, read “We will bring Assad to justice, no matter what lives it takes, no matter how much catastrophe it makes”. This blood lust contradicts Hand in Hand for Syria’s declared purpose (on the Charity Commission website) of “the advancement of health or saving lives” even though it sits four-square with the aims of the Syrian rebel extremists. As can be seen from the screenshots, his Facebook page also prominently displays Hand in Hand for Syria’s original pro-rebel logo. Hand in Hand for Syria should declare whether or not they and their leaders support the Kafranbel rebel extremists. If they do, the Charity Commission should take the appropriate action; if they do not, they should dispense with the services of Mr Sahloul and have his services professionally audited for fear of bringing Hand in Hand for Syria into disrepute.

Hand in Hand People: Mohammad bin Abdul Rahman Al Arefe

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Figure 3: Mohammad Al-Arefe, the extremist Saudi preacher, speaks at a Hand in Hand for Syria event (where the rebel emblem can clearly be seen on their logo).

Hand in Hand has for Syria has other extremist links as shown here: http://tinyurl.com/HIHfounder and http://tinyurl.com/HIHfounder2 where extremist Saudi Salafist preacher Mohammad bin Abdul Rahman Al Arefe is photographed speaking at a Hand in Hand for Syria function and, worryingly, is named as its primary financier. Al- Arefe, who holds the position of Imam of the Mosque of the King Fahd Academy of the Saudi Navy, is banned from entering Switzerland due to his extreme sectarian views. Following the airing of video footage depicting young British ISIS jihadists he helped radicalise urging their compatriots to follow them to Syria, the Home Office belatedly banned al Arefe from Britain too after it was revealed he preached at the al-Manar Centre the young jihadists attended.

As this report in the Independent http://tinyurl.com/HHclaims2 states, Al-Arefe supports the concept of jihad in Syria “in every possible way” He has in the past accused Shias of being responsible for kidnapping, cooking and skinning children before placing their remains outside the family home for their parents to find, and he recently called for Muslim women to travel to Syria to perform sex jihad. Al-Arefe is a disciple of the late Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baz who, as Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from 1993 until his death in 1999 was an ardent supporter of Osama bin Ladin.

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Figure 4: Mohammad Al-Arefe is honoured at a major jihadist fund-raising event. The above photo was retrieved from this link http://tinyurl.com/arefex2 which discusses Al- Nusra’s structure. The photo is from a jihadist fund-raising meeting and Arefe is portrayed as one of their key fund-raisers.

The similarity between this jihadist “hand in hand” logo and that of Hand in Hand for Syria is not accidental as they are both based on the original rebels’ emblem, explained in this BBC report http://tinyurl.com/arefeq where the founding statement of the Free Syrian Army states they “work hand in hand with the people to achieve freedom and dignity, topple the regime, protect the revolution and the country’s resources and stand up to the irresponsible military machine which is protecting the regime.” Hand in Hand for Syria, it seems is hand in hand with some very unsavoury characters.

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Figures 5a (Free Syrian Army Flag), 5b (Hand in Hand for Syria logo), 5c. (Flag of the Syrian Arab Republic). It is apparent that the emblem of Hand in Hand for Syria (5b), is modelled on the flag of the Free Syrian Army and is therefore aligned to those Mr Al-Arefe used in Cairo. Not only do both Hand in Hand for Syria and Mr Al-Arefe, their extremist benefactor, use the flag of the Free Syrian Army as their prototype but they both used clasped hands alluded to in the founding document of the Free Syrian Army.