Syria’s cannibal rebel defends himself

Richard Hall

Much has been written this past week about a Syrian rebel named Khalid al-Hamad, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Sakkar, and who gained notoriety after a video emerged of him appearing to eat part of a dead pro-government fighter’s lung.

“I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog ….” he shouted into the camera, before taking a bite of the fallen soldier’s flesh.

His actions drew condemnation from human rights organisations and from others fighting to remove Bashar al-Assad from power.

Abu Sakkar has spent the past few days defending himself, explaining in an interview with TIME magazine that his macabre stunt was a reaction to the brutality of the Assad regime, and that he had found video footage on the deceased man’s mobile phone that showed him abusing and raping women.

“You are not seeing what we are seeing, and you are not living what we are living. Where are my brothers, my friends, the girls of my neighbourhood who were raped?” he told the magazine.

While this man’s heinous crimes make a very strong argument for ignoring him altogether, his story is an interesting one. The Independent’s Kim Sengupta wrote a very thoughtful piece this week on Abu Sakkar’s journey from a fighter in a relatively moderate brigade to a cannibal radical. His is an extreme version of a familiar story: the conflict in Syria, which has so far taken more than 80,000 lives, is radicalising an entire population.

The ever-useful Brown Moses blog has today come across another video from Abu Sakkar, who makes very much the same point in another attempt at a defence of his actions.

The video is – rather strangely – very well produced; complete with moody camera angles and long shots. In it, Abu Sakkar addresses the media, and offers a warning: the longer the war goes on, the more people will become radicalised like him.

“My message to the world is if the bloodshed in Syria doesn’t stop, all of Syria will become like Abu Sakkar.”

A translation of the video appears on the Brown Moses blog. (The blog, incidentally, is an invaluable source of information for Syria watchers. Eliot Higgins, the man behind it, is currently running a funding campaign to keep it going, which you can donate to here )

The exchange, posted below, takes the form of a Q&A with Abu Sakkar.

He is praying at first. Making supplications for different things (health, people, etc). From the outskirts of Homs we have Abu Sukkar:

Q: Do you have regret for what you have done, killing the Assad’s shabeeh (militant)and mutilating his body?

Abu Sakkar: I am of one of the people of Syria, and the people of Syria are a part of the world. I am willing to face trial for my actions if Bashar and his thugs stand trial for their atrocities. My Message to the world, IF the blood in Syria doesn’t stop, all of Syria will become like me.

Q: What motivated you to mutilate the shabeeh’s body?

Abu Sakkar: Their cell phones contain videos showing how they raped women, killed kids, burned the bodies, cut off a man’s arm while alive, tortured another man then slaughtering him. Every free Syrian won’t b able to control himself while watching these atrocities.

Q: Will you stop fighting after the outrage at your last video?

Abu Sakkar: I will fight to the death, Victory or Death.

Twitter: @_RichardHall

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  • prof37day

    Such people are friends of our ‘dear leaders’.
    Once when they finish their job in Muslim countries, they will do the same acts in our countries.

  • Irfan Haqqee

    Such people have always been friends of our “dear leaders”. From Kaddafi to Saddam to Noriega to Pinochet to Marcos to those Saudi Kings To Ziaul Haq, not to exclude Bin Laden – they all have been or still are friends of Western Governments especially USA.

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