A 718-page digital document obtained by Mother Jones contains names, phone numbers, neighborhoods, and alleged activities of thousands of dissidents apparently targeted by the Syrian government. Three experts asked separately by Mother Jones to examine the document – essentially a massive spreadsheet, whose contents are in Arabic – say they believe that it is authentic. As Bashar Al-Assad's military continues a deadly crackdown on dissent inside the country, the list appears to confirm in explicit detail the scale of the regime's domestic surveillance and its methodical efforts to destroy widespread opposition.
The article speculates about how the list is being used, but doesn't really know. But it doesn't take much imagination to speculate. The Syrian mukhabarat has long been used to torture and kill anti-regime activists, and the regime has also used the family members of activists living abroad as leverage against them.
The cases of more than 30 Syrian activists living in eight countries in Europe and North and South America – Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA – who say they have faced intimidation from embassy officials and others apparently because of their activities in solidarity with the pro-reform movement in Syria. Many have been filmed and orally intimidated while taking part in protests outside Syrian embassies, while some have been threatened, including with death threats, or physically attacked by individuals believed to be connected to the Syrian regime. Some of the activists have told Amnesty International that relatives living in Syria have been visited and questioned by the security forces about their activities abroad and, in several cases, have been detained and even tortured as an apparent consequence.
The death toll is mounting from the shelling campaign in Homs and other cities. The odds are that quieter arrests and disappearances of regime opponents also continue.