A Syria hit list? A list of regime enemies emerges.

News organization Mother Jones has gotten hold of a massive spreadsheet containing names and contacts for thousands of Syrian dissidents.

News organization Mother Jones has gotten hold of a massive spreadsheet that may be a hit list compiled by the Syrian regime. Hamid Aleaziz writes:

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.

Amnesty International wrote in a report last year that it had documented:

The cases of more than 30 Syrian activists living in eight countries in Europe and North and South AmericaCanada, 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.

Follow Dan Murphy on Twitter.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.