Mother Jones has published an in-depth look at a 718-page document supposedly leaked from intelligence forces inside the Bashar al Assad's regime that they're calling the "Syria hit list." It contains the names and identifying information of countless anti-Assad activists throughout Syria, including but not limited to birthdays, family members, favorite hang-out spots, and home towns. Based on our close read of both the Mother Jones article and this (very small) redacted sampling of the full document, the list appears to be both legit and somewhat frightening. MJ editorial fellow Hamed Aleaziz spoke to three separate experts to verify the document's authenticity. Here's what each of them said:
- "This is what a secret service does … [The details in the document are] the kind of thing that people get whacked for all the time, or at least tortured for." —Joshua Landis, a scholar on Syria who's consulted for the State Department
- "This kind of info on this scale cannot be available to the general public, or faked." —Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies
- "The way it's organized looks similar to other documents I've seen.… It organizes people in such a way that it would allow the security services to be able to track them down." —Andrew Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Aleaziz adds, however, that "it's conceivable that the document involves deception by the Syrian regime or counterintelligence operations by its adversaries; the United States, Israel, and other Western powers are known to have run sophisticated covert operations against Syria and Iran for many years."