FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Save Syria Now! applauds effort to break Assad regime’s strangle hold on Syrians around the world
PHOENIX (October 19, 2011) – Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser of Save Syria Now! issued the following statement regarding the arraignment Tuesday, October, 18, 2011 of Mohamad Soueid of Leesburg, VA who is accused of spying on Syrian expatriates in the U.S. on behalf of the regime of President Bashar Assad:
“The arrest of Mohamad Soueid for spying on Syrian expatriates publicly validates what Syrian-Americans have been living with for years. The regime of Bashar Assad has employed agents around the world as part of their expansive diplomatic network and covertly as part of the “Syrian-expatriate” network who are explicitly tasked with reporting to Damascus any and all activities of Syrians who live abroad.
Yet, despite the wisdom of the indictment, the U.S. Magistrate Judge T. Rawles Jones bizarrely commented that “”There is no evidence that he is a trained operative.” He oddly ignored the fact that Syrian Intelligence used the information that Soueid collected and transmitted to them to identify and torture family members of Syrian-Americans who are still imprisoned behind the borders of Assad’s Syria. Rawles comments and subsequent decision to release Soueid demonstrate a profound lack of understanding of the threat that Syrian intelligence poses to Syrian Americans and their families inside Syria.
Similarly, comments from Soueid’s attorney Haytham Faraj, as reported by AP, “that it’s ludicrous to think that Soueid’s alleged activities, which consisted primarily of videotaping and recording anti-Assad protests in the U.S., would be of any value to Syrian intelligence,” plays Americans for fools. It is common knowledge among Syrians that Syrian intelligence (Mukhabarrat) are ever-present within American Syrian communities and attempt to penetrate every family possible in collecting information on Syrians abroad and domestically . Willing agents of the Syrian regime have been conducting these types of operations for decades on our soil and globally. And a video that is focused on the faces of the protestors put together with an operative who collects personal information such as family names, timings, groupings, and cliques, can do significantly more harm than a random YouTube video of even the same event.
Any comments against the interests of the Assad regime by any Syrians around the world have long been a threat to close or even distant family members inside of Syria. The regime has exacted reprisals including imprisonment and torture simply as a result of a vocal family member in the U.S. or outside of Syria. This has created a global culture of fear within the Syrian expatriate community. Regimes like Assad’s know full well of the impact which any global, especially an American policy to isolate his government can have upon his longevity.
As we have seen with the Arab Spring, more Syrian Americans have gained the courage to step out from behind this curtain of tyranny and confront the brutalization that is taking place in their homeland. That has brought cases like Mohamad Soueid’s out of the shadows and into the public eye. But these cases need competent jurists who understand what is at stake.
Unfortunately Mohamad Soueid is just one of many. In May, Save Syria Now! highlighted a similar threat that exists in Orange County, California from the Honorary Syrian Consul General Hazem Chahabi. The son of Hafez Assad’s long time Syrian Army Chief of Staff, Hikmat Chehabi, Hazem Chahabi is also an American citizen whose loyalties are divided as an honorary general consul for the rogue nation of Syria. Chahabi has close connections to the Assad regime and was accused by other Syrian Americans in California of having staff from the consulate video record protests in Southern California. Chahabi’s connections to the Assad regime and his efforts on US soil since April are frightening, but nothing has been done to hold him account for those actions.
The reality is that the US has foreign agents working on our soil to intimidate and control Syrian American opposition as a battlefront in their ongoing massacre against the Syrian people. Those that escaped Syria know all too well that the ruthlessness of an evil regime like Assad’s can be overwhelming and paralyzing to all free speech.
The arrest of Mohamad Soueid was an important first step by our government to help Syrian Americans step past that fear and do all that we can to help the brave protesters in the streets of Syria. But if we are unable to hold these people to account, because a judge does not understand the complexities of the threat, the Syrian people are in grave danger.
The United States must continue this effort by demanding that Syria remove all of its agents and diplomats from our shores and by finding and prosecuting anyone who engages in efforts to squelch the free speech of Syrian Americans through fear and intimidation.”
About Save Syria Now!
Save Syria Now! is a group of Americans of Syrian descent organizing to put pressure on the United States to call for immediate action to be taken against the regime of Bashar Assad of Syria and to bring true liberty to the people of Syria. We stand with the Syrians protesting in the streets to end the tyranny of the Assad family. For more information please visit our website at http://www.savesyrianow.org/.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Gregg Edgar
Gordon C. James Public Relations