Jadaliyya features the guidance of an anonymous activist, with an introduction --- "We cannot speak for him. We can only admire him" --- and these definitions:
dulab (tire): “hanging the (detainee) from a suspended tire and beating him/her with sticks, clubs, cables or whips”;
falqa: Beating the soles of the feet;
bisat ar-rih (flying carpet): Strapping the victim to a piece of wood shaped like a human body and either beating him or her or applying electric shocks all over the body. The description of Bisat Ar-Rih provided in the text makes it look more like a hybrid with al-kursi al-almani (the German Chair). This method described in the 1980s consists of “a metal chair with moving parts to which the (detainee) is tied by the hands and feet. The backrest of the chair bends backwards, causing acute hyperextension of the spine and severe pressure on the detainee’s neck and limbs. The author describes a device that is used to create pressure on the spine and neck accompanied with the beating all over the body.
FEAR OF ARREST
A lot of our friends are becoming paranoid and afraid of the reach of the hands of Al-Mukhabarat.
They constantly feel as if the Mukhabarat [state security] is waiting behind the door, under the bed, or about to hack into their Facebook accounts. They have four fictitious accounts, six pseudonyms and they only participate in demonstrations when it is a safe thing. Like some kind of aristocrats! Why do they do all that? Because they do not want to get arrested. Really?! If that is the case, then you can kiss this revolution goodbye. And so we will write what could happen to you if you get arrested, and what you need to know to prepare yourself. I pray god to inspire me to write all that correctly.
OK, here we go in the name of God we start:
Arrest is never as scary an experience as many might suspect. Arrest is a medal that you will wear on your chest, and one whose stories you will tell to your children.
Arrest is a mixture of a strange, unknown, honorable and incredible experience. The more diverse the circumstances of your arrest, the more extended your stay, and the more people you meet, the richer and more exciting your experience will be . This is why it is important that you do not forget to write your account as soon as you are out.
When you get caught the unknown will terrify you. But be reassured. The most difficult part has already passed --- these are the moments of arrest and the first beating. Try in moments of calm to regain your self-confidence and to raise your own morale, and to enjoy while you are receiving this honor -- because there isn’t much time left until this regime will fall, and you may not get another round.
In prison try to adapt to every thing except to the humiliation and to the blasphemies that you will hear. Pray --- no matter in what position --- and try to keep your relationship to God strong --- spirtuality will be very high when your soul is completely bare.
And so we begin:
First of all you may be arrested from home or during a demonstration.
They will confiscate a lot of things and they will search the house really thoroughly. If you have any suspicious items like spray paint, leaflets, pepper spray, hide them in the roof or in the basement or anywhere else.
They will confiscate the computer, your laptop and mobile phone, your camera, passport, ID card etc. Relax! Everything will be returned. They will not take anything for good. Seriously, I am not kidding.
If you are caught from home this means that one of your freinds or acquaintances has been caught before you, and had to give your address under torture.
Or it is possible that your excellency did not use the well known safety measures when using the internet or your mobile.
What I have seen during my arrest, which lasted for one month, and after mingling with many people who were interrogated by different interrogators, is that the interrogators are completely out of touch when it comes not only to Facebook but the whole internet, if not computers also.
But the interrogator will tell you: Now the “engineer” or the “specialist” will come. This one will also be a donkey but from a different breed :) they will call him only to scare you.
The engineer or the specialist: he is most probably a high school graduate and may understnad a little, he may be a graduate of a technical school or an employee in telecommunication. Perconally I did not think he understood anything like an engineer would.
The specialist asked me once for passwords....Unfortunately I did store them once in a file that I deleted, but with file recovery, the file was dicovered and I was not able to hide anything.
You can take them for a ride as you feel like it, especially if you felt that the reason for the arrest has nothing to do with the net or hacking; this means that they have no clue what accounts you have.
Incidently, my passwords were with the “specialist” and he was unable to enter my account and he brought me many times thinking that I was fooling him --- so this is how tech-savvy they are.
It would be a good idea that you give the password for your ficticious facebook account to one of the guys that come with you to the demonstrations or to your brother so that when you get arrested he will immidiately access facebook and clean the account completely.
The inspection of your account on facebook will take time; I imagine it could be a coulple of days. During that time they will interrogate you orally -- and whatever scenes horrible to the regime you have published, it will not change much for them; perhaps the guys are getting used to it by now.
Example: Before the revolution, I made a video for publication and I deleted it because it was not well done. They recovered the file and landed in the hands of the interrogator, and I refused to confess about this film --- not heroically --- but because I did effectively forget about it. The interrogator brought me and brought a laptop and played the scene and it was horrible with direct speech against Hafez and Bashar (and note that it was before the revolution). I thought that they would skin me, but at the end nothing really came out of it :) only the regular beating like every day and then “drag this dog to the cell.”
The important thing, and we return to the “specialist”, he will take the laptop, the mobile, and the camera (if confiscated) and he will inspect for any materials that might be of interest to them.
Erase all Islamic, struggle, and revolutionary chants, and all the private pictures of your family because the Mukhabarat are just scounderls. Erase or change all the suspicious names of your freinds, such as Abu Qoutada, Abu Obada, Abu Al Q’aq’a that is any name that sounds Islmaic, or names that refer to “revolution” and any derivative word.
Inspect your pictures to verify that they do not contain anything that might draw their attention, such as the picture of a street or a neighborhood.
Do not keep anything that has to do with the revolution, whether it is a demonstration a caricature, a song, a slogan, etc.
Do not forget to delete the call log after every call. Although, if they take the trouble they can get the call log, and messages log from the Makhlouf company. In any case, do what you have to do and erase.
Concerning messages, erase whatever might be used against you. In any case, if messaging ever happens between the revolutionaries, it get erased on the spot.
Your mobile now should be clean. Correct? No! Wrong!
Because it is very easy to retrieve data from the memory card. Therefore, and in order to get your peace of mind with respect to the camera and the mobile, change the memory card. Hide the old one in a hole in the ground, or under some tree, even on the surface of Mars. Do this even if the memory card has nothing about the revolution. You really do not want these scoundrels to see the pictures of your family.
I did address the camera. The issue will be solved with the memory card.
The Computer or the Laptop
They can recover data. Try to format and fragment your drives to make sure that the data are truly erased. Set your internet browser NOT to keep browsing history or cookies. In all cases, use Chrome Google’s invisible browser to get some peace of mind.
Facebook and Passwords
The specialist will ask you about passwords. If you are a university student, he would not buy that you do not have an account, especially if you were caught through Facebook or if a friend of yours was caught before you and he talked.
Maintain two accounts: One normal and peaceful as if the revolution is taking place in Mozambique. When asked you will confess that you have a Facebook account and show this account to them. It would have your real freinds and you log in everyday to chat normally. The second account is where you do all the real work under a pseudonym without any personal information. Of course none of this is any news to you.
On your normal account use an ambiguous profile picture, like the picture of the flag with blood on it, or expressions of grief, etc. But do not exaggerate, you do not need to put the picture of a frog.
After all this time, they have probably accumulated some expertise in Facebook, and these tricks will not get past them. Here a fundamental question presents itself: What information can I hide, and what information would I have to divulge under pressure by hook or by crook?
”The Golden Rule”
You can keep to yourself and hold on very strongly to every information bit that no one other than you knows, or information that only you and another person impossible for them to reach know. Never divulge that information easily. And so where is the problem? The problem is that if you get arrested from your house, you would not know how they got to you. Did they get to you through Facebook? A snitch? One of your freinds was caught before you, etc.? Here you have to use your ingenuity to deduce how they got to you from the interrogations.
Example: The smart-ass interrogator asked me once about one of my old friends. This old friend and I both knew another friend with whom I did some coordination before the revolution. I concluded from this question that this common friend was caught before me, and he was the one that spoke about my old friend. And so I managed to figure out how they got to me and I behaved on that basis.
From the Street
If you get arrested from the street, you will receive a bad beating at the moment of arrest. In all honesty, I do not know how they will treat you when you are first taken to the security branch. If they have arrested you from the house, they will tell your family that it is a matter of a half-hour, some questions and answers, or mere verification.
When you arrive to the security branch, they will start talking nicely to you (like what happened to me) a man-to-man conversation. They will make you feel safe and secure. Be careful! Do not be fooled and become enthusiastic to give them everything you have. In a short while, they will start the real interrogations and they will pick it up from where you stopped.
Every time they take you from the prison cell to the interrogation, the prison guard (i.e., a security private) accompanying you will speak to you. He will whisper in your ears with the voice of the merciful, compassionate, and advising father: “Confess my son! I swear you will feel relieved. Listen to me! Everyone brought to this branch, ended up forced to say everything. Save us the efforts and do not make yourself go through the torture.
Do not listen to him. He is a blabeler. When you are out pretend that you trust his words, that all the time you have understood the rule, that you want to be freed from the beating and that you want to tell about everything.
The first whip on the sole of your foot will shock you --- it is unbelievably painful --- you will feel soft and think that you will inevitably confess to everything. This is wrong. Guys! Everything is a matter of habit. The first strike only has the greatest effect, the rest is whatever. A lot of people endured the first strike, and they did not utter any unecessary words. Read Mustafa Khaliefa’s novel the “Shell” to make your heart for sure stronger.
After a period in detention, especially if there was repeated torture (like what happened to me), you will enter the Dulab almost with a smile on your face, and the whole matter becomes a farce. And so whatever information that they can only get to because you talked, keep to yourself. For everything else, it is up to your ingenuity.
Do not listen to them if they try use your family to blackmail you--no matter how much they curse, no matter how much they threaten. They have stopped using this method, except in very rare circumstances.
If you get caught in the street, you can try to bribe the security operative with a thousand pounds to escape, like one of the guys once told us. Other than that do not waste your money. Once you are in the security branch, this will have no effect.
If you get caught in the street, try to play dumb and deny any relationship with the group. In the worst case, you can try to claim that you saw people marching so you followed the crowd. Remember that the one who organizes the demonstration will have a bonus treatment, so try to play dumb.
In general, the following is certain, all those arrested who spent considerable time in detention did learn one thing: They stopped fearing them. They turned out to be not as smart as we imagined. In addition, they are dead afraid, clueless, and are barely able to keep-up. In mid- March, when I was arrested, we were in the car heading to the security branch. The security private told his friend. "I’ll pay 500 SYP [Syria Pounds] just for one hour of sleep!! This was four months ago, when Syria was still asleep.
When the interrogator demands the name of your friends and you were forced to speak, start with those who are already well known, i.e., the probablity that they will get caught is already high whether you mention their names or not. Try to stay clear of collectivities and groups, and continue to maintain that you got enthusiastic to participate simply because you saw the rest of the guys marching.
Do not give up names of people who belong to different groups (university, neighborhood, Facebook). If the chain of arrests start rolling, it will go then in different directions and you end up implicating too many people. Keep in your mind one group of friends and every time you are forced to leak a name you pick one from the same group. After all every group is limited in numbers and the matter would never expand like an arthimatic sequence.
When it comes to the beating and the torture, it is important that you have to know how they are done (!) and to get the idea--the element of surprise is half of the terror.
Beating and Torture
It ranges from 1) a slap on the face or a kick; 2) dulab (tire); 3) electricity; 4) bisat al-reeh (flying carpet).
The slap on the face, the kick, and the butt--these are a form of pampering. In other words, don’t get sad; to the contrary you should be happy that it was over with these.
The dulab is the first stop in the interrogation. Usually, before they start the interrogation, they will treat you to a “show of muscles” round. In terms of duration this first round will be 1) the longest after which you are out from between their hands “well done”; 2) he will tell you that this was just a joke, we haven’t even started. 3) He is lying. Do not let him win the psychological war.
The positioning of the dulab is a type of falqa, and it varies depending on what materials they use (rubber), a tank’s belt, an electric cable, a regular belt, or a bamboo stick.
Thank god I did not get to try electricity. They may use the old instrument with the two positive and negative poles, or the Iranian electric sticks--shame on them. They may use electric sticks to make noises and to threaten you. But its sound is louder than its effects.
Bisat al-reeh is used in Damascus when they want to force the detainees to confess to false charges. They did it for instance with M. I., the lawyer, when they forced him to confess that he received millions from Saudi Arabia to distribute leaflets. Bisat al-reeh consists of a wooden board on which the body of the detainee is spread. The board is then bent upward causing excruciating pain in his back, not to mention the side dish of beatings.
I am just bringing up the most terrifying piece. But do not be afriad! The most they will probably use is the dulab, this if they chose to use it.
Another thing that I should mention, to avoid any surprises after the arrest. When they took me from and back to the prison cell, my hands were tied behind my back and my eyes were covered with tammasha (or tummesheh) to prevent me from seeing anyone or anything. The interrogator will shout, and you will be surrounded by more than one. The dulab could be accompanied by someone stepping on your head or some forms of humiliation, including cursing and blasphamies. There are mere sound effects. They are worth a nickel. In any case, all the slaps on the face, the kicks and the fists, no matter how sensitive the areas they target, will not hurt as your adernalin is too high. The Falqa however is a little painful. I pray god for your endurance. The swelling of the feet will vanish in two days.
Why did you get so terrified?! I swear it is not worth it. Consider it like atonement for your past sins, and a way to rise to a greater position with God. After a little while, we will be treated to a falqa without making a sound, and we considered the ones who screamed too soft. We were with two young men from Douma, 17 years of age in the eleventh grade. They were beaten so hard, that beasts cannot stand it. But I swear they did not scream or open their lips. It was surprising. They looked too innocent and childish and not anything macho. They made us ashamed, and from that day we did not complain. So, stay strong and remember everything is for God and for Syria. In God’s will --- no one will be arrested. But, and seriously, if anyone gets arrested, they ought to enjoy it.