A growing refrain out of Syria is that widespread rape is taking place—and sanctioned by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

But when WhoWhatWhy examined the allegations, it found that well-intentioned women’s groups trying to document and prevent such abuses may be falling victim to a deliberate disinformation campaign intent on rallying public support for toppling Assad.

If so, this would not be the first time false or exaggerated allegations involving women or children were used to generate public anger and build support for military action. This is a particularly effective and cynical approach—in part because it appeals to the very constituencies most resistant to war and its toll: women and human rights advocates.

While rape is horrifically common throughout the world, and more so in conflict zones, so, too, are “psychological operations” intended to shape perceptions and outcomes. Many regimes, particularly authoritarian and totalitarian ones, lie routinely to their people, but as the purported exemplars of high standards of truthfulness and accountability, the United States, Britain and their allies are expected to uphold those values.

Fomenting public outrage is hardly a new thing. Hitler used it to rally the German people. But it is not just genocidal maniacs abroad who manipulate public sentiment. Widespread opposition to US entry into World War I was overcome through an extensive range of propaganda efforts, including untrue stories of German soldiers bayoneting babies. Ironically and tragically, when credible indications of the Nazi death camps arrived in the United States, the government did nothing, the media punted, and the public, in part because of prior untruths, remained skeptical.

During the first Gulf War, a Kuwaiti princess appearing in the guise of an ordinary, anonymous eyewitness, appeared before Congress and told false stories of Iraqi soldiers killing newborn babies by taking them out of incubators. These stories, concocted by a publicity firm tied to the George H.W. Bush administration, were cited by senators supporting an invasion of Iraq. In 2011, we were told that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had “ordered” mass rape.

In the Iraqi case, more people heard the original charges than the later corrections. In the Libyan case, the media simply reported the original allegations but failed to report that no corroboration had ever emerged. The allegations simply vanished.

The Allegations

Because we had written early and often about rape allegations in Libya, we wondered if similar claims might surface in Syria as well. We did not have to wait long to find out. In the summer of 2011, one of the first claims came from Oliver North of Iran-Contra Scandal fame, in a syndicated column that provided no support for the assertion that:

In Syria, Bashar Assad’s violently repressive regime continues a vicious campaign of rape, plunder and murder orchestrated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in an effort to retain control over the Syrian people.

A UN report on human rights violations in Syria last fall repeated several witnesses’ claims that security officials had warned them their female relatives would be raped if they did not cooperate. It also cited several allegations that men were anally raped with batons and boys raped by security officials. Given the police baton rape of Rodney King in Los Angeles as well as the conviction of Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for repeated acts of “deviant forcible sexual intercourse” with minor males, and a related coverup by the university, as well as human rights group reports on the frequency of prison rape in the United States—to say nothing of within the US military—Americans well know that such acts can take place anywhere. But because the Assad regime is notably cruel and corrupt does not in itself tell us that Assad would see a campaign of sexual terror as useful when he is already struggling to maintain public support.

The UN report, interestingly, made no mention of widespread organized rape of women.

Nonetheless, an organized, calculated, Syrian government rape operation was portrayed recently in numerous news outlets, including The Atlantic. Here’s how the US-based international news website Global Post headlined it:

New project charts rape in Syria

A new project tracks reports of sexualized violence in Syria, where attacks are usually carried out by regime forces.

Of particular interest is the subheadline, saying that sexual attacks are “usually carried out by regime forces.”

In the case of Libya, wide coverage of similar allegations was quickly followed by a growing Western chorus for the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi. But once Qaddafi had been ousted by a huge international military effort, we no longer heard a peep about those allegations—nor saw proof that they were accurate. And now, with Syria an urgent priority and Western countries struggling to overcome Russian and Chinese opposition to intervention, the echo is loud indeed.

Rape allegations represent a separate and powerful appeal to emotion, distinct from charges of massacres. The Western media also carried unverified accounts of Qaddafi’s forces committing massacres of unarmed civilians that were never borne out and seldom publicly corrected. Meanwhile, more recent allegations that rebel Libyan forces—rather than Qaddafi’s—had committed massacres have not been investigated by the new Libyan authorities, who, after all, represent the victorious rebels.

Recently, as we noted here and here, early reports suggesting that Syria’s Assad and his force were solely or principally responsible for massacres of men, women and children have been negated by partial retractions—though anecdotal evidence suggests that many more heard and still believe the original claims than the subsequent cautionary reports.

Recently, defectors, a growing tool in the propaganda arsenal, have been cited warning that Assad has and will use chemical weapons—again, a story famously and falsely utilized to build support for intervention in Iraq. For its part, the Syrian regime, well aware that it is losing the war of words and of how this could be used to justify another NATO bombing campaign as in Libya, has taken the atypical step of publicly promising that its chemical weapons stores are secure and will not be used against the insurgents or Syrian civilians. It has, however, just announced that it would consider itself entitled to use it against foreign invaders—a clear warning that it expects but hopes to discourage NATO from doing what it did to Qaddafi.

A Story Fit For the Tabloids

The new rape allegations have a particular, horribly evil story line, beyond the magnitude of “normal” awfulness.

The GlobalPost story contained this sickening account:

A Syrian girl remembers being kidnapped and kept in an apartment with other young girls. Each day, people in charge of the units would inject the girls’ thighs with an unknown substance, leaving them paralyzed. With the girls unable to move, they were then raped by security forces. In one instance, the girl recounted a soldier burning her genitals with a hot iron. The horrific story is one of many now recorded and posted online by Women Under Siege, an initiative by the Women’s Media Center.

Could all this be true?

Having not heard of Women Under Siege, we at WhoWhatWhy decided to check out the organization, contact it, and seek more details.

At the group’s website, we read this:

A note uploaded to a personal Facebook page written by an engineer describes multiple instances of rape as gathered by a Syrian expatriate and her husband who traveled to Jordan to meet with rape survivors. The couple said they met with the women in two apartments being rented by Saudi individuals to serve as shelters for rape victims.

The couple said they spoke to 17-year-old girl who was raped and kidnapped when her family’s home was searched. The girl was subsequently “moved from one apartment to another for 15 days. Every apartment was guarded and had a woman responsible for five to 10 girls in the apartment. Every day, the girls were injected with a substance in their thighs, after which they became unable to move, and the shabiha [plainclothes militia forces] would rape them.”

During one rape, the girl told the couple, she was tied, undressed, and her genitals, including the inside of her vagina, were burned with a hot iron. She said she passed out and awoke later at a Syrian detention center in Damascus known as the Palestine Security Branch.

Upon her release, she escaped to Jordan, where she has since undergone “multiple reconstructive surgeries,” she said. She is reportedly suffering lasting effects from the unidentified substance that was injected into her thighs, including visible injection sites and a blood disorder.

This is the URL of the Facebook report: https://www.facebook.com/notes/hadi-al-bahra/بوح-من-واقعٍ-مُر-الاغتصاب-هل-هو-واقع-ام-حرب-اعلامية-و-نفسية/10150943043755606. Other cases from this Facebook note appear here: https://womenundersiegesyria.crowdmap.com/reports/view/58  and here: https://womenundersiegesyria.crowdmap.com/reports/view/60 .

When we went to the facebook page cited, we found it was from a man named Hadi Al Bahra. Al Bahra’s personal facebook page shows that he is a male, from Damascus, Syria— but is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al Bahra is the General Director of Saudia Online, a portal for all things Saudi.  Saudi Arabia, a country with its own abominable record on treatment of women and human rights generally, is a leading advocate for military intervention to overthrow Assad.

More on Al Bahra here: He was born in Syria, and migrated to the US at 18, decades ago.

We contacted Mr. Al Bahra by email, seeking to interview him, but he did not respond.


Beyond that very vague “report” from Saudi Arabia, we know nothing. We don’t know who the “Syrian expatriate” and her husband are. We have no way of knowing that they exist, and if they do, that they actually told Al Bahra the story posted on the Women Under Siege website. Even if they did, we don’t know that they are telling the truth. Even if they are, we don’t know that whoever told them that story was telling them the truth. And even if everyone is telling the truth, it still doesn’t mean that Bashar Assad is behind a campaign of deliberate sexual brutalization—or that such claims should be the basis for massive foreign military power to effect regime change in Syria.

Just a caveat, always needed in such articles: Assad is a brutal dictator, as exist throughout the world—and he and his family have been behaving brutally for decades. There is no particular evidence that his regime is demonstrably more vicious than it has ever been, excepting for his use of his military to suppress a foreign-backed domestic uprising at all costs. Any fair comparison would have to take into account the amount of firepower, the fatalities and casualties incurred by Western military campaigns in places ranging from Vietnam to Iraq.

There also is no history of the United States and its allies insisting that other brutal, authoritarian (but allied) regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen and the Gulf States also abdicate.

It Gets Worse

Here is another report from the Women Under Siege website:

Doctor tells of 2,000 women being treated in Damascus for rape

Dr. Malaz Alatassi, a founder and board member of the Syrian Sunrise Foundation, a nonprofit humanitarian aid organization based in the U.S., testified at the European Parliament on April 23, 2012, about atrocities in Syria.

Alatassi reports that he has spoken with a female physician in Damascus who says she is treating some of the 2,000 girls and women raped throughout Syria who have come to Damascus seeking support. The youngest was a 7-year-old girl who died on the operating room table, he said. Many women are pregnant and/or have tested HIV-positive, according to Alatassi. There is not enough medical, psychological, or social support to treat the women’s needs, he said, adding that many have lost husbands or parents.

WhoWhatWhy looked into the nonprofit humanitarian aid organization founded by Dr. Alatassi, the Syrian Sunrise Foundation. You can find the articles of incorporation of the Foundation here. It was incorporated in Delaware—a low-disclosure state more typically favored by for-profits than non-profits.

The incorporator of the foundation was Asim Ghafoor of Sterling, Virginia. Ghafoor has been in the news in the past. He was political director of the now-defunct Islamic Free Market Foundation, cofounded by Grover Norquist, the influential GOP operative. Ghafoor, an attorney, was a partner in a consulting firm that advertised good connections with US Homeland Security (and for a time had a Redskins game skybox for rubbing elbows with bigwigs), though he also represented various charitable entities that were investigated for alleged terrorist ties.

We emailed and later spoke with Alatassi. We asked him if he could put us in touch with the Syrian doctor cited in his report. He said that he would pass along our request for a Skype conversation. We did not hear back from the doctor or Alatassi.

YouTube’s Astonishing Policy Influence

Women Under Siege, sponsored by The Women’s Media Center, is a US-based nonprofit founded in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem.

In an interview, Gloria Feldt, a former president of Planned Parenthood and a member of the Women’s Media Center’s board of directors, said it was her understanding that the Syria project was an indirect outgrowth of conversations between Steinem and the author of a book about sexualized violence in the Holocaust. She said Steinem was struck by how “sexualized violence had gotten no recognition as one of tools of repression and genocide.” Apparently, with Syria the current top story about war, the organization thought it would be an ideal place to document the role of sexual violence there. (Steinem herself was on a writer’s retreat and, according to her office, unavailable for comment.)

Seeking to establish where Women Under Siege gets its Syria information, we contacted Lauren Wolfe, the young journalist running it. She referred us to Karestan Koenen, a Columbia University epidemiologist who has taken the lead on the information collection. Koenen herself was a victim of a brutal rape—not in Syria, but as a volunteer for the US Peace Corps in Niger. She is one of several women who came forward to reveal that the Corps sought to suppress the story of how its own employees were victims while working in largely friendly countries. (President Obama has signed legislation to provide additional protections.)

We spoke to Koenen while she was attending a conference in Brussels. Koenen made clear that the group’s information is almost entirely second- or third or fourth-hand and largely comes from unverified web postings. “The overall goal of the project is to map in real time alleged sexual assaults in Syria,” she said. “The reports we have thus far are mostly identified through researchers and activists who do systematic searches of the web—Google, YouTube, etc. Most results are from that. Some are from human rights groups, some from journalists.” Koenen noted that a very few of the allegations have been emailed to them from individuals claiming direct knowledge.

She readily conceded that there is no way to know who is taking the time and effort to create such web postings. Presumably it is not victims themselves. And she agreed that such claims should be treated with caution. She did, however, note that it is difficult to obtain accurate, documented information in real time, and that waiting until the conflict is over is also not a viable option.

As for the trends from the inputs, Koenen says, “In the vast majority of reports we’ve received—about 70 percent, the perpetrators are government forces. The fact we haven’t received so many reports about the [opposition] Free Syrian army doesn’t mean they haven’t committed rapes. We have gotten a few.”

Koenen told us that Wolfe was imminently due to speak about rape in Syria on a panel at the United Nations, shortly before the Security Council was to take yet another vote on whether to dramatically increase sanctions against Assad.

Because of Russian and Chinese objections, the Security Council did not approve those sanctions. But the United States and its allies made clear they intend to go forward with toppling Assad, and do not need UN acquiescence. As the New York Times noted:

“We’re looking at the controlled demolition of the Assad regime,” said Andrew J. Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Source: Lieberman and McCain?

One of the early and leading claimants for mass rape in Syria is Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a member of the Armed Services Committee and a strong supporter of US military interventions in Iraq and Libya. He, along with his friend John McCain, has been in the forefront of pushing for US military participation in support of the uprising against Assad.

By his own account, though, he is often skeptical of the value of inquiries. He by statement or action backed away from inquiries into Hurricane Katrina malfeasance and refused to investigate the murders of civilians by Blackwater in Iraq.

And as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Lieberman declared: “We like to do legislation,” Lieberman said. “We don’t like investigating … just to see who is at fault.”

Far fewer people who are reading the headlines about Assad being behind mass rapes are likely to read this caveat on the Women Under Siege site:

The thing is, rape is nearly impossible to confirm. …


When documenting rape, as in anything, you have to evaluate your source: Is this coming directly from the woman who was violated? From her cousin? Her cousin’s friend? In the case of Syria, many stories are coming from that cousin’s friend. Or from the cousin’s friend who “heard about” a friend of his brother’s sister…etc. Right now, Syria is a convoluted black hole of second- and third-hand reporting that few conflict zones can rival in recent history.

The sources reporting rape directly to our crowdmap or via news outlets vary: Fathers speak out for their daughters, doctors for their patients, and, perhaps most surprisingly, many of our reports are sourced from former Syrian army soldiers admitting (forcibly? We can’t know) the crimes they have committed. It’s a sinkhole of fact-checking. But, for the sake of our humanity, we believe we have to mark all of this down and try.

This is why we’ve chosen to post all our reports on WomenUnderSiegeSyria.crowdmap.com as “unverified.”

In our interview, Women Under Siege’s Koenen noted: “We have no evidence there are orders [by Assad] to do this.  It seems to be widespread, in over a dozen locations, but at this point I wouldn’t be able to say.” And, asked about whether there is something unique about what is alleged in Syria that would make this a special case for military intervention, including a probable bombing campaign and all that entails, she said: “We don’t have a sense whether sexual violence is more common in this conflict than in others.”

For more on rape as a worldwide problem (including the fact that eighteen percent of women in the United States have been victims of rape or attempted rape), see this.

Finally, in order to advance the public interest, WhoWhatWhy makes this offer:  We are a small nonprofit with limited editorial resources. But if someone of substantial means (though no agenda) will step forward to fund it, WhoWhatWhy will put a team in-country in Syria and try to establish whether the headlines accurately portray what is going on. We promise to report, fairly, whatever we find.

# #

[box]WhoWhatWhy plans to continue doing this kind of groundbreaking original reporting. You can count on it. But can we count on you? We cannot do our work without your support.

Please click here to donate; it’s tax deductible. And it packs a punch.[/box]


Correction: As first posted, this article erroneously stated that Women Under Siege had first been alerted to Syrian rape allegations by Joe Lieberman. The current version contains the corrected text.


GRAPHIC: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/uiH9Je9O5JY/0.jpg

0 responses to “War, Syrian Style? Has Assad Ordered Mass Rapes?”

  1. Rocky Racoon says:

    These wars are keeping oil at 100 dollars a barrel or more. Our society is organized around serving the interests of production and it’s owners it is not designed to care for those who have to sell their labour power in exchange for a wage. Even the small business owner gets screwed as he has to exploit his own labour stuck in a contradictory class location but even here franchises like MacD’s or it’s imitator’s or the Wall Marts of the world are killing the middle class. As Living Labour is expelled from production due to mechanization an individual firm may beat out the next guy eg Apple vs Samsung but at the macro level the profit pie shrinks as only the exploitation of living labour produces profit or surplus capital machines cannot be exploited value is a social relation. So we have to change these social relations and eliminate class divided society its the same old struggle folks and as Warren Buffet says his side is winning the class war. Every dollar given to Big Business is a dollar used AGAINST the common man and that dollar originated out of his own labour. Steve Jobs didn’t become fabulously wealthy due to his genius he got wealthy off of exploited Chinese labour. Now they want us all to be serfs with the few capitalist at the top as the new global aristocracy. Production and reproduction must become public utilities there for everyone to use to best ability, scarcity is a myth. We produced ourselves right out of business as capitalism shoots itself in the foot. It has long passed it’s usefulness on the world stage and we are regressing not progressing. Capitalism has to go. Socialist Democracy or Capitalist Barbarism and Thermonuclear extinction that is our future. What is it going to be?

  2. InnerCynic says:

    Same tired old stories as we’ve heard out of Kuwait, Iraq, Libya and NOW Syria.

  3. Hind Abyad says:

    Sickening pathetic Zio propaganda !
    I don’t have to read the whole article..not stupid.
    Remove it as you wish.

    This below, is what you’re funding; slaughters of Christians.
    Syria was the only country in the Middle East, were all of the different sects lived in peace before Aipac commanded the US
    to destroy it.

  4. Snead Hearn says:

    Plain propaganda lies. Just like the WWI stories of German soldiers raping nuns, killing babies, etc.

  5. rtj1211 says:

    I think the first thing to say is that if you look at most wars, you find rape is found to a chilling degree. The Balkans a notable one. It happens. My take is that when men cross a certain stress threshold, which happens in war for many, they lose peacetime morals and values and just become an animal in survival mode. They see women as part of the plunder for surviving, even if survival was for a week.

    I don’t think it takes the orders of a President to find soldiers raping in war, even civilian men. It’s part of societal breakdown.

    I’d be interested to know if any detailed studies are out there on that but what I have read over the years suggests that it is a rare war where rape doesn’t increase markedly.

  6. Logan5 says:

    None of the propoganda can be believed. All I know is this – those that are trying to topple the Syrian government are tied in with Al Qaeda. The United States has never been attacked to my knoweldge by Shiites. It is the Sauid Wahabi form of Islam that poses the threat to the world. What if Assad is toppled by the likes of the monster who cut out a piece of a dead Syrian soldier’s heart on television and ate it while prasising Allah? Every Christian, every non-Wahabi fanatic will surely have their throats slit. Didn’t we learn from Afghanistan?????

  7. Man on the street says:

    Facts can be so clear and easy to understand, but if the MAIN STREAM MEDIA REFUSES to tell Americans these facts, the “sheeple” will never discover the obvious.

    Fact one, Syria is secular with modern women dressing and behaving as opposed to the neanderthal Islamist JIHADI rebels/mercenaries, who hate and subjugate women. So, if there is any rape in Syria, it is more likely from fanatic Islamists. Some imam in Qatar about a year ago was ALLOWING a man to have sex with his dead wife as a halal! The so called women organizations in the West are simply liberal organizations first and foremost. Liberals do not condemn Islamists because they are “tolerant” of all religions, even if one particular religion ENSLAVE WOMEN? The rape of Southern Sudanese Christians went on for twenty years without a word from our main stream media.

  8. notakhan says:

    Well we know who really IS calling for rape in Syria:

  9. Reichsmarschall McGoering says:

    Well at least Bashar’s guys are not throwing babies out of incubators! We’d have to launch an invasion if that were the case, right? I mean..’cmon!

  10. VERONICA says:

    Yada, yada. WHEN we follow the money, whose pocket? _ _ _
    And judging from experience, i see it a bit differently. Bottom line is why are so many men so f**kin terrified by their own vulnerability that they are driven, compelled, compulsively perpetrating all the mean, destructive, controlling, selfish, greedy crap? Of those who don’t fit this,…. Only those with the fortitude not to spin or sidestep, need respond.

  11. Davidski says:

    As always the first casualty in any conflict is the truth as is evident in this story.


    VOICES OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE’s VOWW-TV caught this story at the UN headquarters by a young woman who witnessed the 30years ago massacres of the father, where the son is ordering mass rapes of women, young girls and children known as Syria’s Torture Machine Ruler http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5woHr1vw9Q&feature=share&list=UUf8NRUgNH1nbhZcBAFb7LeA

    • Hind Abyad says:

      I Middle East we know about the Atrocities, i can’t understand how is that no journalist has a drop of humanity to inform their western public.

      Even today Us government talks about “every atrocity Assad will commit” because of the anti War.
      Are politicians Monsters?

  13. USAinLEB says:

    …Nor can Lebanese it seems. Proximity to conflict is no guarantee of substantiality either. In May, my flatmates and I were taking precautionary cover in our hallway as nine hours of sustained clashes (involving countless grenade explosions) between the Lebanese army and unknown/unidentified individual/s ensued behind our apartment building. Local media has never confirmed what happened, nor could anyone in the neighborhood, and everyone seems to have forgotten by now. Throughout the evening and coming days we were told several things. Initially, it was a lone assailant shooting at an army outpost, who was drunk and upset over a lover’s spat with a prostitute (or something equally Springer-esque). As time went on the story progressed to one or two members of a terrorist group (but the prostitute was still in there somewhere). Yet another word on the “street” was those “one or two” guys were an entire Al-Qaeda sleeper cell of nearly 13 or more members, while media insisted we were all kept awake by two jerks who may or may not have been affiliated with terrorists who just happened to be sitting on a couple caseloads of grenades. I walk past that building where the clash took place EVERYDAY, including the day after. I couldn’t tell you what happened, and its not likely anyone else can except those involved in clashes. Rumors abound in this part of the world…

  14. USAinLEB says:

    I live in Lebanon, and naturally know many Syrians. Even if you had a team inside you aren’t likely to get much farther. Most Syrians I know can’t pick fact from rumor at this point.

    • Hind Abyad says:

      Agnes Mariam, mother Superior of the Monastery Saint James the Martyr, in Kara, Homs, was begging the world for help since 2011. Christians raped and killed churches looted and burned by “Who Knows Who” except the Saudis and their Western Allies. Surely Lebanese Politicians knew and said nothing. POLITICS! I grew up in Lebanon.
      She was in Voltaire a French paper, France never gave a damn, she was on the Internet, anybody can see her on Youtub, and many other videos on the Christians of Syria. Please don’t you call that “rumors”.

    • Rocky Racoon says:

      Exactly, google Operation Gladio and how NATO terrorists would send in snipers and then blame the communists who where growing quite powerful in Italy. Gramsci’s theory of hegemony is quite appropriate in today’s world of perception management which they call NEWS in the WEST.

  15. Sheilarsnyder1412 says:

    On reading this article, I kind of got a sense of the usual suspects and the usual motives.  Here we have Saudis making claims of knowledge of these rapes on websites and then disappearing before anybody can really question them.  We have the warmongering Lieberman and McCain trying to drumbeat for war.  We have the oily US billionaires with their desires to own every single Middle East country possible.  I don’t know whether the Syrian people are mistreated or if it is a religious genocide or what it really is over there, but I know who is fomenting it for their own personal profits, as usual.  And our military which includes my 21-year-old nephew could become cannon fodder in the name of those profits.  This is sickening.  How much blood do these oil people want on their hands to get their profits?

  16. jxrxc says:

    Also, the US backed 2011 Muslim Brotherhood revolutions were more of the same. They also cleanse Christians from all those countries as another objective. RELIGION is a big part of it all since that is who is running the west.

  17. jxrxc says:

    Very well you try and figure out the REAL motives for this and other wars. However, it looks like they ALL have the same motive – relocating Islam into the west. This is what we see has happened since as far back as the USSR-Afghan War (1979-89) followed by the US-Iraq Gulf War I (1990) and 10 years of sanctions and no-fly zone, then GW II &  US-Afghan War – all destabilizing the region to cause mass-emigration of Islam. This has led to the Eurabia phenomina. All western nations have seen an increase in numbers of Islam coming in. This will change those nations. Obama with his Muslim background was put in office for this reason.

  18. wakeup999 says:

    If we are worried about mass rape… then maybe the USA should launch an attack on the Vatican.

  19. josephzrnchik says:

    Always the same nonsense.  Assad is battling for his peoples’ lives and they expect us to believe he said, “Alright, I need everyone to go out and start raping people.  Don’t worry about tactics, operations, or strategy, just go out and rape and we will win this war.  Now go get your issue of Viagra and move out!”

    • Richard-roper says:

      As someone has tried to explain rape of female captives by wahabist Jihadists is a LEGAL, I repeat LEGAL requirement of Jihad  as the way of enslaving them.  This is why it turns up in every area of the world they are involved.

      So what an amazing coincidence rape stories by those they are attacking always come from American sources.  Especially as said wahabistfighters are in their employ.

    • Enzo Gorlami says:

      What idiocy! What about rapes in other part of the world that have nothing to do with Muslims?! It’s nothing to do with ‘Jihadist” or ‘wahabist.’ Your rhetoric is childish at best

    • Aaron Aarons says:

      Please provide documentation for this assertion.

    • Hind Abyad says:

      Jihadists take women and girls sex slave War prizes. When you see videos of “rebels” accusing Assad of atrocities and chanting Alahuakbar, they are not Syrians, No Syrian say that..

  20. Abby says:

    In Bahrain, various doctors and nurses were threatened with rape by our friendly government. Are we as a nation going to do any thing about it or are we going to conveniently ignore it?

  21. MARKY7773 says:


    • Russ Baker says:

       Marky, please STOP TYPING IN ALL CAPS. It is much easier to read when you don’t do that. Thanks.

  22. Mark Crispin Miller says:

    We also heard the same thing about Iraq before the Gulf War in 1991.

    It an old propaganda story, dating back to the Allied drive against “the Hun” in 1915. The Rape of Kuwait, a inflammatory paperback that suddenly  appeared all over the US in 1990, including tales of mass rape by Saddam’s goons, was directly based on “the rape of Belgium,” which narrative was inescapable throughout the British and US press back then.

    The problem is that this shit really works.

  23. Waster says:

    This report propagates this toxic sludge world wide almost instantly. I heard it on ABC Radio National (Australia) during the week. Its ‘findings’ are reported as ‘fact’ with the message being that the Assad govt forces are the main perpetrators – all very handy for those who want to win the hearts & minds that will justify their trashing of a country & its people under the guise of ‘right to protect’ It is also a good coathanger by which the organisation can call for donations. See: 

  24. rws450 says:

    Thanks for taking up this issue.  The Libya rape allegations (woman running into hotel lobby where Western journalists are hanging out) did not pass the sniff test.  I will be passing on your excellent article and anticipate (with depression) hearing Amy Goodman talking about rapes by Assad forces in the coming days.

  25. antoinepgrew says:

    Mr. Baker,

    Re, this: “Just a caveat, always needed in such articles: Assad is a brutal dictator”

    Suggest you throw this on. It’s Flynt Leverett, Seymour Hersh, and James Bennett, with Martin Indyk as moderator, discussing Syria, albeit in 2005. But the background and history are important.

    The term “brutal dictator” is thrown around as much these days as specious charges of rape. When talking or writing about nations we know nothing about but that the US wants to change, “brutal dictator” has the caste in the US media of an apologia lest the speaker/writer be deemed insufficiently American. I am not accusing you of this but everyone except Blair, Merkel, Harper, and Sarkozy since the arrival of Bush Jr. has been a brutal dictator. Including Putin.

  26. ts_3000 says:

    I wonder when the Western media will accuse Syria of having, shipping container loads of Viagra and handing them out to their troops?

    Here’s an exceptional take on the Western media angle.


  27. Bob_in_Portland says:

    Not mentioned in your story is Gloria Steinem’s history with the CIA. She did a lot of world traveling much the way that the CIA sent (sends) out “students” to see the world, to include her visit to India. At the end of the Eisenhower Administration she worked in a CIA propaganda mill at International Youth Festivals and admitted as much in the New York Times in 1967. She was squired by Henry Kissinger while lots of reactionary events were happening in Latin America. There have been stories about the financing of Ms. Magazine through Clay Felker and others. 

    As an area of investigation you may want to look more closely into Steinem’s background.


      This is interesting news on Gloria … who just had a flower named after her … VOICES OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE

    • Reichsmarschall McGoering says:

      so true- most people don’t know her background.

  28. Rollo says:

    It is so refreshing to come here for news and analysis. I feel that I can’t entirely trust Western media. And media like RT is certainly biased as well, which just leaves me greatly confused. But when a real journalist asks critical questions like this, and explains what we know, what we don’t know, and why; it is truly empowering. Thank you. My donation will be coming soon.

Subscribe to the Daily WhoWhatWhy

Relevant, in-depth journalism delivered to you.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.