Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs

The Infamous Nasief Barakat: Swindler and Human Trafficker

Special Reports | 2018-04-22 20:53:35
The Infamous Nasief Barakat: Swindler and Human Trafficker
   Nasief Barakt

By Ethar Abdul Haq

(Zaman Al Wasl)- A few hours after Washington added his name to the list of criminal organization, “Nasief Barakt” has instantly become a very talked-about figure within a wide segment of the Syrian people. “Zaman al-Wasl” was able to collect some vital documented data supported by documents on Barakat.

The US Department of Treasury’s OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) categorized “Barakat” and his group under as a “cross-border criminal organization” in light of their involvement in facilitating the smuggling of hundreds of individuals to the US for an average sum of 20,000 per person.

Accordingly, dealing with “Barakat” and his group might result in harsh punishments that vary from fines that amount to $300,000, or double the dealt sum of money (no matter how much it was), to criminal sentences and fines that might amount to 20-year prison sentences and a fine of 1 million dollars for anyone who violates OFAC’s orders in this regard.

This categorization has led many Syrian to ask about the identity of “Nasief Barakat” and the nature of his involvement in human trafficking-related activities to other countries (including the US), as “Barakat” relies mainly on forged documents. “Zaman al-Wasl” tries to provide satisfying answers using the exclusive data and documents the newspaper possesses.

A Merchant with an official license

Firstly, we should shed light on Barakat’s personal information. Nasief Barakat son of Jarjas and Na’iema
 Mkhawel Ibied. He was born in al-Fhiela, Homs suburbs, in 1971. The Department of Treasury has listed “al-Fhiela”as one of Barakat’s aliases in a confusing oversight. We have yet to find out why the American authorities made this mistake.

“Nasief” is married to “S” (we refrain from mentioning her name). They have three children, the oldest of which is “Tarif” who is still a teenager. “Nasief” is the youngest of six brothers. One of his brothers had died in the fall of 2016.
Known as “Abu Tarif”, “Barakat” has a vast criminal record. His data suggest that he was involved in forging documents and securing forged documents and seals for people to use it to travel. This data is listed in his criminal record between 2005 and 2007 in particular.
Additionally, Nasief has been wanted by the Syrian intelligence’s Political Security since 2003, but he is still a free man walking and moving freely between areas under the Syrian regime’s sight with no arrest warrants issued against him. 
Maybe all of this might seem normal when compared to his “investing” activities that he used as a way to launder the money he gained from his actual “investments”, namely human trafficking and forging travel-related documents.
“Zaman al-Wasl” sources suggest that “Barakat” owns a huge project (a crops and animal farm), as well as a licensed gas station (al-Sari) located on the main road in his hometown, al-Fhiela, in addition to a premium apartment.

“Barakat” visits al-Fhiea periodically (he lives in Damascus) to check on his business, mostly using his KIA-branded, grey-colored car (we have the plate number).

The documents acquired by “Zaman al-Wasl” reveals that Barakat, who has been convicted multiple times, is a member in Homs Chamber of Commerce and has been for years, like any other businessman or merchant, according to membership certificate no. 6334 which has been signed and sealed by the head of Homs Chamber of Commerce “Abdul Nasser al-Sheikh Fattouh”.

Nasief has also a commercial register numbered 51828, the order for which was signed by commercial registrar in Homs, Walid Younes Saleh.

One of the documents we have acquired is a license order for “al-Sari” gas station, signed by Homs governor, Talal al-Brazi. Al-Brazi based his approval on a number of official letters, including a memorandum from the Internal Control in Homs, and a permit issued by the municipal council of al Fhiela, in addition to a session held by the executive office of Homs governorate.

Investing in Hell

Based on the aforementioned information, and other data that should be revealed in time, a question is raised by “Zaman al-Wasl” who wonders about the secret of how an individual who has been convicted of a number of human trafficking and forging crimes is now a businessman and an investor who even was granted a membership in an official chamber of commerce without raising any red flags or any suspicion over money laundering activities. 

Another important question to ask is how all of the arrest warrants against “Barakat” has been suspended even though they were issued by the Syrian regime’s intelligence apparatus years ago, and how a man like “Barakat” can invest hundreds of millions of Syrian pounds without anyone to poke in his criminal history and the source of his funds.

The answer, undoubtedly, refers us to a (fairly-known) secret among Syrians: “Nasief Barakat” is merely a front for more influential and powerful groups, or, at the very least, bribes them with large sums of money, just like thousands of regime-sanctioned merchants and businessmen despite the regime’s full knowledge of their historical records and the suspicions over the legitimacy of their funds and properties.

Finally, highly informed sources have confirmed to “Zamal al-Wasl” that “Barakat” is indeed involved in smuggling Syrians to different European countries, in addition to Canada, Australia, and the US. He promotes his activities by allowing the people that deal with him to pay him after arrival, in addition to other incentives related to travel such as facilitating travel and reducing the amount of land travel (by cars or trains) as much as possible with primarily using airplanes. This proves that “Barakat” is part of a major network that has influences and leverage in many countries that allows the people he smuggle to pass all checks and screenings at airports and on all documents and ID’s.

The US accused “Barakat” of smuggling hundreds of individuals to American soil. It is, then, not inconceivable to expect that he had smuggled hundreds, or maybe thousand, others to Europe. Australia, Canada, and other countries by investing into the hell that Bashar Assad has brought upon Syrians, leaving them an easy pretty for human traffickers and forgers such as “Barakat” so they, along the regime, can seize immeasurable gains.

Note: The Department of Treasury has posted a picture of “Nasief Barakat” along with the sanction documents. The picture was cut from a picture of him and his wife, as “Zaman al-Wasl” has the original picture, as well as a never-before published picture of him.

Zaman Al Wasl- Ethar Abdul Haq
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