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Assad intelligence 'so pragmatic' with religious community: document

 By Ethar Abdulhaq

(Zaman al-Wasl)- An intelligence document obtained by Zaman al-Wasl has shed further light on how the Syrian regime is monitoring religious movements and clergy where all their activities are under scrutiny and control.

The intelligence document, dated February 2007, presented the proceedings of a regular meeting that included high-ranking officers from Branch 271 (Military Intelligence - Idlib Branch), led by Brig. Gen Ahmed Fares and his deputy, Brig Gen Nofal Al-Hussein.

The political, military and security issues were reviewed but the religious issue had taken the lion's share of the meeting.

They have discussed all issues related to Islamic movements,  classifications and orientations, as well the activities of Christian clerics were on the table.

According to the document, all religious movement were subject to scrutiny, with an emphasis on the need to monitor Friday sermons, Quran memorization centers, as well as any jihadist or religious tendencies.

Among the recommendations that the meeting concluded were following up the activities of religious movements and submitting regular reports, opening dialogue channels in an attempt to infiltrate their ranks through a network of intelligence agents and informats.

With regard to the security situation, the document called for the need to recruit as many informants as possible from all the different political and religious movements to work with the security services.

The document sheds light on the Syrian regime’s policy towards all religious organizations and movements in terms of monitoring, attempting to control, categorizing and penetrating. Each of these four faces has its tools, and each of them has its consequences, part of which was revealed after the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011.

 Syrian intelligence works largely to track down, monitor and infiltrate religious circles, especially the Sunni sect, but the intelligence has other tasks, as clarified by the February 2007 document, which called for monitoring the activities of Christian clerics.

The content of the document is somewhat similar to the contents of two WikiLeaks documents.

The first dates back to 2010, and revealed the meeting of an American delegation with the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, attended by the Director of General Intelligence (at the time) Ali Mamlouk, and the second dated August 2007, revealing a conversation that took place between the Iraqi Prime Minister (then) “Nuri al-Maliki and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” .

In the first WikiLeaks document, Mamlouk boasts to US officials of the Syrian regime's 30-year experience in combating extremist groups, stressing that the regime did not try to attack or kill them, but rather tried to plant intelligence agents within their ranks in order to pounce on them at the right moment.

In the second document, al-Assad told al-Maliki during one of his visit to Damascus that extremism is the main danger to Iraq and Syria and that despite the increase in the number of extremists, they are still under the eyes of the security services, which are able to control and control them.

Zaman Al Wasl
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