Video of a rebel commander in Syria eating the body organs of a soldier loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime has sparked a global outcry, with human rights groups calling for an immediate end to the savagery and impunity. Western analysts are also once again debating the wisdom of U.S. and European support for the Islamist opposition, backing that has included financing since before the “revolution” began, arms shipments, training, and much more.
The footage in question had been circulating online and in news rooms for at least a week, but experts and reporters were unsure of its authenticity. Now, less than two weeks after the Obama administration announced that it may start overtly arming rebel forces in Syria, the video has been confirmed as authentic. In fact, the cannibalistic militant leader has reportedly even boasted of the crime in interviews with Western media outlets.
The horrific 30-second clip shows “Independent Omar al-Farouk Brigade” chief Khalid al-Hamad, who apparently fights under the pseudonym Abu Sakkar and has been implicated in other atrocities, standing over the dead body of a pro-regime fighter as other rebels celebrate. After cutting out an organ — apparently a lung mistaken for the heart or liver — the commander holds it up and speaks toward the camera.
“I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs — we will eat your heart and livers! Takbir! God is Great!” al-Hamad says in the video, according to translations in media reports. “Oh my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites [members of a Shia Muslim denomination to which dictator Assad belongs] and take their hearts out to eat them!” The Sunni rebel then appears to take a bite out of the organ.
After the footage went “viral” on the Internet, spreading like wildfire through social media, Time magazine reported that it had interviewed the Independent Omar al-Farouk Brigade commander responsible for what analysts have described as ritualistic cannibalism. Speaking to the American publication via Skype, al-Hamad reportedly said that despite the furor, he had no regrets over his decision to eat his enemy’s organs and put the video online.
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Photo of Syrian soldiers: AP Images