Washington D.C – Zahran Alloush has been a prime suspect in the abduction of Razan Zeitoune and her colleagues, Samira al-Khalil, Wael Hamadeh, and Nazem Hammadi. On December 9, 2013, in the Damascus suburb of Duma, an unknown group attacked Razan’s office and kidnapped her and her team.
Alloush, who has been accused by many opposition figures of being behind the kidnapping, has denied the charges completely.
Zeitoune, whose team operated the Violation Documentation Center, is a multiple award-winner for her work in documentation, and also for supporting her local community of Duma throughout the regime’s aggression. It is the above reasons that makes her kidnapping a very serious issue, as it has targeted the most democratic opposition figure to the Assad regime and the best documenter of its crimes.
Yassin Haj Saleh, a permanent Syrian opposition figure and writer who spent sixteen years in detention during the Assad regime, has repeatedly linked Alloush to the kidnapping of his wife, Samira Khalil, who is one of the individuals kidnapped from Razan’s office.
Saleh claims that there is credible evidence that proves Alloush as being responsible for the disappearance of his wife and colleagues. He demanded from Alloush their immediate release. Saleh went on to state that they had received serious threats by the Islamic Army two months before the kidnapping. He claims that they shot bullets in the air right in front of their office to push them to leave Duma. “I will do my best to criminalize them internationally,” Haj Saleh stressed.
Rami Nakhla, a permanent Syrian activist who was involved directly in the negotiations with the Islamic army to release the four kidnapped activists, has uncovered concrete evidence indicating the possible site where the activists are being held and which appears to be the media office of the Islamic Army.
“After the kidnapping of Razan I had reached all her friends who were around her to get the serial number of the devices to monitor, and identify her current whereabouts on a map, and through a Syrian activist. I managed to get a computer charger legacy which the kidnappers left behind them. Also [I] got the invoice of a device by the buying organization, as well as the satellite device number Razan used,” Nakhla indicated.
There was a considerable cooperation from the “Skype” company. They informed the international relay party in the investigation that on January 13 at 11:39, “Someone tried to access [the] account of Razan Zaitouneh on Skype using the correct password for the account, but the company had suspended the account and changed the password after the kidnapping incident, so the user failed to access [the] Razan account.”
Nakhla continued, “Also by the special expert, it was discovered that this IP belongs to space internet device…[and] made and served by a company…based in Luxembourg; only the company can inform us who purchased this device and who is the person that pays the bill for the service. Every month, I personally have continued with the company, but refused to definitely send me personally, or who assists the investigation any information unless we get an injunction. It is of course impossible here [to] get an injunction,” Nakhla said in an email to Yassin Haj Saleh on December 6, 2014.
“We expected that this owner does not doubt he uses Facebook, so I continued the investigation with the help of Facebook to identify the profile associated with this IP.” Facebook provided Nakhla with the account of one “Yones Nisren.”
“After reading his profile, we found his name was Younis Nasreen, a relatively young man, resident of DUMA (Damascus suburb), as his homepage indicated, and has a lot of pictures with characters from the Islamic Army, [with] one image with Zahran Alloush in person. And after asking around some sources in Duma, we found out that he is the media officer of Zahran Alloush’s Islamic Army. After I faced Zahran Alloush with this evidence the page disappeared from Facebook.”
Nakhla continued, “At this point we have direct evidence of the involvement of the Islamic Army in the abduction issue and the next step is to initiate negotiations for the release of [the] abducted”.
“I contacted Islam Alloush, a cousin of Zahran Alloush and a commander in the Islamic Army. In a conversation that between…Islam and Rami, Islam said, “I have information about the activists but I don’t want to help because they attacked us a lot.”
Zahran Alloush has systematically denied the responsibility for the kidnapping. But the efforts by the victims’ relatives and their supporters are at a high, especially now that Alloush is in Turkey. The hope remains that the Turkish government, which has been the most supportive of all oppositions and activists, will help in this serious matter.
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