Louisa Loveluck and Zakaria Zakaria report:
“The guards went by nicknames to avoid identification. Four survivors said the most famous was known as Azrael, or the Angel of Death. They described him as a thickset man from Assad’s coastal stronghold of Latakia who carried a stick laced with razor blades. They said he selected prisoners, most of them deathly ill, for a fate he called “justice.” The detainees called it execution.
Masri recalled Azrael taking a lighter to a plastic bag and melting it drop by drop onto a prisoner’s face until he died, apparently of a heart attack. Other prisoners said he used an iron rod to smash their bedmates’ skulls.
Many died where they lay, slumped against their bedmates until morning came. For Mustafa in the winter of 2012, that meant sharing a bed until sunrise the next day with three corpses.
As the uprising outside morphed into a war, former prisoners say, their interrogators became obsessed with the notion of accomplices, torturing prisoners to extract the names of new suspects to arrest.
Documents signed by senior government and security officials acknowledged the upsurge in deaths, at times complaining that the bodies were building up.”
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has turned its back on Syrian refugees while downplaying human rights a consideration in foreign relations (witness today’s “cozying up” to the brutal Egyptian strongman). President Trump has also in the past spoken approvingly of torture as a method of gathering intelligence, even though it is a clear violation of U.S. and international law.