The Syrian government is targeting relatives of regime critics through a campaign of terror, ranging from threatening phone calls to beatings and murder, the Associated Press reported Friday.
One recent murder victim was Zainab al-HosnI, an 18-year-old resident of Homs in central Syria. She was arrested by plainclothes security officials July 27 in an apparent effort to silence her brother Mohammed, who had been organizing protests there. According to Amnesty International (AI), he was informed by telephone that Zainab would not be released unless he ended his activities.
Mohammed was arrested earlier this month and died in government custody. Security forces summoned his mother Sept. 13 to retrieve his body, which showed signs of gunshots, burns and bruises. At the same morgue, she found her daughter's body. Zainab had been decapitated and her arms were cut off, AI reported.
In July, Syrian pianist Malek Jandali participated in Washington rally calling for freedom in Syria. Not long after, pro-regime thugs stormed his elderly parents' home in Damascus and beat his mother Lina and his father, Maamoun. Jandali later posted photographs of his bloodied parents on Facebook.
Radwan Ziadeh, a Syrian-American activist in Washington, learned earlier this month that his brother had been arrested following a protest in Daraa, his hometown. In a recent interview, Ziadeh expressed concern that his brother's treatment in custody would be extremely brutal.
"I always have some guilt that I have put my family in some pressure and always they have been interrogating my mother and my brothers, trying actually to use them as a hostage (sic) to push me to be quiet," he said.
Last month, the FBI announced it was investigating reports that Syria is threatening and intimidating dissidents in the United States.