By Naovaf Ibrahim and Munsef Matni
Voice of Russia has managed to interview a former fighter of the insurgent Free Syrian Army, 27-year-old Youssef Naami. A couple of days ago, Youssef and several of his comrades defected to the incumbent regime.
“We were told that we must go and fight. It was Sheikh Ayman al-Khalid who talked to us most often. He said that we should work for the good of the Motherland, for the sake of faith, that we were blessed with an important mission – to struggle against the sinners in power. And so on. At first, we just went to demonstrations,” Naami said.
However, after the young men had taken part in peaceful demonstrations, the organizers handed weapons to them:
“They drove us to a training base; there they taught us to handle weapons. After the training we began to take part in clashes with the army. And not only that: we also abducted people. We were told that they were supporting the regime. And we killed people too. There was some kind of boldness in it. They promised to pay us from 5,000 to 10,000 Lire for this (approx 80-160 dollars – Ed.). But actually they paid 1000 or 1500 Lear, and often nothing at all.”
“I saw people murdered with my own eyes. Often my friends and I kept watch while others broke into houses and killed people. Once I raped a woman in one house too. Now I am ashamed of it. It’s painful to think about it. And back then it seemed like I was not myself – it was fervor or something. Now I think it is all because of drugs,” Naami confessed.
According to Naami, he was not the only one who was drugged without his knowledge: “Now it is difficult to remember exactly when it started. Sometimes we were drinking tea with some strange grass. They told us it increased energy or something. Then there were pills. When we were going for an operation, they gave us different pills; it is to calm our nerves, they said, and for courage, so that we won’t be afraid. And it was true, after you swallow it, you are ready to go and shoot the whole world. Now I want to forget about it.”
“Today I feel as if I am born again,” Yousef Naami announced. His name was struck off the register of militants, and the local authorities have given him a job in a water supply company.