In cities and towns across Syria, the Shabiha is a much-feared cadre of pro-Assad paramilitary militia thugs. Shabiha means “ghost” in Arabic, and the group’s ranks are composed of thousands of Alawites, Syria’s ruling sect. Operating in a semi-official government gray area—some are non-uniformed freelancers who merge seamlessly into the population—the Shabiha’s main objective is to suppress riots against the Syrian regime and to sporadically conduct military attacks against Syrian opposition forces.
Recently, Shabiha members from Damascus—one of whom is identified as Diaa al-Assad, considered to be the leader of the gang there—published pictures online of their daily lives. These super-muscular men can be seen posing in flamboyant postures, hugging each other, holding machine guns and riding motorcycles. These photos are most likely intended to strike fear in the hearts of their enemies. Yet for the average viewer, it may seem as if these guys are auditioning for a new, up-and-coming middle eastern boy band. Or maybe even some “bear” porn.
Translation: “Long live the Shabiha.”
Translation: “Good morning, men!”
Translation: “Standing like lions!”
I want it that way…