Susan Rice claimed Gaddafi’s troops were rape shock troops, issued Viagra to terrorize, but the CIA has a history of doing just that.

Little Blue Pills Among the Ways CIA Wins Friends in Afghanistan

By Joby Warrick

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 26, 2008

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

"Take one of these. You'll love it," the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes -- followed by a request for more pills.

For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are fought and won. While the CIA has a long history of buying information with cash, the growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining to gain support in some of the country's roughest neighborhoods, according to officials directly involved in such operations.

In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency's operatives have used a variety of personal services. These include pocketknives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas, and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said.

"Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people -- whether it's building a school or handing out Viagra," said one longtime agency operative and veteran of several Afghanistan tours. Like other field officers interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity when describing tactics and operations that are largely classified.

Officials say these inducements are necessary in Afghanistan, a country where warlords and tribal leaders expect to be paid for their cooperation, and where, for some, switching sides can be as easy as changing tunics. If the Americans don't offer incentives, there are others who will, including Taliban commanders, drug dealers and even Iranian agents in the region.

The usual bribes of choice -- cash and weapons -- aren't always the best options, Afghanistan veterans say. Guns too often fall into the wrong hands, they say, and showy gifts such as money, jewelry and cars tend to draw unwanted attention.

"If you give an asset $1,000, he'll go out and buy the shiniest junk he can find, and it will be apparent that he has suddenly come into a lot of money from someone," said Jamie Smith, a veteran of CIA covert operations in Afghanistan and now chief executive of SCG International, a private security and intelligence company. "Even if he doesn't get killed, he becomes ineffective as an informant because everyone knows where he got it."

The key, Smith said, is to find a way to meet the informant's personal needs in a way that keeps him firmly on your side but leaves little or no visible trace.

"You're trying to bridge a gap between people living in the 18th century and people coming in from the 21st century," Smith said, "so you look for those common things in the form of material aid that motivate people everywhere."

U.S. says Gaddafi troops raping, issued Viagra: envoys

by Louis Charbonneau
Reuters
April 28, 2011

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.S. envoy to the United Nations told the Security Council on Thursday that troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were increasingly engaging in sexual violence and some had been issued the impotency drug Viagra, diplomats said.

Several U.N. diplomats who attended a closed-door Security Council meeting on Libya told Reuters that U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice raised the Viagra issue in the context of increasing reports of sexual violence by Gaddafi’s troops.

“Rice raised that in the meeting but no one responded,” a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. The allegation was first reported by a British newspaper.

Pfizer Inc’s drug Viagra is used to treat impotence.

Diplomats said if it were true that Gaddafi’s troops were being issued Viagra, it could indicate they were being encouraged by their commanders to engage in rape to terrorize the population in areas that have supported the rebels. That would constitute a war crime.

Several diplomats said Rice provided no evidence for the Viagra allegation, which they said was made in an attempt to persuade doubters the conflict in Libya was not just a standard civil war but a much nastier fight in which Gaddafi is not afraid to order his troops to commit heinous acts.

“She spoke of reports of soldiers getting Viagra and raping,” a diplomat said. “She spoke of Gaddafi’s soldiers targeting children, and other atrocities.”

RAPE AS WEAPON?

Rice’s statement, diplomats said, was aimed principally at countries like India, Russia and China, which have grown increasingly skeptical of the effectiveness of the NATO-led air strikes, which they fear have turned the conflict into a protracted civil war that will cause many civilian deaths.

Most council members, diplomats said, had expected Gaddafi’s government to collapse quickly. They said the frustration felt by India, Russia and China would likely grow if the war dragged on.

The use of rape as a weapon during wartime has received increasing attention at the United Nations. Last year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed a special envoy on sexual violence during armed conflict, Margot Wallstrom.

Earlier this month, Wallstrom chided the Security Council for failing to mention sexual violence in two recent resolutions on Libya, despite having made the subject a priority.

Wallstrom said at the time that reports of rape in Libya remained unconfirmed but she cited the highly publicized case of Eman al-Obaidi, the woman who burst into a journalists’ hotel in Tripoli last month saying she had been raped by pro-government militiamen.

The International Criminal Court is already investigating whether Gaddafi’s government committed war crimes in its violent crackdown against demonstrators who demanded greater freedoms. The crackdown sparked a rebellion that has turned into a civil war.

The U.S. mission to the United Nations declined to comment.

Similarly, a Telegraph article from 2011 claimed Assad had group of shock troop brigade called "Shabiha"

The Shabiha: Inside Assad's death squads

The Shabiha started off as racketeers and smugglers. But now, as ultra-loyal enforcers of Syria's brutal regime, they have taken on a far more bloodthirsty role, write Harriet Alexander and Ruth Sherlock.

The door to Dr Mousab Azzawi's clinic, on the Mediterranean coast of Syria, was always open to anyone who needed help. But, operating in the heartland of the feared Shabiha militia, there were some patients the doctor would have preferred not to treat.

"They were like monsters," said Dr Azzawi, who worked in Latakia. "They had huge muscles, big bellies, big beards. They were all very tall and frightening, and took steroids to pump up their bodies.

"I had to talk to them like children, because the Shabiha likes people with low intelligence. But that is what makes them so terrifying – the combination of brute strength and blind allegiance to the regime."

As President Bashar al-Assad's country continues its savage slide towards full-blown civil war, the violent, dark and secretive world of the Shabiha is coming out into the open.

Nine days ago, 108 people were butchered by the Shabiha in the town of Houla. The pro-Assad thugs went through the village, house to house, and slit the throats of anyone they came across – including 49 children. Exactly a week later, the Shabiha pulled 12 factory workers off a bus in the town of Qusayr, 40 miles to the south; tied their hands behind their backs, and shot them in the head.

"This is my son, my son," sobbed one old man in a video of the aftermath posted on YouTube, as he tugged in vain at the leg of a corpse lying face up, his blue shirt covered in blood.

The world is learning just how bloodthirsty the Shabiha can be. But inside Syria, their capacity for hideous brutality has long been known.

"Even before the revolution, any time there was unrest they would go out into the streets and stop it for the government," said Selma, who comes from a prominent Alawite family – a Shia Muslim sect, into which the Assad family was born, and to which almost all of the Shabiha belong. Her cousins are Shabiha.

"They would just break people's arms and legs. They would fight for Bashar to the death. It is natural – they have to defend their sect."

Her cousins wore civilian clothes, she explained – "then the television can say that these are just civilians who love Bashar."

Indeed, a survivor of the Houla massacre said he knew they were Shabiha, and not the army, because the men were wearing white trainers instead of black military boots. The white running shoes have grown into a terrifying sight for the people of Syria, who fear the ruthless, lawless Shabiha almost more than the army.

Tit-for-tat killings on both sides are on the rise, with the rebels and the pro-government forces both accused of carrying out attacks. But it is the Shabiha - whose name means ghosts in Arabic - who inspire the most terror.

President Assad, and his father Hafez before him, used the Shabiha to terrorise Syrians into obedience, brainwashing the militia into believing the Sunni majority was their enemy.

Alawites comprise about 12 per cent of Syria's population, and historically were persecuted by the Sunnis; living in poverty in the mountainous rural areas around Homs and the port city of Latakia.

Alawites, who split from the Shia branch of the Islamic faith in the ninth century, believe prayers are not necessary and do not fast or perform pilgrimages. Many of the key tenets of the faith are secret, adding to their mystique, although some scholars say Alawites have incorporated elements of Christianity into their creed. Sunnis see them as heretics.

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Syria's French rulers needed soldiers willing to defend the regime from a Sunni uprising, so they incorporated large numbers of Alawites into the army, who were only too happy to fight their Sunni "oppressors".

They became the most politically powerful sect in Syria, and the vast majority of the country's top intelligence and military officers adhere to the faith. It was from the army that Hafez al-Assad emerged to stage his coup.

Initially the Shabiha were a mafia clan, making money through racketeering. Selma, the Alawite with Shabiha family, said her cousins were "filthy rich" through smuggling in diesel, milk and electronics. "Anything to Lebanon that is cheaper in Syria, and whatever is needed in Syria from Lebanon," she said.

The ruling Assad family turned a blind eye to their criminal behaviour and violent methods. In return, the Shabiha became the Assads' fiercely loyal defenders and enforcers.

"They are fuelled by this belief that they are fighting for their survival," said Dr Azzawi. "Assad tells them that they must defend the government or else they will be destroyed; it's kill, or be killed."

Dr Azzawi, who now runs the Syrian Network for Human Rights from London, showed The Sunday Telegraph a video of the Shabiha in action.

An enormous man, identified on the video as Areen al-Assad – a member of the president's family clan – posed with his gun, grinned from the steering wheel of his car, and flexed his muscles. His huge bicep bulged with a tattoo of the president's face.

At the end of the video, the posturing Shabiha militants proclaim: "Bashar, do not be sad: you have men who drink blood."

"It is their motto," explained Dr Azzawi, who said that many of the men were recruited from bodybuilding clubs and encouraged to take steroids. "They are treated like animals, and manipulated by their bosses to carry out these murders. They are unstoppable."

Hamza al-Buweida, a Sunni activist from Qusayr province, told The Sunday Telegraph how he watched in horror as his childhood friend got sucked into the Shabiha.

"Even when we were at university he looked to Bashar like he was God. Nobody was allowed to say something bad about him.

"It is something in their religion that moves them. And state media is terrifying them that terrorists will kill them if Bashar falls from power," he said.

"The army gave my friend a gun, he started using it to shoot at the people in the demonstrations. The security forces gave him a special sense of identity."

The militia operated with blind devotion to the leaders, referred to as "muallim", meaning boss, or "khaal", uncle. And indeed, it was in many ways a family business.

Mr Assad's cousin Numir has taken over as one of the key rulers of the Shabiha – even though the government is careful to avoid direct association with the militia and their murderous acts.

How the men are paid is unclear, although many claim the Shabiha is funded by businessmen tied into the Alawite clique that dominates the government.

What is known is that the Shabiha have a strong economic motives for backing the regime. Foot soldiers can earn up to £120 for a day's thuggery – a fortune in Syria.

The regime has long supported the Alawites financially: in the 1980s President Hafez al-Assad built homes in the Mazzeh area of Damascus for poor Alawite labourers who moved to the capital. When the uprising began in March 2011, the residents thanked the regime by violently repressing any stirrings of revolt.

In addition to sectarian hatred and economic motives, the Shabiha have another reason for wanting to keep the Assad regime in power.

"Being linked in the minds of most Syrians to the government, the Alawites are absolutely terrified of retribution if the government falls," said Professor Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

"And that fear is probably pretty accurate. The Alawites will face very bad things if the Assads are forced out."

Indeed, reassuring the country's 2.1 million Alawites that they will not be targeted in a post-Assad Syria is one of the key aims of the opposition, alongside encouraging ordinary Alawites to defect.

Of the Syrian Network for Human Rights's 239 dissidents inside the country, only 19 are Alawites. Of the Syrian National Council's 311 members, only five to ten are Alawites.

One of the most prominent Alawites on the council is Monzer Makhous.

"The Alawites are supporting Assad because they have been told that he is protecting them, and are very afraid about what will happen when he goes," he told The Sunday Telegraph. "But I don't think there will be revenge against them. Syrian people want peace.

"It is a big challenge for the SNC to attract more Alawites. The Shabiha are killing them too, if they try to leave. But we need them on our side."

Other Alawites agree that more should be done to encourage defections.

Oubab Khalil, an Alawite in Texas from the Syrian Expatriates Organization, said that many were willing to desert the president.

"Assad appointed himself guardian of the sect, but it's certainly not true that all Alawites support him," he said. "Assad has targetted Alawites too.

"They are there in the demonstrations, but are more afraid of turning against him."

But are economic reasons, sectarian hatred and fear of the future really enough to drive someone to slit a child's throat? Selma thinks so.

"If they know the whole area is against the regime they have no problem killing everybody," she said. "That is how it works."

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