Sunday, 2 December 2012

"Okab Sakr Smuggles Arms, Ignites Civil War in Syria"

"Okab Sakr Smuggles Arms, Ignites Civil War in Syria"
Local Editor
Lebanon: Al-Akhbar emblemLocal Al-Akhbar daily has obtained recordings of Al-Mustaqbal party MP Okab Sakr organizing weapons transfers to the armed Syrian opposition groups at the behest of Al-Mustaqbal leader Saad Hariri.

The phone call is the first hard evidence of the role Sakr and his backers in Al-Mustaqbal were playing in providing arms and logistical support to the Syrian rebels.

In a three-part series built on documents, audio recordings, and interviews with sources close to Sakr, Al-Akhbar sheds light on Sakr’s attempts to hijack the Syrian unrest for his own means while running the armed opposition on ground.

A few weeks ago, Al-Akhbar’s offices in Beirut received an anonymous phone call. The caller claimed he was in possession of audio recordings which he said it will expose MP Okab Sakr and his role in destroying the so-called revolution in Syria.”

The news did not come as a surprise. Sakr’s connection to the Syrian opposition was well-known, and his role as an arms dealer to the rebels had been documented in the press.

Al-Akhbar initially doubted the caller and his motivations, but he promptly sent the first recording. It sounded a lot like Sakr’s voice, which was later confirmed by audio experts.

It was soon revealed that the source had been working with Sakr for more than a year as part of an operations room established to support the Syrian uprising.

According to the source, there are several operations centers: one in Antakya, one in Adana, and one in Istanbul. He mentioned that Sakr had his own building in the Floriya neighborhood in Istanbul where meetings are held from time to time.
Lebanon: Al-Mustaqbal MP Okab SakrHe also said that around 20 young men from various Syrian regions are charged with running military operations from the rooms. They coordinate with commanders of armed opposition groups to provide needed funding and hardware, and then they direct fighters toward areas under attack or siege, all under the supervision of Turkish and Qatari intelligence officers.

According to the source, all of this was coordinated through satellite communications devices, especially Thuraya and Iridium satellite phones. He added that the men regularly visit Syria to distribute money to opposition leaders.

The source also said that Sakr is very close to the abductor of the nine Lebanese pilgrims, known as Abu-Ibrahim. He claimed the latter received a monthly salary of $50,000, hand-delivered by young men from Sakr’s office.

As for his motivation to provide the recordings, the source said that “Sakr ruined the revolution with his crazy dealings.”

“During the meetings, we would object, for example, to his decision to send weapons to a particular area that we wanted to remain a safe haven for those fleeing the fighting,” the source told Al-Akhbar. “But [Sakr] would hysterically insist on his decision, indifferent to the lives of people.”

He went on to accuse the Lebanese MP of “dealing out money to the commanders of armed groups without discriminating between mercenary killers and patriotic opposition.”

The source also mentioned some incidents that “showed Sakr’s real nature,” explaining that Sakr “provided armed support to topple the regime because he hated the regime, not because he loved the Syrian people.”

Lebanon: Al-Mustaqbal MP Okab Sakr and his personal friend Louai al-Mokdad in TurkeyOn several occasions, the Lebanese MP refused to give out financial support to the wounded or civilian refugees, saying “there are humanitarian organizations they can go to,” according to the source.

He spoke of several incidents where “Sakr sent my friends out to die, knowing they will definitely be killed, because he doubted them or had a disagreement.”

He mentioned the “limitless influence” of the Lebanese MP within the Turkish intelligence services and the “blind trust” accorded him by the Saudis, whom he felt they trusted more than Saad Hariri himself.

According to the source, Saudi Arabia is not the only Gulf state with whom Sakr maintained warm relations. “His relationship with the Qataris is also exemplary, despite the fierce competition with the Saudis,” the source said.

He also confirmed that Sakr had been spending most of his time in Turkey “to follow up the Syrian revolution minute by minute” for the past several months.

The source revealed that Sakr held regular meetings with field commanders in the presence of Turkish, Qatari, and Saudi intelligence officers. The MP designated his personal friend Louai al-Mokdad, spokesperson for the Higher Council of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), to follow up on some of his duties and refused to delegate to anyone else.

As for the picture published recently showing Sakr and Mokdad together, the source confirmed that the latter leaked it at Sakr’s directions, after receiving information that their relationship had become known.

As for Sakr’s recent appearance from France on Future Television, the source said that the episode had been planned prior to the assassination of Lebanese security chief Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan. He said that Sakr left Turkey the same day of the interview, to give the impression that he was away from Turkey and deflect suspicion.

First Recording: Okab Sakr Arming Syrian Rebels

Abu al-Numan (a leader of an armed group): Assalamu alaikum.
Okab Sakr: Wa alaikum assalam. Go ahead.

A. N.: Mr. Okab, our group is stuck and surrounded. One or two days and the region will fall. Here we are being bombed by airplanes and artillery. They are attacking from all fronts. Please help; we need weapons.

O. S.:
Please tell me, the weapons you want, what are the quantities.

A. N.: We need around 300 rocket-propelled grenades and twenty launchers. And if it is possible, provide 250,000 Russian rounds [for AK47s], 300 machineguns, and some special pieces of arms.
O. S.:
All of this, for which region do you need it exactly.

A. N.: Azaz, Tal Refaat, Andan, and the whole of Rif Halab [Aleppo’s countryside]. You know what is happening here. Since yesterday, they managed to enter from around three fronts from Idlib...and inside Aleppo, we have the Shabiha [government thugs].
O. S.:
So who will receive and where will the delivery happen. How will the operation take place?

A. N.: Delivery, as usual, will be divided up...Abu al-Baraa will be there with the guys and the cars will take them and bring them to Aleppo. But we need to do it as fast as possible, because there’s a big need and the shelling continues. People are scattered and there’s no ammunition. The men, each one barely has one or two magazines and there’s a lot consumption. Try to get them in any way possible, God bless you. I don’t know what to say, after God, there is only you.
O. S.:
Will you be there at the delivery?

A. N.: No brother, Abu al-Nour will be there with the guys and the cars. They will take them from you as usual.
Source: Al-Akhbar
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