In the Syrian government held areas, the chain of extortion starts from the lowest rank of security apparatus, Mukhtar, a businessman linked with security branch or a member of military group. Most of cases documented by JFL are cases of extortion by military security branch, other cases by State Security, Air Force Intelligence, and Fourth Brigade branches. Philistine branch is a central station for most of the cases. No decision is made to move the detainee to a civil prison until huge funds are paid. The officials who receive the funds do not reveal their names. They are known with nicknames, that are changeable on periodic basis.
The intervention of a governmental party in one of the “detention for extortion” cases may indicate that the extortion acts turned into a means by many state institutions, military or civil ones, to get funds and cover the financial shortfall in some ministries.
In the Syrian government held areas, everyone is exposed to the risk of extortion regardless of their attitudes or political backgrounds. There are no guarantees for not to be a victim of extortion one more time. This puts civilians between the choice of remaining in these areas and being exposed to extortion, or to be displaced with an unknown fate.
In SDF held areas, the members of intelligence, public security, and counterterrorism often practice acts of extortion directly. Sometimes they response to some mediation efforts, but usually they do not pay attention to these efforts. In the light of decreasing level of security, and the involvement of groups with affiliation to the controlling forces in acts that endanger the civilians’ funds and safety, the civilians’ options are too limited; it is difficult to move to the government held areas. The areas in the north, that are controlled by the National Army, are not stable. Thus, the best of their bad options is to stay in their areas.
This report observes paying huge funds to the Syrian security apparatuses and officials of intelligence, counterterrorism, and public security that are affiliated with SDF in return to release detainees or stop threatening or returning of valuable stolen properties.
This report sheds the light on extortion acts that are practiced by controlling forces in Deir Ezzor. JFL field research interviewed 12 persons who were exposed to different types of extortion.