Saudi Arabia has sent death-row inmates from several nations to fight against the Syrian government in exchange for commuting their sentences, the Assyrian International News Agencyreports.
Citing what it calls a "top secret memo" in April from the Ministry of Interior, AINA says the Saudi offered 1,239 inmates a pardon and a monthly stipend for their families, which were were allowed to stay in the Sunni Arab kingdom. Syrian President Bashar Assad is an Alawite, a minority Shiite sect.
According to an English translation of the memo, besides Saudis, the prisoners included Afghans, Egyptians, Iraqis, Jordanians, Kuwaitis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, Somalis, Sudanese, Syrians and Yemenis. All faced "execution by sword" for murder, rape or drug smuggling.
Russia, which has backed Assad, objected to the bargain and allegedly threatened to bring the issue to the United Nations, said an unidentified former Iraqi member of Parliament who confirmed the memo's authenticity, says AINA, an independent outlet.
"Initially Saudi Arabia denied the existence of this program. But the testimony of the released prisoners forced the Saudi government to admit, in private circles, its existence," AINA writes. "The Saudis agreed to stop their clandestine activities and work towards finding a political solution on condition that knowledge of this program would not be made public."
AINA also published the original Arabic memo.
The report mentions that most of the 23 Iraqi prisoners returned home, as did an unspecified number of Yemenis. But AINA does not indicate the fates of the remaining inmates or how many may have been killed, wounded or captured.
Assyrians, the builders of Mesopotamian civilizations, are a semitic people indigenous to northern Iraq. They are ethnically distinct from Arabs and Jews, and are generally Christians. Assyria dominated the Middle East in the first millennium BCE.
Mount Vernon, October 24, 1798.
Sir: I have your favor of the 17th. instant before me; and my only
motive to trouble you with the receipt of this letter, is to explain,
and correct a mistake which I perceive the hurry in which I am obliged,
often, to write letters, have led you into.
It was not my
intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles
of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no
one is more truly satisfied of this fact than I am.
The idea that I meant to convey, was, that I did not believe that the Lodges of Free Masons in this Country had, as Societies,
endeavoured to propagate the diabolical tenets of the first, or
pernicious principles of the latter (if they are susceptible of
seperation). That Individuals of them may have done it, or that the founder, or instrument
employed to found, the Democratic Societies in the United States, may
have had these objects; and actually had a seperation of the People from their Government in view, is too evident to be questioned.