Today In Syria: “They Made [Dad] Watch My Mom Being Beaten”

Watch Are Syrian Spies on U.S. Soil? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

PBS has a blockbuster report on how Syria tries to stifle American expat dissent by torturing their relatives – even elderly parents – if they speak out:

 [I]t's not just Syrian expatriates making that allegation. In mid-October, the FBI arrested Mohamad Soueid, a naturalized citizen from Syria and a former car salesman in Northern Virginia. Among the charges leveled in the indictment, that Soueid was acting as an agent of the Syrian Mukhabarat, which is their national intelligence service. The indictment alleges he was actively spying on the expatriate community here and passing information back to Syria, where relatives of U.S.-based protesters would then be threatened or killed. Prosecutors say he had protests videotaped for delivery to Syrian agents.

If you believe you've been threatened by Syrian informants and want to publicize your story, contact PBS here. Benjamin Weinthal exposes even more troubling Assad intimidation in Europe. Bassem Mrou writes up new evidence of Assad running full-on torture chambers. Naturally, the Arab League is over its head, running to the UN for help with the flagging monitoring mission. Walter Russell Mead rolls his eyes:

For most of its history, involvement in wholesale human rights abuses was more a badge of courage than a mark of shame in what was mostly a dictators’ club…The Arab League will change only after its member governments change. Even then, change won’t come quickly. It lacks the standing, the skills, the resources and the leadership to play the kind of role Syria needs. Naming a notorious genocidaire to a humanitarian mission is only one symptom of this much deeper disease. The Arab League can bless initiatives of the west (as in Libya) or perhaps of Turkey and others in Syria; it is a very long way from having the capacity to act on its own.

A recent high level defector, Mahmoud Souleiman Hajj Hamad, is now speaking openly about Iran and Iraq's financial role in enabling the crackdown, but Brian Whitaker argues this support isn't enough. Below are protestors in Arbeen getting all up in the Arab League's face:

This man was murdered in Homs:

Amazingly, these political prisoners not only risked the same fate, but smuggled out this video of a protest inside the jail: