Confessions of an Assad 'Shabiha' loyalist: how I raped and killed for £300 a month
Ruth Sherlock hears a chilling confession from a member of the pro-Assad 'Shabiha' militia, likely soon to meet his death
Sitting in the dark, fetid cave that served as his makeshift prison, Mohammed confessed with the frankness of a man who knew he had no escape from death. For the equivalent of £300 a month, plus a £100 bonus for every victim, he had become a hired killer for President Bashar al Assad, he said. What was more, he had enjoyed every minute of it.
"We love Assad because the government gave us all the power - if I wanted to take something, kill a person or rape a girl I could," he said, in a calm, quiet voice devoid of remorse.
"The government gave me 30,000 Syrian pounds per month and an extra 10,000 per person that I captured or killed. I raped one girl, and my commander raped many times. It was normal."
Mohammed - not his real name - spoke to me last week at a secret rebel detention centre in Idlib Province in northern Syria, where he had been captured a few weeks earlier during a shoot-out with units from the Free Syrian Army.
Tucked away in the hills, the limestone caves where he is now confined were once used by rebel units to hide from President Assad's forces and stash their weapons. Now, 16 months into the uprising, they have become a prison for captured pro-regime fighters.