Hamdi Bouta’s video leaked, new videos appear and with them a new mystery

In May 2018, just over a year after Hamdi Bouta’s family held a secret funeral for him in the summer of 2017, the victim’s family said they received a copy of a video (Video A) showing the Russian-speaking man using A punch on the mace on Hamdi Bouta whatsapp. Syrian journalists from al-Jessr Press are currently investigating the case.

In the spring of 2018, the first video had been circulating the internet for at least a year, and the link between the al-Shaer incident and the Wagner group persuaded human rights activists in Syria and France to try raise awareness of the incident. in Moscow 96. Apparently, little is known about where this happened or who the individuals in the video were, other than their alleged connections to the Wagner Group.

While the Kremlin has repeatedly denied that there is a direct link between the Russian government and operators of Russian private military and security companies deployed in Syria, there is ample evidence to suggest otherwise. 97 Dozens of men were reportedly identified in connection with the US attack on Wagner in the spring of 2018 During fighting near another SPC-operated natural gas facility near the town of Khasham in Deir ez-Zor on 7 February 2018 The group’s contingent gradually surfaced in international media on the Russian social media platform Vkontakte. 99

There is significant circumstantial evidence that at least two of the Russian men depicted in the video torturing Hamdi Bouta at the al-Shaer facility were killed in the April 7 US airstrike on the Wagner Group column. May 2018 Injury or injury. kill. The points connecting the two events – the atrocity of al-Shaer and the battle of Khasham at Deir Ezzor – are not a straight line, but they exist in a tight network of Russian companies, businessmen and operators of private military and security companies They were together in the Donbass before being deployed in Syria.

Unsurprisingly, social media analyzed the digital archives of individual operators from Russian private military and security companies during the fighting in al-Shaer in the spring of 2017 and later in Deir ez-Zor in the winter of 2018. The encounter reveals a close friendship through Vkontakte with Russian citizens accused of war crimes in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine in the fall of 2015. Although these connections between social media users are not necessarily an excuse for particular analysis of online misconduct, the virtual lives of individuals in these groups shine a light on their military experience, as well as the skills and abilities possessed by Russian companies like EvroPolis. A development was attempted.

Analysis of video evidence

On the evening of June 30, 2017, the media reported the clip for the first two minutes. The video (Video A) shows several Russian-speaking men torturing a man by beating him in the limbs with sledgehammers. 100 The faces of the attackers were obscured and only part of the images were visible. Internet commentators at the time claimed the involvement of Wagner employees, but this was never confirmed. The identity and fate of the victims also remain unknown. The family told al-Jessr Press that they last heard from Buta on May 5, 2017, when they received a recorded message from him. According to Arabic-language dispatches, Bouta’s relatives learned of his death just a year after a video was posted online in May 2018. 101

It is unclear whether the torture video, which was reportedly released in June 2017, was the video’s first public appearance. However, in early November 2019, Twitter users from the Open Source Intelligence Research Community (OSINT) began sharing clips from a series of new videos that appeared to show a continuation of the torture and murder of Hamdi Bouta. 102 This included investigative journalist Gazeta from Novaya who first broached the subject and revealed the second part of three video clips (videos B, C, D) of the crime scene of Bouta’s assassination on 20 November 2019.103

In November 2019, extensive video and images of the event appeared in Vkontakte user profiles, collected and archived by our team. These enhanced videos show some or all of the faces of many attackers, revealing a more complete sequence of events. The victim’s face can be seen in the video until his body is dismembered. However, there is no clear indication of where the video may have been filmed, and little is known about anyone featured in the video other than the victim. This section describes where and when the incidents revealed by our investigation, as well as what we know about the identity of the victim-aggressors. We begin by outlining what is depicted in the video and what we know by trying to verify the accuracy of media reports suggesting the incident took place near al-Shaer.

John C. Dent