Adopt a Syrian rebel? Websites raise cash for opposition
With an average price of $1,000 for a Kalashnikov rifle and $4 per bullet, the plea for funds is never ending.
June 22nd, 2012
01:36 PM ET

Adopt a Syrian rebel? Websites raise cash for opposition

Editor's Note: The following text is from GlobalPost, which provides views — importantmoving or just odd — from around the world.

By Tracey Shelton, GlobalPost

Ahmed Assi dodges bullets and missiles on a regular basis.

The 24-year-old has been shot at, wounded, hunted down, imprisoned and tortured. He has spent many months camping in the Syrian mountains “Che Guevara style.”

But Assi is not a rebel fighter. He is a Syrian journalist — with a political agenda.

“I make my jihad by words, not by violence,” he said.

His mission is not just to tell the world about the plight of Syria's rebel forces, but also to raise money, which the rebels use to buy more of whatever they might need. Assi works for one of several dozen websites that have popped up in the last year to raise cash for activists and rebels working inside Syria to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

“We raise money for weapons, but armed conflict is not the objective — it is a necessity at this time,” explained Assi, who works with a team of volunteers on the shamfalcons.com website. “The real value of my work will be after the revolution. Information is more powerful than a bullet.”

But at $4 a bullet, the going rate inside Syria these days, it will take a lot of fundraising to power a revolution.

More from GlobalPost: Inside Syria: You will never guess who arms the rebels

Assi's website posts news about the eight rebel battalions of Jabal al-Zawiya, known collectively as the Sham Falcons. Videos, photos and reports in English, French and Arabic inform readers of checkpoint attacks, the seizure of armed vehicles and weapons, and the death of fallen comrades.

Such stories are always followed with a plea to “donors, military experts and weapons merchants.”

A well-placed Islamic quote outlines the rewards:

"O you who have believed, shall I guide you to a transaction that will save you from a painful punishment? [It is that] you believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives.”

Abu Hajar, the website’s developer, said he now receives regular donations from within Syria and from a network of people abroad. Hajar said everything is organized via Skype, which is encrypted, making it the "safest common form of long-distance communication in Syria." The website is hosted outside of the country, and material is uploaded via satellite connections using a virtual private network.

Hajar has worked on the site since the revolution began, first in Brussels where he had been working at the time, and now in Jabal al-Zawiya, Syria. The system he helped create has now spread across the globe. Dozens of trusted coordinators collect donations and arrange for money and goods to be smuggled into Syria.

“There are a lot of foreigners that want to come here to help us with our fight, but if they did they would be accused of being terrorists,” Hajar said. “So instead they send us money.”

More from GlobalPost: A Syrian rebel sings the Backstreet Boys

Many more websites like his are springing up to support Syrian rebel groups desperate for funding for everything from medicine and satellite Internet devices to guns and missile launchers.

Another website, Adopt a Revolution, is run by activists operating in Germany and Syria. It seems more like an international children’s aid group than a rebel fundraising organization. All it is missing is a pitch from Sally Struthers as the site pleads for regular sponsors of the “Syrian Spring.”

“One activist in hiding needs monthly about 100 euro for daily expenses,” the website reads.

The page goes on to describe the various committees in Syrian towns in need of financial support. There are 31 in all, and Adopt a Revolution says they now raise about 1,000 euros per month for each of these committees with the help of 1,400 regular sponsors.

Elias Perabo, one of the websites founders, said the funds raised on their site are not used for weapons, but are instead focused on providing activists with the means of conveying what is taking place inside Syria. For this they need equipment, Internet connections and safe houses.

“We have three aims,” Perabo told GlobalPost in a Skype interview. “To bring support to the local communities in Syria, to bring activists abroad closer to Syrian issues, and to build an emotional link so people here in Germany can connect with a Syrian community to understand the issues they are facing.”

Perabo said their donors, who receive regular updates regarding their “adopted” Syrians, range from corporations to retired couples and students. Perabo got involved when on holiday in Syria last April. He found himself unwittingly in the middle of an uprising. The idea for the website, which launched last Christmas, came from there.

Earlier this month, it seemed that relief from the constant fundraising struggle had arrived when Syrian businessmen abroad met in Qatar and announced their pledge of $300 million toward the revolution. But the pledge was met by skepticism.

“It’s hard to see where money like this goes. But we hope more money is getting through,” Perabo said.

Hajar and the team at shamfalcons.com said such money would only go to the so-called Free Syrian Army leaders living abroad.

“Most of the revolutionaries in Syria refuse to place themselves under the banner of the Free Syrian Army for several reasons, and then receive no help from them,” Hajar said.

As for the Sham Falcons, with an average price of $1,000 for a Kalashnikov rifle and $4 per bullet, the plea for funding is never ending.

“Money is the heart of war,” Hajar said with a sigh. “Without it, we can not accomplish anything.”

Topics: Syria

soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. rad666

    Just arm them like John McCain said. Send a spare nuke or two.

    June 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  2. Carmen

    Remember we helped the Taliban, in Lybia Sharia law is imposed and Christians are beaten and killed like in Egypt where the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood wants an Iranian style country, the same for Siria, where if children are killed is because their radical muslim parents used them as shields, sacificing for Allah.
    Support any of them we are supporting who tomorrow will kill us.

    June 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Reply
    • Larry of the Dune

      What, you have not heard that Muslims lie?
      Read their Courun and see how many times Moohamed tells them that allah wants them to lie, invent, fabricate, deceive...

      June 24, 2012 at 9:16 am | Reply
  3. merlinfire

    $1000 per AK and $4 a bullet is about 3x too expensive for the gun, and at least 10x too expensive for the ammo. In the US, with dumb gun laws, you can buy AK's all day long for $350, and 7.62×39 ammunition for 25 cents per round.

    June 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  4. Bob Dalzell

    Where the heck are these guys buying their guns and ammo? An AK sells for about $400-600 at any gun shop in my area, with ammunition selling for a quarter per round. Talk about inflation!

    June 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Reply
    • 0hmama

      Bob I think they are buying it from a greedy Jew arm dealer

      June 23, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Reply
      • doughnuts

        The dry-cleaner called. He said your white robes and hood are ready.

        June 23, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
      • Sharkfisher

        Some filthy muslim on a fast camal got there first.

        June 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
      • Baba O'Riley

        instead of the "Jew arms dealer"?

        June 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  5. Teresa Wright

    I am a christian and I support the Muslims who do not want to kill christians at all.

    June 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Reply
    • 0hmama

      I am Muslim and support christians whom do not want to kill Muslims

      June 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Reply
      • Larry of the Dune

        I am an atheist who wants to see all Muslims go the way of the Dodo bird.

        June 24, 2012 at 9:18 am |
      • Debby

        I am a Christian who needs to see muslims be accountable for their lies, deceptions, mutilations, bombings, violence ridden lives...

        June 24, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  6. Andrey

    Since when Kalashnikov assault rifle is $1,000? You can support a terrorist and be cheated too!

    June 23, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Reply
  7. ender

    4 dollars for a bullet? my local walmart sells a 1000 for 249.99. and ak's for 549.99. what up bee?

    June 24, 2012 at 12:44 am | Reply
    • Lilbit

      They don't have Wal-Marts in Syria. It is called a black market, where the demand for an item exceeds the availability of it. It is not like they can just drive a semi-truck, loaded with AK-47's and ammunition, across the border of Syria and deliver them to the rebels. Seriously people get real!

      June 24, 2012 at 5:33 am | Reply
  8. tdsd

    Use the tried and tested formula. Get a Hollywood heavyweight actor like Brad Pitt to support their cause. Rope in a movied director and as the guest of honor, the venerable Dalai Lama, Justin Bieber and don't forget George Bush, the son not the father. Then you can a loud party.
    But of course, you have to fine-tune the truth coming out of Syria.

    June 24, 2012 at 2:01 am | Reply
  9. warsteiner

    How about keeping the anti American boloney to a minimum since we give more to the world then any other country. The article is about adopting a Syrian Rebel. That sound crazy to me,if the rebels are fighting a rightious fight then my prayer are with them. But here at the CNN website there is an article about a man who wrote a small book on non violent struggle and it has helped millions win freedom and democracy read it and stop using violence. If you live by the sword you will die by it. No one can force another to do anything unless the person lets them. Stop participating take away the people they mean to rule.

    June 24, 2012 at 5:29 am | Reply
  10. Rodney

    I just want to see the Assad "regime" gone. The people will never have a say unless it's gutted.

    June 24, 2012 at 6:56 am | Reply
    • Oh Boy

      Not so simple, Rodney. With Assad gone, the people won't have much to say as there will be fighting between various factions. On top of that Israel will try its best to maintain that turmoil and start land grabbing -to add to their illegal hold on Golan (btw was initiated by Israel)

      June 24, 2012 at 8:55 am | Reply
  11. Kirk

    To Tarek from Syria: I doubt if you really are in Syria. The USA will regret in supporting these terrorist rebels. The Iraq affair is not over. I have no doubt that is Assad leaves there will be chaos. I have no doubt that the Christians will all leave to exile. Take the example of Turkey. A few Christians have been left and they are oppressed.

    June 24, 2012 at 6:58 am | Reply
  12. Oh Boy

    I smell Zionist behind the scenes on one...just follow the money and the stench.

    June 24, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply
    • Larry of the Dune

      I smell another muslim lying, cheating, bragging, whining, deceiving, fabricating...

      June 24, 2012 at 9:19 am | Reply
    • Sharkfisher

      What you smell is a muslim after eating lima beans and HAM HOCKS!!

      June 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  13. .

    test

    June 24, 2012 at 9:04 am | Reply
  14. Chuk

    Syria calls these people terrorists and the West call them "rebels". Time will tell who is right. It'd be interesting to consister a similar situation in our recent past in Libya. Then, they were called "defenceless protesters" (no mention of their sophisticated weapons). And there was the small issue of conducting a regime change under the guise of "protecting innocent civilians". It seems the West is trying the same script in Syria. But this time Russia and China have wised up and it may not go as scripted this time.

    June 24, 2012 at 9:24 am | Reply
    • rochdoc

      Atleast now we have started hearing some real names now. In the early "spring" we did not have any names of these "leaders" - they just sprang out of internet!!.
      Someday soon, some people in USA are going to answer to the people for what they are creating in the middle east. Just like how they created Taliban.

      June 24, 2012 at 10:38 am | Reply
  15. Debby

    Assad receives advice and direction from Iran.

    June 24, 2012 at 9:26 am | Reply
  16. alan

    I will support a Syrian government soldier!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 24, 2012 at 10:02 am | Reply
  17. OregonTom

    Four dollars a bullet? I thought ammunition in the states was pricey !

    June 24, 2012 at 10:06 am | Reply
  18. rochdoc

    Than you Zakaria for letting us know. Now tell us how they can also contribuite to US election.

    June 24, 2012 at 10:39 am | Reply
  19. lightbayne

    Another no win situation for the United States. Both sides chant "Death to America." Here is an Idea, let these evil people "YES EVIL" kill each other, becuase no matter who comes to power we will be dropping bombs there one day, becuase these people get their jollies by dying for the god Stephen Hawking proved doesn't exist.

    June 24, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply
  20. Shopping

    Can I buy a gift certificate from the website?

    June 24, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
    • .

      They're having a sale on suicide vests.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  21. dewed

    $4 per bullet?? I'm sitting on a gold mine!

    June 24, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply
  22. .

    The Syrian rebel you adopt today will become the Islamofascist who plots your doom tomorrow.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  23. Sharkfisher

    ohmama is another sheethead that tries to blame eveythig on Israel. Muslims would need a stepladder to shine a jews shoes. If the world needed an enama they would stick the tube in Mecca.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Reply
    • Debby

      Absolutely, right on!

      June 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Reply
    • .

      Well said, Sharky.

      June 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  24. create another al qaeda

    al qaeda was made by usa during the 1990s against Russia , and now they are harboring another terrorist. Oneday those so called rebel will turn their weapon against USA ,,,,,

    June 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      Well, actually I think that is the same one: old good al Qaeda.
      This time they not only got themselves a few countries where they could fester. They also try new creative approaches to building their financing network – moving with times. It does not matter how many liberal fools use this site to give their money to "rebels". It is all about creating another channel their traditional sponsors could use to donate BIG sums of money without even leaving the comfort or their harems...
      And CNN goes around bragging about that: that is ridiculous!

      June 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Reply
    • Baba O'Riley

      Backstabbing = muslim

      June 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  25. Ja-koffalotte

    This will all end up the same way as Egypt, fanatic muslims hell-bent on killing in the name of some GAWD. The Mayans were extinguished because of their lust for human sacrifice, let's hope these people will suffer the same fate.

    June 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  26. .

    The freedom fighter you fund today is tomorrow's terrorist.

    Remember Osama Bin Laden.

    June 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  27. PPJr

    > As for the Sham Falcons, with an average price of $1,000 for a Kalashnikov rifle and $4 per bullet, the plea for funding is > never ending.

    It's not the bullets that kill people. It's dollars.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  28. blurocket9

    So the US warns Russia not to provide any aid to Syria, but its okay for the US to aid rebels and now this ? What will happen if the rebeles win is that Syria will become another Muslim theocracy that will turn on the US. Heed the warning, let Assad and the rebels settle it on their own. No aid for the rebels or Assad !

    June 25, 2012 at 2:13 am | Reply
  29. Larry of the Dune

    I see that some Muslim hating Tea Partier managed to hijack my name and use it on this web site. I'm the true Larry here and I do not hate Muslims nor do I support any of these idiotic wars against them!!!!

    June 25, 2012 at 7:36 am | Reply
  30. Bezboz

    What a shame to use the commonly good-cause-related phrase "adopt a ..." to support killers. Disgusting!

    June 25, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      How true that is, Bezboz. These right-wing fanatics have neither shame nor scruples! None at all!

      June 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Reply
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