Also detained in Syria ’s prisons are individuals from various Arab nationalities, particularly neighbouring countries. SHRC believes that there are prisoners who are mainly Lebanese, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Iraqi, as well as others from other countries.
The relatives of the missing Lebanese individuals formed a committee last year and met with the Syrian Minister of Interior on the 22nd of July 2002 . The Minister promised to pursue their queries regarding their missing relatives within three months. However, and following the expiration of the agreed period, he refused to meet with the committee again and failed to provide any of the information he undertook to provide. It is believed that there are more than 172 detainees and missing individuals according to the lists submitted by the said committee.
Jordanian sources estimate that more than 120 Jordanian individuals are currently held prisoners in Syrian cells, and hence the Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb and the President of the Jordanian Detainees Committee, Imad Al-Sharqawi, demanded that Syria releases all Jordanian political prisoners and named a number of those, including the students Hani and Wafa’ Ubeidat and Imad Al-Kanani, who is a businessman.
There are also a large number of Palestinians detained in Syria , some sources put there number at 600. This is largely due to the historical animosity between the Syrian regime and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Some Palestinian prisoners have been locked up for more than 25 years and since the Lebanese Civil War. This issue became to the fore once again in 2001, when prospects of a visit to the Syrian capital from Yaser Arafat grew. However, once the idea of a visit was shelved, so was the file of Palestinian detainees. It is worth mentioning that according to eye witnesses, including the statement of the Iraqi athlete Hilal Abdul Razaq to SHRC on his detention in Palestine Branch, the Palestinians suffer far severer treatment and torture than any of their Arab compatriots.
As for Iraqis, there are a large number of Iraqis, and particularly members of the Ba’ath Party wing that is an adversary of the Syrian Ba’ath trend, as well as supporters of the former Iraqi President. Many Iraqis were also detained as a result of fabricated reports and statements made by former Iraqi opposition elements based in Damascus . One of those who was released from imprisonment made a statement to SHRC on the 14 month horrific saga he endured at Palestine Branch, until he paid a bribe of $15,000 for his own freedom, which lead to his release and departure from Syria .
It is important to note that the Syrian authorities played a vital role in detaining many Arab nationals whom it suspected to have connections or who may merely sympathise with Al-Qaeda, as it previously used to facilitate their travels and was considered a main hub for those who wished to travel to Afghanistan through Iran . The authorities carried out severe interrogation sessions with these individuals and submitted its findings to the American Administration and attempted to coordinate its efforts in this regard with other Security Forces, particularly in Pakistan , Iran and with the CIA. Unfortunately, numerous innocent victims were claimed as a result of the Regime’s historic enmity towards Islamic and religious groups.