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Today’s Top Stories
1. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has become the most widely-quoted source of info on casualties, but the man behind it, Rami Abdurrahman, is singlehandedly feeding his figures to the Western news services from his home in Coventry. Do his numbers — and sources — need more scrutiny? I’d say yes, judging from AP:
Suspicions have long dogged Abdurrahman. Is the self-exiled Syrian really who he says he is? Who’s behind his organisation? And is he accurate enough to justify the world’s reliance on his reporting? . . .
Mr Abdurrahman’s accuracy matters because so many news organisations use his reporting. A review of stories published by three major newswires, including The Associated Press, over the past year show he’s cited more often than SANA, Syria’s government-run news agency.
Experts attribute the exposure to Abdurrahman’s non-stop publication schedule, and the fact that so many observers are barred from Syria and that others are at risk of kidnapping or worse. That means journalists, human rights groups, and even the United Nations – which put out its own death toll at more than 100,000 back in July – have to rely at least in part on his figures.
That level of prominence worries those who harbour doubts about his organisation.
Mahdi schools are expected to turn out competitive, well-trained students who are also loyal to Hizbollah’s resistance ideology and can staff the organisation’s many institutions.
“Our strategy is to take care of the human cadre,” Mustafa al-Qasir, the head of the system, said at the event . . .
“Their mission statement talks about ‘education and indoctrination’. It’s a bit worrying,” Ms Shuayb says, pointing out that, in Arabic, “indoctrination” is the same word as “to fill up a bottle”.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Hamas officially admitted it dug the recently uncovered terror tunnel in order to kidnap Israelis. According to Reuters, this was the work of the terror group’s “military wing,” which shouldn’t be confused with Hamas’ political and art wings.
• In a thoughtful Jerusalem Post commentary, Dan Diker explains why Jordan relies on Israel to secure the Jordan Valley.
• For more commentary/analysis, see Reuven Berko.
- Why did Israel pursue rapprochement with Turkey even after it ratted on the Mossad?
- Yet another UN headache for the Saudis.
- Do signs point towards an Israeli-US rift over Iran?