Clifton, NJ Man Travels to Syria to Assist Rebels - NBC New York

Clifton, NJ Man Travels to Syria to Assist Rebels

A New Jersey man returns to the country of his birth to help topple a regime



    As the revolution in Syria continues, some Americans of Syrian origin are slipping into the country to fight or help the cause. One of them lives in New Jersey, and while he has a death sentence on his head already, he's still supporting the cause. Brian Thompson reports. (Published Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012)

    An IT specialist living in Clifton, N.J. is one of several Americans born in Syria who have returned to the country of their birth to participate in the revolution against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

    Asaad Aref said since the Arab Spring touched Syria nearly 19 months ago, he has slipped into the country several times to help the rebels with his computer and video knowledge.

    "It is personal," Aref said as he described how pro-government forces captured a nephew who had defected from the Army, and then killed him after trying to blackmail the family for $100,000.

    Aref said on one of his trips he met a father who had undergone a brutal interrogation as security forces tried to find his two sons who had been spotted in an anti-government demonstration.

    Aref said the father told how his daughter was brought into a room next door, "He goes, 'Can you imagine my feelings as a father, I'm sitting here and I hear cries of my daughter being raped?' "

    Those kinds of stories describe what he called a 'brutal' regime, and drove him to join the revolution as much as this New Jersey father can.

    He said he has been told his picture is posted at border crossings.

    "I know if they catch me I'm a dead man," Aref said.

    He is vice-president of a group called Syrian Americans for Democracy," and has posted Facebook pictures of their demonstrations in front of the UN and the White House.

    His next trip though, he said, will be back to Syria in coming weeks, sneaking across the border one more time to try to topple the Assad regime.

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