One of the more outlandish “findings” of the UN investigation into human rights violations in Syria, the “Oral Update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic” reads:
40. Accounts collected from those who told the CoI they were among the first to arrive at the scene described the use of sharp objects in the killing of the Abdulrazzak family. Multiple interviewees described stab wounds and the apparent use of axes or similar (satour). One person early on the scene described to the CoI a bloody knife allegedly found in one house. Another described multiple knives found, one knife bearing the inscription “We will sacrifice ourselves for you Hussein” - which is a Shia slogan. The CoI viewed a video of a knife with such an inscription, although it could not verify its authenticity. Other witnesses stated that all victims had been shot, apart from those killed in the shelling. Video and documentary evidence available to the CoI was inconclusive on this point.
This absurd claim is reminiscent of the Guardian’s story here which quotes an eye- witness as saying that one of the killers shouted “We took revenge for you, Imam Ali”. So basically, the shabiha are so intent on incriminating their regime in sectarian violence that they brazenly flaunt their religious identity not only verbally, but by leaving valuable bits of evidence behind like knives with religious/sectarian inscriptions on them. I am actually disappointed that nobody reported seeing shabihas with the words “I am an Alawite and I love killing Sunnis” emblazoned on their foreheads. It is really quite mind-boggling that UN investigators would even entertain such implausible claims. I mean, if Palestinian eye-witnesses had claimed IDF soldiers loudly exclaimed “This one’s for you Moses”, or left behind sharp tools engraved with the same words, would they really count this as evidence? I highly doubt it.
As i pointed out in my blog post on the Guardian story, these types of accusations are unapologetically Orientalist. In the first place, Imam Ali is simply not invoked in the context of retributive justice, and second, the only Shi’ite Imam whose name is inscribed on a sharp weapon of any kind is Imam Ali’s sword as seen on Zulfiqar replicas—not Imam Hussein’s. Moreover, the phrase “We will sacrifice ourselves for you Hussein” is not exclusive to Shi’ites, Arabs regularly pledge “We will sacrifice ourselves for you” to their leaders.
Those responsible for fabricating evidence for the Houla massacre investigation really need to be more diligent in their research from now on, and to bear in mind that Shi’ism is a sect, not a sacrificial cult. And more importantly, that in general, killers don’t leave clues behind about their identity.