DAY 803 - MAY 20, 2013
Pro-Assad hacker group, the Syrian Electronic Army, breaks into the Associated Press Twitter account and tweets about a bomb detonating in the White House, causing a stock market free fall to the tune of $136 billion. Internet videos emerge depicting a Syrian rebel commander eating the lung of a dead government soldier. The cannibalism stunt is used by anti-war advocates around the world as justification to avoid arming the Syrian opposition. France and England believe they have proof that Assad has used chemical weapons on his own people. Israel uses this information as the catalyst to perpetrate a second bombing inside Syria, this time on Bashar Al Assad's most advanced weapons facility, which many think is used to manufacture biological weapons. Two car bombs go off across the Turkish border while the Syrian government commits massacres in Baniyas and Al Bayda, calling it an act of sectarian cleansing. The UN puts the death toll at 80,000 since the start of the conflict, as 4.5 million people are internally displaced within Syria's borders and one million refugees are displaced outside.
The first thing you notice when you arrive in Al Raqqa is that it is impossible to avoid Al Qaeda in the city. All of the soldiers wave the black Tawhid flag along with their black uniforms, black boots, and black Keffiyeh. The same week you arrive in Al Raqqa, ISIS, (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), takes over the city. They impose a strict Shariah court of law and several times a week one of their soldiers will hold a public execution in the town square. The victims are usually Alawites beholden to Assad's regime, but you sense that ISIS is becoming more extreme by the day. Just yesterday they beheaded someone for drinking alcohol. They have already burned down one of the Christian churches that had been standing for centuries. On the other side, however, ISIS is providing food and education to the people of Al Raqqa. They give out toys and Qurans to the children and they have opened a madrassa in the city. You consider sending Emad there, to the religious school. Although you think it horrifying that your children could go without education for over a year, you know that ISIS is not necessarily your friend either. No they are not.