DAY 908 - SEPTEMBER 2, 2013
Hundreds are killed in a chemical attack in the East Ghouta region of Damascus, most of them civilians. Scores of videos surface showing women and children suffering from respiratory failure, thereby corroborating the belief that Sarin gas was most likely the agent released. John Kerry and David Cameron bang the war drums, citing Assad crossed US President Barack Obama's "red line" with the biological attack. But it has little effect as both US and UK governing bodies ultimately reject intervention proposals. Syrian rebels make a push towards Latakia, Assad's hometown and government stronghold, causing hundreds of Alawites to flee to the south. In Beirut a powerful car bomb kills 21 people in a densely populated, Hezbollah-controlled, shopping area. It is the deadliest attack Beirut has seen in more than eight years. In Al Raqqa, a liberated city in northeastern Syria, jihadist rebels fully expel Free Syrian Army soldiers from the region.
Even though you tell them that yes, you know that American man, the Badr Martyrs Brigade has still held you for over 100 days. You and Jalal have lost a significant amount of weight from the famine in Aleppo. It's pretty bleak all around, other than the fact that the men in the masks, recognizing your talent with technology, let you use the dusty computer for as long as you want. You learn that after the prison break at Abu Ghraib and on account of the porous border between Syria and Iraq, ISIS has gained significant territory in the northeastern part of the country. You try to go deeper on the subject but one of the guys with a mask on yells at you whenever you try to look up things related to politics. You try both Sheikh Yousef and Sheikh Mukhtar Al Mu'in in the hopes of locating Eric Harroun but you are unable. You try to tell them your location but without a specific address, they tell you that Aleppo's Sheikh Maksud district is massive and there isn't much they can do. But eventually, over time, the good Sheikhs come up with a plan. They ask you if the men in the masks would be interested in a different American. They tell you that ISIS has made a political prisoner swap with the regime, and as a result, they have acquired an American journalist whom they are looking to ransom. The good Sheikhs tell you that the men in the masks can ransom the American for close to, if not more than, a million dollars. When you broach the subject with your captors, they are quick to agree--knowing that you are worth virtually nothing on the ransom market. And when you see a photo--proof of life--of the new American, you recognize that it's that journalist you were never fond of. Then you remember his name. Jeremy. And just like that, you immediately feel better than you did before you saw the picture.