“Revolutionary Security was founded two months ago and it’s main mission is to observe the FSA and work with the civilians,” says Capt. Abu Hamdu, chief of Revolutionary Security in Aleppo. “We’re watching and observing the FSA fighters to make sure they don’t make any mistakes dealing with the civilians.”
Attention has long focused on the human rights abuses of the Assad regime and its military, but opposition groups have also come under scrutiny. Most recently, Human Rights Watch released a report that found opposition groups had tortured detainees and committed summary executions and extrajudicial killings.
Far more common, however, are problems with theft. Opposition fighters have been caught looting empty apartments and shops on the front lines and collecting illegal bribes and taxes at checkpoints.
Recognizing the damage such behavior causes to the FSA's image, the group has taken steps to quickly expand Revolutionary Security. In his neighborhood of Aleppo, Hiba now boasts that Revolutionary Security is stronger than the United States' Central Intelligence Agency. His group has recruited, trained, and inserted spies into FSA units throughout the city to report on anyone who violates the law.
The system has been successful in stopping a number of ill-intentioned FSA fighters and units from committing crimes, say Revolutionary Security members. Those who are caught must go before a judge in a revolutionary court, and, if convicted, usually lose their weapons. Sometimes they are even sent to prison. They say that they’ve seen a marked decline in such incidents within the past month, asserting that criminal behavior dropped when word spread that the FSA was monitoring activity.